United Way of Santa Barbara County and the Hope School District are partnering this summer in a Virtual Reading Summer School.

The Hope School District is made up of Monte Vista, Vieja Valley and Hope elementary schools. Students and their parents have enrolled to enrich and improve their reading skills during the 10-week session, which began June 13 and concludes Aug. 19.

Incentive awards will be presented at individual school assemblies in September to the student and parent/student teams that participate for a minimum of 30 sessions during the 10-week program. With short notice, more than 200 “students” to date have enrolled, which includes 60 parent students.

The Hope School District recently completed a Reading Plus pilot this past spring with United Way and achieved some astounding results. All three of the multigrade pilots showed an increase of plus-two grade levels over the 14-week pilot. The sixth-graders at Monte Vista also conducted their own pilot class and their results were an amazing plus-three grade level increase.

Two years ago, as part of the Power of Partnership Initiative, thousands of Santa Barbara community members identified their hopes and desired goals for the future. One key area of agreement was education improvement. United Way of Santa Barbara County has set as part of its Ten Year Community Goals to increase the on-time graduation rate in the county by 50 percent and also to increase the number of students who read at or above grade level by 50 percent in every grade.

As a result, United for Literacy was developed, which is comprised of “born learning,” “Dolly Parton Imagination Library” and “Reading Plus,” which covers reading development components from birth through adulthood. For more information, contact Laura Finlay at 805.965.8591 or lfinlayci@unitedwaysb.org or click here.

— Laura Finlay represents United Way of Santa Barbara County.