United Way of the Midlands is focusing on a life- and community-changing formula for school success – reading proficiency by third grade, a top predictor of high school graduation and career success.

It has been United Way of the Midland’s life- and community-changing formula for more than 90 years: identify the metro’s most pressing needs, harness the power of partnerships, and target resources toward impactful solutions – all to break cycles of poverty and otherwise strengthen individuals and families.

Now, more intently than ever, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) is focusing that formula on a linchpin of school success – reading proficiency by third grade, a top predictor of high school graduation and career success.

Identify a most-pressing need

In the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area, more than 5,000 third-graders were not reading at grade-level during the 2017-18 academic year. These and children like them are considered four times more likely to drop out of school – six times more likely if they have lived in poverty for a year.

Harness the power of partnership

To increase all-important early reading proficiency, UWM partnered with Metropolitan Area Education Consortium (MOEC) and the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties to bring the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to the Omaha area. It is the initiative’s first entry into Nebraska and an expansion of neighboring Pottawattamie County’s seven-year-old Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, known as “Raise Me to Read.”

“At United Way of the Midlands, we know that collaboration leads to success,” said Matt Wallen, senior vice president of community impact. “That’s why we’re proud to support the local ‘Raise Me to Read’ Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. It brings schools, nonprofits and community members together to help local students grow and excel.”

MOEC serves as the backbone for the work, convening school district representatives and community advocates.

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