Every year, ONE in FOUR students fails to graduate from high school on time.


What is ReadingPals?

ReadingPals is a statewide early literacy initiative that provides volunteer mentors for students from Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) to 3rd grade who may need extra help, utilizing one-on-one or small group settings.

ReadingPals is managed by The Children’s Movement of Florida and administered through 17 United Ways — with the help of numerous community partners across the state.


United Way of the Big Bend is changing this statistic. Now in its eighth year, ReadingPals is continuing to work to improve the reading skills of students in Gadsden and Leon County.

Last year, our 105 ReadingPals mentors provided mentoring services to 150 students in 19 schools totaling 2,835 hours. 4,050 books were distributed to students participating in this program for their home library.


ReadingPals relies on hundreds of volunteers every year to read one-to-one with students who have been identified as struggling readers.

  • Mentors are matched one-to-one with students in kindergarten, first, or second grades

  • Mentors report during the after school setting for one hour a week during the school year

  • Mentors choose the school and the day that best fit their schedule

  • Mentors utilize a curriculum created by LCS District and UWBB that is tailored to children’s reading needs

  • Mentors present each student with a brand new book every week

  • Mentors receive training from UWBB and the school district (includes background screening)

Click on the cover for ReadingPals brochure.

What do we hope to achieve?

MENTORING: To build genuine, impactful relationships between students and our volunteer mentors.

EARLY LITERACY: To improve students’ understanding of the fundamental building blocks of early literacy.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: To help students build a strong social-emotional foundation through  self-awareness, self-management, social awareness,    relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

Get Involved

Interested but aren’t sure you can give a full-time commitment? Here are other ways to get involved with ReadingPals:

  • Be an Alternate– A ReadingPals Alternate serves as a “substitute” when a full-time ReadingPal cannot be there to read with their student. Alternates have the flexibility to go when it fits in their schedule.
  • Deliver books– Each week, ReadingPals students take home a brand new book. We need help getting the books from our office to the different ReadingPals sites.
  • Put sponsor stickers on books– Each take-home book has a personal label that allows the student to write their name in their book, as well as see all the sponsors who make ReadingPals possible. Every book (last year alone we gave out over 3,000 books!) must have a sticker in it! This is a great opportunity for large groups/companies.
  • Assemble holiday and special projects– During special times of the year, students receive small projects/kits as gifts for their hard work (i.e. holidays, end of the year, or just because). This is another great opportunity for large groups/companies.


For more information and to register to become a ReadingPals volunteer, please contact Rhonda Cooper at 850-487-8091 or rhonda@uwbb.org.