With a proud tradition of independent and forward-thinking local leadership and volunteerism dating back to 1943, combined with the national power of the world’s largest nonprofit brand, United Way of Manatee County is uniquely positioned to understand the needs of our community and rally our community resources together to maximize long-term impact.

United Ways work to ensure every child has access to quality education in Manatee County. United Way of Manatee County focus areas in Education are:

  • Children enter school ready to learn.
  • Students read on grade level by third grade.
  • Students achieve academic success in middle school (6th -8th grade).
  • Students graduate from high school on time and identify a future plan.

We know that:

  • Half of the children in Manatee County are not reading on grade level by third grade.
  • One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
  • A child who fails to graduate costs taxpayers $292,000 over the course of his or her lifetime


  • 100 kindergartners in 5 Manatee County Title 1 schools increased reading proficiency.
  • 160 children were paired with mentors who provided assistance and support for literacy skills.
  • 85% of the children participating in summer slide prevention programs maintained or increased their reading level during the programs.
  • 85% of students participating in Education programs achieved academic success in middle school by demonstrating knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate for the next grade level.
  • More than 4,000 books have been distributed to the children of Manatee County through the See Spot, Read Spot program.
  • More than 3,300 books were given and 2,100 volunteer hours were invested with kindergarteners in Manatee County schools.

Several initiatives provide reading support to our students:

    • In school reading help all year long with Reading Pals
    • See Spot, Read Spot prevents Summer Slide by providing books and story times to children at Summer Feeding Sites.

Reading Pals

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Reading Pals is a statewide initiative of United Way that aims to close the skills gap in the early grades. The program pairs Pre-Kindergarten students with volunteer Reading Pals. Over the course of the school year the volunteers read to the student.  The student’s reading progress is measured and tracked. The goal of the program is to increase the reading proficiency of the student participants.

See Spot, Read Spot


See Spot, Read Spot is a joint effort with the Manatee School District’s Summer Feeding Program. Volunteers at the summer feeding sites read with children and each child receives a take-home book each time they go to the site. By the end of the summer, a child who has attended every event will have received between 8-12 books.

The Campaign For Grade Level Reading

GLR-Regional Logo-Manatee (1)-websmallReading proficiency by the end of third grade is a key predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of children from low-income families miss this crucial milestone. The statistics are even worse for low-income dual-language learners and children of color.

The Grade Level Reading Campaign (GLR) is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to turn this around and put children on the path for success. Learn more