Early Literacy Program

Helping Children and Youth Achieve Their Potential

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. All of our children, from infancy to young adulthood, need nurturing, support and opportunities to succeed in school and life in order to reach their full potential. Children who receive a quality education are more likely to graduate from high school and are better prepared for the workforce.

Why focus on early childhood literacy?
Getting students off to a good start sets the course to ensure they graduate from high school.  We know that in our community there are a great number of children who are falling behind in reading in early elementary school, and consequently less likely to have positive education outcomes.  Data shows that in our county, 40% of students cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.  When 4th grade begins, students must "read to learn" - and if not able to, they fall farther behind.  A student who cannot read by 3rd grade is 4 times less likely to graduate high school.  If that student is living in poverty, he or she is 13 times less likely to graduate. We are investing in educational programs and initiatives in this area to increase child literacy rates, help close the achievement gap, provide parents and caregivers with critical skills, and ensure students build the critical skills needed to succeed in school and life.

Why is this important?
Children who experience quality early learning opportunities perform better in elementary school and beyond.  Children that fall behind in reading by 3rd grade usually do not catch up and are likely to drop out of high school. Poor academic achievement affects individuals and communities.
Focusing on 3rd grade reading proficiency is a powerful strategy for reducing the educational opportunity gap and laying the foundation for the next generation of workers.  Reading skills are a necessary prerequisite for academic success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the skill areas of the global economy.

View education whitepaper

Why focus on the Alum Rock Union School District in East San Jose?

  • Within Santa Clara County, Alum Rock Union School District is a large school district and has many students identified as being in need of quality early learning opportunities.
  • Nearly three-quarters of children are not meeting grade level expectations for literacy upon entering kindergarten in the Alum Rock Union School District.
  • According to the California Standardized Testing and Reporting Results, only 44% of third graders in the Alum Rock Union School District scored at the Proficient or Advanced level for English-Language Arts in the year 2012-2013. Among these third graders, only 17% of English Language Learners scored as Proficient or Advanced.

How is United Way Silicon Valley addressing this issue?
United Way Silicon Valley supports a variety of programs and activities in elementary schools primarily in east San Jose.
- Reading Tutor Program - Weekly tutoring for the most at-risk 2nd - 4th grade students focusing on literacy, reading, phonemic awareness, and comprehension.  Pair community volunteers with students 1:1.
- Bridge to Kindergarten - A free summer program for incoming Kindergarten students who have had little or no preschool experience.  Classes are taught by the incoming Kindergarten teacher and parents attend daily parent sessions with childcare and culturally appropriate instruction.
- Multiple programs in the schools supporting students, families, teachers and staff
- Three-year grants to direct service-providers supporting children and parents

Volunteer as a Reading Mentor
Donate your time and expertise to work with children. We can help you find great opportunities to make a difference. Volunteer to become a Reading Tutor.   Together we can make our community stronger by ensuring our children reach their fullest potential.

View other education volunteer opportunities

Support the Bridge to Kindergarten Program

Contact: Pearl Cheng, 408-345-4390.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED