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The United Way of Greater Kingsport (UWGK) is proud to announce that Kingsport City Schools have received a $30,000 Read to be Ready grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. UWGK’s United WE READ program plays an integral role in this grant, which funds a program targeting high-need students needing additional reading support, by providing access to age-appropriate hands-on activities that augment the program’s curriculum. The ultimate goal of the program is to develop a student’s love of reading by providing access to a multitude of high-quality books and exemplary text at various levels, targeting different interests.


The Kingsport City Schools’ Read to be Ready – Summer Reading Program will be held at Kennedy Elementary from June 1 to July 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The 25 students enrolled in the program will be a part of the United WE READ summer kickoff. These students are third graders selected from Kennedy, Jackson, and Roosevelt Elementary. They will receive ten take-home books, as well as a Kindle Fire Kids Edition e-Reader.  Five certified teachers will provide instruction, with a 1:5 teacher to student ratio. The program will be directed by Kennedy Elementary Associate Principal, Lori Smith.


This grant showcases the community’s strong collaboration around driving long-term, lasting change in Kingsport. Other community partners on the grant include Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium; Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport; Healthy Kingsport; Kingsport City Schools Nutrition, providing free breakfast and lunch to the students; Kingsport City Transportation, providing free transportation to and from Kennedy Elementary; Kingsport Public Library; and the Kingsport Farmers’ Market. It also parallels statewide efforts in Tennessee Read to be Ready initiative, recently announced by Governor Bill Haslam. If the program is successful, it may become a pilot for a system-wide program for Kingsport City Schools.


UWGK actively supports the promotion of early grade literacy through the United WE READ program, advancing the common good by raising visibility, deepening connections, and engaging supporters to build a literacy-rich community since 2013. With a vision to see 100% of Greater Kingsport area third graders reading proficiently by 2020, United WE READ has been a key community player in leading the fight to improve literacy rates among our youngest community members. The Read to be Ready Grant reinforces the messaging of United WE READ by propelling third graders toward reading proficiency before their school year even begins and contributing to these students’ readiness for rigorous academic standards throughout their remaining school years that will contribute to their becoming college and career-ready.