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NEWS

United Way and Other Reading Advocates Launch New “Reading Oasis” Initiative

A little bit of reading paradise soon will be heading to elementary and middle schools serving economically-disadvantaged children through United Way’s new Reading Oasis initiative. A Reading Oasis is a safe, inviting location in a school where families can enjoy reading together, learn how to make reading a habit at home and gain access to books year-round.

Several sponsors already have committed Reading Oasis funding. They are Rainwater Charitable Foundation, $20,000; Basic Energy, $10,000; John and Cami Goff, $10,000; Pier 1 Imports, $10,000; The Ryan Foundation, $10,000; and Jetta Operating Company, $5,000. Other organizations have expressed interest in being sponsors as well.

Every Reading Oasis will include more than 1,000 new books, beanbag chairs and other kid-friendly furniture; colorful carpet, a listening library and literacy-themed artwork. Every child in the Reading Oasis schools also will receive a membership to United Way Club Connect, a national website featuring celebrity book readings, author interviews, games, videos, and suggestions on how kids can get involved in their communities and give back. Families will receive monthly email communications with hundreds of dollars’ worth of coupons from participating organizations such as Scholastic, Mattel, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s and Clorox.

Sponsoring organizations will have the option of picking the beneficiary school from a list of 29 interested Title 1 schools suggested by the Fort Worth, Arlington, Birdville and HEB school districts. “The average Title 1 school doesn’t have enough books for its students and does not have students who can afford to buy books,” said Cassie McQuitty, United Way Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer. “We also know that more than 60 percent of U.S. 3rd graders aren’t reading proficiently, and 3rd graders who don’t read at grade-level are four times more likely to drop out of high school.”

Sponsors receive naming rights for the Reading Oases they underwrite, along with volunteer opportunities at their adopted schools such as reading to students and helping with book fairs. For more information, or to sponsor a Reading Oasis, contact Cassie McQuitty at cassie.mcquitty@unitedwaytarrant.org.