Read Across Columbia

Heart of Missouri United Way recognizes barriers to education and actively seeks to create and invest in programs that help individuals and families in our community.

Our Read Across Columbia Program removes barriers to literacy by putting inclusive book titles into the hands and homes of first and second grade students at five of our Columbia elementary schools.

We know reading proficiency is extremely difficult to achieve when combined with other common struggles related to poverty, like food insecurity, and healthy, safe and affordable housing. The elementary schools receiving Read Across Columbia books are the schools with the highest free-and-reduced lunch rates and lowest reading proficiency scores. These same schools foster the education of the most diverse students in our district.

Heart of Missouri United Way believes every child can learn how to read. We have seen the trending local challenges that our young students and their families face, and how 3rd grade reading proficiency scores have declined by over 8% (Boone Indicators Dashboard). We also know that 3rd grade reading proficiency is strongly connected to a student’s likelihood of graduating high school.

That’s why every fall, United Way volunteers pack bookbags with four free books plus one coupon for a free book from Daniel Boone Regional Library. That is a total of five free books from Read Across Columbia for our children to read at home to spark the joys of learning to read.