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In Our Community

Supporting Early-Grade Literacy in Berks County

13 Sep 2023

Proficient literacy skills are a critical foundation for success in school and life. Children who aren’t reading on grade level by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school. UGI Utilities is committed to improving childhood literacy through supporting tutoring programs, such as Ready.Set.READ!’s Star Readers program, which aims to increase third-grade reading proficiency for students in Berks County, where 50% of third-graders are reading below grade level.

Managed by United Way of Berks County, Ready.Set.READ!’s Star Readers program strives to improve children’s vocabulary skills and increase interest in reading through weekly tutoring sessions between community volunteers and first, second, and third grade students in 28 elementary schools in Berks County. During the 2022-2023 school year, more than 350 students received tutoring through Ready.Set.READ!

UGI Utilities supports the Ready.Set.READ! Star Readers program with contributions through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. Since 2014, UGI has donated over a half of a million dollars to support Ready.Set.READ! Several UGI employees also serve as Star Readers tutors, including Becky Eshbach, UGI’s Sr Director of Customer Success and Community Relations.

“In addition to participating in the Ready.Set.READ! program as a board member, I have tutored second graders one-on-one for a number of years. Previously at Reading area schools, and more recently at the Daniel Boone Intermediate Center, I really look forward to spending an hour with my student each week and helping make a difference in his or her future,” Becky says. “Through the program you get to develop a strong rapport with the student, and it is extremely rewarding to see them learn and grow throughout the school year. I have found that I learn something new every week as well when working through their assignments! I try to keep things lighthearted and fun and this year my student, Olivia, really loved all the voice impressions and drama I interjected into my storytelling. While it is a large commitment, the impact each tutor makes is even greater.”

UGI Utilities is proud to support Ready.Set.READ!’s efforts to Fuel Our Future through improving early-grade literacy. Learn more about their literacy efforts at readysetreadberks.org.

Follow UGI Utilities on Facebook (@UGIUtilities), Twitter (@UGI_Utilities) and Instagram (@ugiutilities) or visit https://prod.ugi.info/community-programs/to learn more about how UGI supports the community.