Grade-level Reading by Third Grade

Kids who are reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate high school on time.

Up to third grade, kids learn to read. After third grade, they read to learn. When it comes to literacy, third grade is where the rubber meets the road. A student who is reading at grade level by third grade is significantly more likely to succeed in later grades and graduate high school on time.

Unfortunately, one in four kids in our region is not reading proficiently by third grade. In areas of high poverty, the third grade reading SOL pass rate is as low as 61 percent, compared to the state average of 75.6 percent. If we are to build a better Richmond and Petersburg region, we must work together to improve these numbers.

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News & Updates


Community Updates

Hear from local leaders about their work that supports the Third Grade Reading Step.

What We Do

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg understands the key factors that drive third grade literacy: parent success, school readiness, attendance and summer learning. We work with programs that focus on these areas to make a real, sustainable impact on elementary literacy.

  • Throughout the year, we collect and assemble more than 1,000 United Way Literacy Kits that are distributed to students in our region. Each kit includes schools supplies, an age-appropriate book, information for parents and supplies for children.
  • We serve as the backbone of the Petersburg City and Schools Partnership, which works to create the climate and conditions for every child to succeed by providing a sustainable, coordinated system of supports and access.
  • We host Reading for Resilience events, which bring together volunteers to read to children and help them develop emotional regulation and literacy skills needed for success in school.

Spotlight on Success

We convene the Greater Richmond Campaign for Grade-level Reading which partners with school districts, nonprofits, corporations and other organizations to collectively increase third grade reading proficiency across the Greater Richmond and Petersburg region.

How You Can Help

  • Donate to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Let us know you want your gift to help increase third grade reading proficiency.
  • Volunteer. United Way volunteers read to students and create literacy kits for teachers and students. Send us an email to get involved, or visit our Events page to see our existing opportunities.