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Greenwich United Way celebrates hundreds of Reading Champions

May 29, 2019 GMT

GREENWICH — Nearly 500 children participated in the Greenwich United Way’s Reading Champions Program this year, and the biggest group was at the Boys & Girls Club, where more than 40 students participated.

The program held its end-of-year celebration at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club last week.

A retired Greenwich Public School teacher co-founded the program to address the achievement gap, the gap in achievement between white students and minority students, and students from wealthy and low-income families.

Joan Lowe, also a former guidance counselor, said she saw a need for one-on-one literacy programs. Fun in partnership with the Greenwich Public Schools, the Reading Champions literacy program pairs Greenwich youth with trained volunteers to build reading skills.


Volunteers teach students to read and comprehend in ways that are best-suited to their learning styles. Lowe remains a volunteer and site liaison for other Reading Champions volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club.

The program has tripled in size and outgrown its original setting, Lowe said.

Eight years ago, three tutors taught eight students, and operated in small work spaces scattered throughout the Boys & Girls Club. The club’s program has since tripled in size, outgrowing its space in the library and moving to the club’s auditorium.

“It is amazing to witness the growth of Reading Champions at the Boys & Girls Club,” Lowe said. “The large turnout of Reading Champion parents and families at the celebration is testimony to the respect and appreciation for the program.”

Reading Champions has a great impact on the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, CEO Bobby Walker Jr. said.

“After graduation, one father expressed his gratitude for Greenwich United Way, the Boys & Girls Club and the volunteer who spent hours reading with his daughter to improve her skills,” Walker said. “He said, ‘This program really can change a child’s life,’ and I fully agree.”

United Way CEO David Rabin said his organization is proud to partner with the Boys & Girls Club to close the achievement gap.

“The Greenwich United Way’s Reading Champions program is one of many ways we uncover a need, raise awareness and support, and develop a lasting solution,” Rabin said.

To learn more about the impact of Reading Champions, visit greenwichunitedway.org/reading-champions/. Prospective volunteers can fill out an application at greenwichunitedway.org/2018-19-reading-champions-volunteer-application-november-2018_for-upload/.