Read to Succeed Program Searching for Volunteers

Information from a United Way of Southeast Missouri press release

For the third year in a row, the Read to Succeed reading acceleration program will kick off in the Cape Girardeau Public School district in early September. Over 200 volunteers are needed to participate in this program, which is presented in all five public elementary schools in Cape.

This program is possible due to the support of the United Way of Southeast Missouri’s GRACES Women’s Council, the Cape Girardeau Public School District, and a grant from Procter & Gamble. In the 2013-14 school year 191 out of 192 students improved their reading proficiency by one complete grade level.

Volunteers work with children to help them develop a solid foundation in their reading skills. Research shows that children not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade have five times the chance to drop out of school. Some states use 3rd grade reading level to help estimate the number of prison cells needed in 10 years. The United Way has identified literacy as a key indicator for success in school and has implemented a program that is working proactively to prepare our youngest students.

Students identified by the teachers are chosen to participate in the program based on their reading skills and are paired with a volunteer for 30 to 40 minutes, four days a week, for a minimum of 45 sessions each. “The results have been profound,” stated Barb Kohlfeld, Principal at Blanchard Elementary.

“Research shows that if a student can read at or above grade level by the end of the third grade, they have a much greater chance of being successful in school,” stated Charla Myers, Program Director. “This will make a significant difference in the lives of these students and our community,” she added. It was noted that improved reading skills are not the only benefit of the program. Teachers and administrators report that student’s self-esteem and confidence are also impacted which is key to learning.

Myers is the new Program Director for the Read to Succeed program. Her background involves many years working in the field of early childhood education, so she understands the importance of acquiring certain skills early in life.

Third grade reading level is one of five indicators the United Way has identified in their education initiative as important to success in life. Other indicators include quality early care, successful transitions through middle school and junior high, high school graduation and parent education. The entire report titled the “Mobilization Plan to Ensure the Success of our Children” can be found on their website at

Anyone interested in volunteering for Read to Succeed this fall can contact Charla Myers at the United Way of Southeast Missouri at 573.334.9634.