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 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, call 434-3157 or email to schedule a ReadingPals orientation.

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)