Literacy & Learning

Child with book

Literacy Kit Project

Literacy Kit EventLearning to read is the most important predictor of a child's future success. Unfortunately, not all children have access to books and miss important milestones.

You Can Help!

Host a United Way Literacy Kit Project at your workplace or with your group. In the time it takes to have lunch, you can create a literacy kit--a fun, simple solution to engage children and help them learn to read.

  • While making Literacy Kits, volunteers will participate in a unique experience while making a meaningful difference in the community.  The experience can also be easily customized to meet the community goals of your workplace or group and helps build morale.

  • A literacy kit is a children's book and an activity designed to make reading interactive and enjoyable for young children. The target age group is kindergarten to third grade. Literacy kits bring books to life and deepen the reading experience for a child.

  • Literacy Kits are distributed to early elementary-aged children through the highest percentage of poverty schools, summer lunch programs and service agencies.

  • The flexibility of this activity is that it can be scheduled for any length of time, at any location and adjusts to what the group needs.

  • We have literacy kits for over 100 different children's books, including topics of STEM, animals, diversity and inclusion, and financial literacy.

  • Research indicates there is a direct impact on school success when a child has access to books at home. (Reading is Fundamental)

  • Over 2,000 literacy kits are needed for kids each year.


Please Join Us and help kids succeed!





Become a Pen Pal and Have a Positive Impact on a Local Student!

Pen Pal Program
Volunteers are paired with an elementary student to become a Pen Pal to foster positive connections. Participants will become acquainted through friendly correspondence and learn from each other about a range of interesting topics. The program helps students practice the art of writing, increase literacy skills and build positive relationships. Volunteers should be able to write letters to children, commit to corresponding for the school year and pass a background check. Duties do not include strenuous physical activity.

  • When writing your letter, feel free to share about your family, friends, and interests. You can always include a colorful postcard or photo, which your pen pal will treasure

  • We ask that you write 1 to 2 letters or postcards a month

  • End of Year Connection event will give the opportunity for Pen Pals to meet

  • Current Pen Pal Signup
  • Consent Form
  • Complete
Have you previously volunteered as a United Way Pen Pal?

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Do you enjoy reading? Do you love working with kids? Would you like to make a difference in the community?

United Way Reading Buddies is for you!

Reading Buddies Logo

United Way Reading Buddies program partners community volunteers with young student readers. Through reading, this program aims to develop students’ language and literacy skills, exposing them to new concepts, and helping to create lifelong readers. In partnership Elementary Schools in the Iowa City School District, Clear Creek Amana and West Branch, there will be opportunities with various ages and volunteer times.

Volunteers will have the chance to watch a student grow in their reading capabilities and know that they helped them achieve those goals. In that and many other ways, Reading Buddies is rewarding for both the student and the volunteer!

To become a Reading Buddies volunteer, you must fill out the form below, complete an Iowa criminal history check, and attend a 1-hour training orientation.

Reading Buddy Volunteers will begin working with students this fall.


Responsibilities of a Reading Buddies Volunteer:

  • Maintain a regular schedule with your student buddy
  • Share any stories that you have, regarding your time with your student buddy, for the newsletter
  • Attend a 1 hour training session, complete an application, and complete a background check

Training for Volunteers will cover:

  • Goals and Strategies of Reading Buddies
  • Model reading, tips and strategies for reading to young students
  • The resources available to volunteers


  • Self-motivated with a degree of flexibility
  • Willingness to be patient as students tackle reading
  • Possess a friendly personality

Time Commitment:

  • 4 hours a month (1-hour reading session weekly) for at least 6 months


  • See first hand the growth of young readers
  • Gain valuable experience and acquire leadership skills
  • Encourage the fun of reading


**A Criminal Background Check is required to volunteer in schools.**


Thanks to our friends at United Way of Erie County in Erie, PA for providing use of the Reading Buddies logo developed by their organization.

For Information or to get involved Contact: United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties at 319-338-7823