Newsroom Update

United Way’s Kindergarten Countdown Camps Prepares Students for a Successful Start

To date, the free summer learning program has benefited over 330 students

RICHMOND, Va. (June 30, 2023) Back for a fifth year, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg will host seven Kindergarten Countdown Camp classrooms in schools across Powhatan, Goochland and Dinwiddie counties this summer. The camps run from June 20-July 20 and aim to empower and guide young children and their families toward success in their kindergarten journey this fall.

In the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg service area, one in five students enters kindergarten without the skills necessary to succeed.

long-term study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that students are more likely to have a successful long-term academic career if they are prepared for kindergarten and reading at grade level by third grade. Preparatory programs such as Kindergarten Countdown Camp are working to ensure students start school prepared.

United Way’s camp is a free summer learning program for rising kindergarten students with limited to no preschool experience. Taught by licensed teachers, Kindergarten Countdown Camp prepares students and their parents for a successful start in kindergarten and focuses on basic kindergarten skills like recognizing shapes, letters, counting, writing their name, adjusting to the classroom setting and even riding the school bus.

“We see through tests such as PALS-K, a benchmark used to determine students’ grasp of important literacy fundamentals, that economically disadvantaged students are two times as likely to struggle to meet these benchmarks than their economically stable peers,” said Barbara Couto Sipe, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “By making KCC free, families that would have otherwise been unable to afford pre-k, are now able to give their kids a rewarding experience that makes starting Kindergarten a little easier.”

Kindergarten Countdown Camp also helps parents prepare for this new transition for their child through Parent Events. At the Parent Event, caregivers learn about school readiness skills, school health requirements and community resources. Parents can also meet with district and school staff to begin the process of creating a strong partnership with their child’s educators.

To date, the camps have benefited over 330 students. United Way lists kindergarten readiness as one of its nine Steps to Success, the organization’s framework of nine key milestones on the path to prosperity.

The 2023 Kindergarten Countdown Camps will be held at the following locations:

  1. Sutherland Elementary
  2. Goochland Elementary
  3. Powhatan Elementary

The process for selecting Kindergarten Countdown Camp participants varies by school district. Typically, districts use Kindergarten Registration Day data to identify potential students and share the program with families.

For families outside of the participating camp locations, materials from United Way’s prior virtual Kindergarten Countdown Camps are available online.

For more information and updates about United Way’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp, visit