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UGI Supports Summer Reading Programs Aimed at Maintaining Youth Literacy

01 Jul 2015

Recognizing the importance of maintaining youth literacy and preventing “Summer Slide” in reading and comprehension skills, UGI donated funds to a number of summer reading programs across Pennsylvania. These initiatives advance reading skills among youth during the vacation months.

Education experts have long stressed the importance of early childhood literacy as a key to success in a student’s academic progress and in career pursuits as well. Studies show that 75 percent of students who are poor readers in third grade remain poor readers in high school and into adulthood.

Recognizing the importance of early childhood literacy, UGI has been a long-time supporter of programs designed to improve reading skills. In recent years, UGI has expanded that commitment to summer reading programs. Historically, more than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer months because of lack of access to books, learning resources and enrichment activities.

“The children of today will be the leaders of our region tomorrow,” Keith Dorman, UGI director of communications and community relations, said. “UGI’s investment in early childhood literacy is an investment in the continued success of our communities.”

“Read for Success,” a recent study conducted by Reading Is Fundamental across 41 school districts in 16 states, found that “summer slide” could be reversed by providing books and literacy materials for children to take home and keep. The model also provided professional development for in-school teachers and tools for parental engagement. The study – funded by a grant by the U.S. Department of Education – found that 57 percent of students actually improved reading ability during the summer months, with the greatest gains shown by students performing at the lowest reading levels.

The summer reading programs supported by UGI share the goal of putting books into the hands of children. Summer reading programs sponsored by UGI include:

  • The Wayne County Public Library’s 2015 Summer Reading Program, aimed at youth from pre-school to young adult, includes toddler times, story hours, reading clubs and special family nights. The program, located in Northeast Pennsylvania, serves approximately 1,300 children and teenagers throughout the summer.
  • PBS39, based in the Lehigh Valley, offers “Story Hour,” a program aimed at pre-school children ages two to five years old. A number of the sessions focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), a major emphasis in education.
  • The Reading Public Library turns literacy into a game. Every time a child reads for 15 minutes, they earn credit toward a raffle ticket for a variety of prizes. Children also select a superhero for a game board where they accumulate points. A child picks a free book to keep each time superhero status is achieved.
  • The Lancaster Public Library’s summer reading program, “Every Hero Has a Story,” offers literacy program for children of all ages. The pre-school read-aloud program, for example, aims to have 20 books read to children aloud throughout the summer months.
  • The Dauphin County Library, which serves the greater Harrisburg area, conducts a Children’s Book Club for children through age 12. Children who complete 10 hours of reading over the summer select a free book, receive a certificate of completion, and a chance to win a Meep X2 tablet. The library also conducts a Teen Reading Club as well.
  • The Cumberland County Library, serving the greater Carlisle area, conducts a summer reading program across eight library facilities. Cumberland County complements their program with a robust website that provides online reading, recommended books, access to the library databases to help with homework, and other features.

UGI Utilities is a natural gas and electric utility with headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania. UGI serves 670,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland.  Customers and community members are invited to visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.

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