ReadingPals Program


ReadingPals is a school-based mentoring program that helps 4-year-old prekindergarten students build strong pre-literacy skills necessary for kindergarten success. In 2013-2014 Escambia County’s High school graduation rate was 66.2%. By supporting children early, we can work toward increasing our high school graduation rate.

United Way of Escambia County has partnered with Every Child a Reader in Escambia (ECARE) to expand the local ReadingPals Program to 5 area schools. This partnership is made possible due to a newly-acquired $85,000 grant from Carol and Barney Barnett, owners of Publix Supermarkets.

During the 2015-16 school year, 227 volunteers served a total of 3827.25 hours with ReadingPals. Community members and volunteers donated a total of $1,346.70 of in-kind goods to support the ReadingPals Program this year. Including the value of volunteer labor and in-kind donations, ReadingPals had an $89,640.70 impact on our community in the 2015-2016 school year.

Join us today as we prepare our students for a better future. Change won't happen without you! 

200 volunteers are needed to serve one hour per week or 25 hours total with a student during the remaining 2016-17 school year. ReadingPals volunteers will use themed literacy kits to engage independently with a student in age appropriate learning activities.

Volunteers will receive mentor training and ongoing support. A Level II background screening, paid for by United Way, is required. Volunteers must be 18 years old, and smoke, tobacco, and nicotine free while serving as a ReadingPal. 


  • C.A. Weis Elementary School, 2701 N. Q Street (Q St. and St. Mary Ave.)
  • Global Learning Academy, 100 N. P Street (one block north of Navy and Pace Blvd. intersection)
  • Head Start Gibson Center, 710 N. C Street (Cervantes and C Street)
  • McMillan Pre-K Center, 1403 W. St. Joseph Ave.
  • Montclair Elementary School, 820 Massachusetts Ave.

To volunteer, please contact Volunteer Manager, Brooke Policicchio at 850.912.8163 or

Research indicates that differences in vocabulary are evident at 18 months of age. By age three, children in low-income homes will have heard one-third as many words as children in middle and high-income homes (10 million versus 30 million words). (Hart and Risley, The 30 Million Word Gap, 2003)