On Oct. 3rd the Lake Area United Way will kick off the United We Read program with the help of over 350 student volunteers from Purdue University Calumet’s Center for Learning and Academic Success. The volunteers will be placed in over 40 classrooms throughout the School City of Hammond to read aloud to the students and then engage them in fun activities based on the book. The elementary students will also receive a literacy kit including a copy of the book and literacy activities the students and their families can complete at home. The Purdue students adopted the kickoff as their annual Day of Caring project.
"Experiential learning continues to be a focal point for undergraduate education at Purdue Calumet. The opportunity to engage our first-year students in the United We Read campaign reinforces the concept of civic engagement and emphasizes the importance of our university being a part of the Northwest Indiana community," explained Dr. Dhanfu Elston, Executive Director of Student Success and Transition.
United We Read focuses on ensuring all students become excellent readers. It is a collaborative effort between local schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide programs and services that aid students and their families in building a literacy-rich home. The program provides books to children in need to build personal home libraries, tools to build parental awareness of early literacy skills and developmental milestones, and inspiration to children to read by providing volunteer reading mentors in school classrooms.
“Currently Lake County ranks in the bottom 11% of the state in total number of students that graduate high school. Children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, so it’s clear that if we want to improve graduation rates we need to improve student’s reading skills,” said Lou Martinez, President/CEO of the Lake Area United Way.
“United We Read is a program that compliments the efforts the School City of Hammond has in regards to raising the reading levels of our students and increasing their compassion for reading,” said Nancy Machnikowski, Partnership Representative for the School City of Hammond.