United Way’s Midlands Reading Consortium seeks 150 volunteers to enhance students’ literacy skills

Columbia, S.C. – United Way of the Midlands is looking for volunteers interested in reading to elementary-age students to support its Midlands Reading Consortium (MRC) for the 2022-2023 school year.

MRC is a literacy-focused program that supplements and enhances shared reading experiences to ignite a love of reading for elementary students Pre-K- 3rd grade. MRC is a partnership between United Way of the Midlands and 17 Midlands elementary schools across Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, Calhoun, and Orangeburg counties.

“We’re looking for 150 dedicated volunteers who have a passion for helping children succeed to serve as positive role models and help our MRC students enhance their love for reading this school year,” said Jabari Bodrick, Ph.D., United Way’s Director of Education & Resiliency. “Sharing your time and talent as an MRC volunteer will inspire students and build their confidence to excel academically.”

MRC volunteers work with students on a one-on-one basis once a week during the school year to help ensure students are reading proficiently by third grade, which is key to later student success. Volunteering begins in early October 2022 and ends in May 2023. While sessions last for 30 minutes, many volunteers choose to work with two students back-to-back for one hour during the week to increase their impact.

“Just 30 minutes of your time every week can change the landscape of lives, by helping a child cultivate a love for reading and building their confidence in meeting target classroom goals,” said Bodrick.

During the 2021-22 school year, MRC was incorporated in 16 schools throughout six school districts. With the help of over 100 community volunteers, the program reached nearly 560 students through one-on-one reading sessions and weekly/guest classroom readers. MRC also partnered with the United Way of the Midlands Young Leaders Society (YLS) to deliver 1,500 books to 1,000 students through YLS’s Be a Book Bunny program.

MRC provides volunteers with free training, materials, and the support needed to help focus on improving language skills and reading proficiency for students. Training is provided before volunteering.

To learn more about the volunteer application process and to find opportunities throughout Midlands elementary schools, please visit volunteer.uway.org/mrc or contact Delia Brooks, United Way’s Community Relationship Manager, at dbrooks@uway.org or 803.733.5413.

United Way of the Midlands is the most collaborative, efficient and accountable model for investing in the improvement of the Midlands community. With nearly 70 Community Impact Partners, United Way works to identify and respond to the critical human service needs of Calhoun, Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland counties. Funds are raised through workplace campaigns, grant writing and individual donations and are directed to creating generational change by breaking cycles of crisis and empowering people to build their own paths to success. For more information, please visit uway.org.

The United Way of the Midlands Reading Consortium (MRC) was formed to increase the number of children reading at grade level by the start of fourth grade. By recruiting and training our volunteer community readers to read one-on-one with students throughout the school year, MRC helps children in the program build reading comprehension, literacy, and vocabulary skills. Since MRC was founded in 2007, volunteers have helped more than 7,000 children. The program has had a presence in over 25 schools and summer reading camps across the Midlands and continues to grow. For more information, please visit uway.org/mrc.


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