United Way of Santa Barbara County administers and supports a coordinated set of literacy and academic improvement programs called Power of Reading and Power Math in 31 schools and 7 different agencies in Santa Barbara County.
Combining innovative technology with individual instruction, these programs have been extremely effective at boosting reading grade levels and high school graduation rates for all students.
The need could not be clearer. In Santa Barbara County, 70 percent of third graders from economically disadvantaged families read below grade level. Research shows that third-grade literacy is an accurate predictor of high school graduation because that is when “learning to read” becomes “reading to learn.” It is hard for students left behind at this critical juncture to make up lost ground, and those from lower-income families often end up years behind their more affluent peers. They are less likely to graduate high school; and are at risk for low lifetime earnings, poor health, crime and incarceration, and reliance on public assistance—all of which come at considerable cost to our community.
This is why United Way of Santa Barbara County has made community-based programs that address the challenges faced by local students a top priority, and is working to see those programs implemented as widely and effectively as possible.