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UGI to Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Partnership with Reading Is Fundamental

07 Jan 2011

Reading, PA – Actor, author and producer Henry Winkler will headline A Celebration of Children’s Literacy, an event marking the 20th anniversary of the partnership between UGI Utilities, Inc. and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center.

Winkler will be the keynote speaker at an event that will highlight the importance of children’s literacy and will bring together UGI volunteers, school RIF coordinators, and community members. While best known for a television career that spans more than four decades, Winkler has co-written 17 children’s books featuring Hank Zipzer, “the world’s greatest underachiever,” which chronicles his own early struggles with dyslexia.

Since 1991, UGI has provided books to first-grade students throughout its service territory to encourage early childhood literacy. Today, UGI supports three book distributions each year in over 200 schools spanning more than 50 school districts. Over 16,000 students receive more than 50,000 books each year. To date, UGI has distributed over one million books in the communities it serves.

In addition, through a program that grants employees up to 16 hours to participate in education-related activities, more than 40 percent of UGI employees have participated in Reading Is Fundamental book distributions. The Reading Wizard, a full-size character created by UGI to encourage children to read, is available to schools and typically is portrayed by a UGI employee.

UGI’s commitment to reading is coordinated through a partnership with RIF, the oldest and largest non-profit children’s literacy organization in the United States. RIF coordinates programs in every state and U.S. territory.

“Research demonstrates that students who fail to read at their grade level by fourth grade have difficulty in all subjects throughout their academic career,” John Walsh, UGI president and CEO, explained. “This impacts not only their postsecondary opportunities, but their career options as well. Early childhood literacy provides our students with a critical foundation for future success and is also a key to long term economic development in our communities.”

Tickets to the event are available to the general public through Ticketmaster.

UGI Utilities’ headquarters is located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The utility serves more than 25,000 natural gas and electric customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania. Additional information about UGI is available at www.ugi.com.