Wilmington, DE – (December 4, 2023) The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) announced that it is recognizing United Way of Delaware (UWDE) with Pacesetter Honors for its 2022–23 work. This year’s theme is “Moving the Needle in Impact Areas,” and the categories are:
• Ensure that fewer children start school far behind in literacy.
• End chronic absence during the school year, including kindergarten.
• Ensure that striving and struggling readers make progress during the summer.
• Address children’s health-related challenges to learning.
• Equip parents to succeed as their children’s first teachers, advocates, and coaches.
• Advance, align, and integrate grade-level reading and math, and
• Slow learning loss and accelerate equitable learning recovery through access to the Internet, tutors, and out-of-school learning.
“It is indeed time to move the needle in impact areas, and these Pacesetter Communities, such as Delaware, demonstrate how mobilized communities are succeeding,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “Let us all learn and grow from recognizing and understanding their accomplishments. We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy, and imagination have fueled progress in these Pacesetter Communities.”
A collaborative effort by investors, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states, and communities to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship, CGLR focuses on promoting early school success as an essential building block of more hopeful futures for children in economically challenged families and communities.
In Delaware, only 35% of children are reading on grade level by the completion of third grade, and in our most vulnerable communities, that number can be as low as 30%. “Students must be reading at grade level by third grade,” said Ken Livingston of UWDE and the Delaware State Director for CGLR. “After third grade, students not reading at grade level struggle to keep up, and many will continue to fall behind. The pandemic-related school closings significantly impacted students’ learning, and we’ve taken aggressive steps to help get students back on track.”
Key UWDE programs/strategies helping improve literacy include:
• My Very Own Library (MVOL) helps students build their home libraries while fostering their love of reading. Through a partnership with Scholastic, during the 2022/2023 school year, MVOL provided over 87,000 books to over 8,700 students throughout Delaware.
• Virtual Reading Angels is a UWDE program in which volunteers video-record themselves reading a short children’s book; the videos are uploaded to UWDE’s YouTube channel, where children and their parents or guardians can view them. Some of the readers performed their stories in their native language, broadening the audience for these stories.
• BookNook is a synchronous online learning platform infused into UWDE’s literacy partner programs. It is designed to enhance K-8 literacy skills through small-group guided reading instruction and high-impact tutoring. BookNook’s curriculum supports the five components of reading identified by the National Reading Panel—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each lesson and activity engages students around these concepts, widely recognized as foundational reading skills.
“Eisenberg Elementary students are always excited to receive their MVOL books,” said Dave Distler, Principal at Colonial School District’s Eisenberg Elementary School, one of our participating schools. “We bring the students down to the auditorium and discuss the importance of reading at home. Seeing the joy on their faces is wonderful as they get to choose ten books to take home and read with their families. The families appreciate getting these books at no cost because many do not have the income to purchase an at-home library”.
MaryBeth Barbro, Library Media Specialist at Joseph E. Johnson Elementary School in the Red Clay School District, added, “MVOL helps establish the joy of reading for all scholars. It levels the playing field and ensures our scholars have quality books to enjoy at home with their families. One of our scholars asks me every year on the first day of school when we will have MVOL. Now, that is a passion for reading! Thank you, MVOL!”
Those who want to learn more about UWDE’s childhood literacy programs can visit uwde.org for additional information about our programs.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states, and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 350 communities, representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and two provinces in Canada — with 5,200+ local organizations and 510+ state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement X @readingby3rd.

About United Way of Delaware

Founded in 1946, United Way of Delaware (UWDE) works to advance the common good by focusing on four key areas: Early Education, Career and College Success, Financial Empowerment, and Racial Justice and Social Equity. UWDE is engaged in a long-term strategy to eliminate the root causes of Delaware’s most pressing social problems in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties. UWDE is also responsible for the United Way brand in Salem County, New Jersey. Learn more and #JoinTheFight at www.uwde.org.

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