ReadUP Ambassadors Change the Game for Third Graders

Each fall our dedicated staff, volunteers and coordinators prepare for another school year and welcome a new set of students fighting to improve their reading skills. In its 12th year, United Way of Central Indiana’s ReadUP program pairs hundreds of tutors with third graders struggling to read at grade level.


Third grade is a critical time for children to develop their reading skills, as it’s the first year students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” And, research shows that if a child enters fourth grade struggling to read, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school.


This year, ReadUP enlisted the help of a handful of friends to help fill much needed open spots for tutoring. Called “Ambassadors” – these loyal volunteers took to social media to share the importance of ReadUP with their personal networks – posting statistics, stories and personal testimonies. From young professionals to retirees, spanning from Hendricks County to Morgan County, our Ambassadors have over fifteen collective years of ReadUP tutoring under their belts. They know students receiving 50 or more tutoring sessions consistently outperform their non-ReadUP peers and peers who received fewer sessions.


When asked, it was a resounding passion for early education that kept our Ambassadors returning to ReadUP. “With ReadUP, there is a real opportunity to be a role model for third graders who may not have that kind of encouragement at home. Participating is such a wonderful way to encourage them to see what possibilities exist when they are strong readers,” said one ambassador. We couldn’t agree more.


Learn More: 5 Reasons Why ReadUP is the Perfect Volunteer Opportunity for You!


At United Way, our goal is to increase grade-level literacy in Central Indiana because we know that education is the best path out of poverty. Thanks to ReadUP, participating third grade students have increased rates of success on state-wide standardized tests than the year before. But this only works when there are enough tutors to fill the volunteer slots available, which is why Ambassadors were selected to help get the word out about ReadUP.



ReadUP tutor with books

“Ambassadors are critical to the success of spreading the word and recruiting more volunteer mentors and tutors. We knew combining an Ambassador’s knowledge of our mission with their first-hand experience as a tutor, we could create even more opportunities for student success and improved community literacy,” said Shannon Jenkins, Senior Community Impact Manager of ReadUP. “Our Ambassadors are real life hand raisers, on social media and in the classroom.”


If you are an existing tutor and interested in being an Ambassador, email our team at


Think ReadUP might be for you? Start by volunteering just one hour a week (every other week if you volunteer with a partner) to read with students to help them get on track — and stay on track — with grade-level literacy. With tons of sites to choose from, there’s bound to be a location close to your home or work. Our locations span 17 different school districts and six counties. Sign up today at


Ready to raise your hand as a volunteer? 


Become a ReadUP Volunteer