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We are thrilled to have been a part of the success of this program and to be awarded Pacesetter Honors by the Community for Grade-Level Reading. Working with United Way of Muscatine and teachers from the local school districts, this program has taken off, and we have seen success since its inception.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading announced today that it is recognizing United Way of Muscatine’s Reading Mentors program with Pacesetter Honors for its 2022–23 work. The theme this year is “Moving the Needle in Impact Areas.” The categories are: 

  • Ensure that fewer children start school so far behind; 
  • End chronic absence during the school year (including kindergarten); 
  • Ensure that striving and struggling readers make progress during the summer; 
  • Address children’s health-related challenges to learning; 
  • Equip parents to succeed as their children’s first teachers, advocates, and coaches; 
  • Advance, align, and integrate grade-level reading and math; and
  • Slow learning loss and accelerate equitable learning recovery through access to the internet, tutors, and out-of-school learning.

“It indeed is time to move the needle in impact areas and these Pacesetter Communities demonstrate how mobilized communities are succeeding,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of CGLR. “Let us all learn and grow from recognizing and understanding what they’ve accomplished. We applaud the civic leaders and local funders whose time, talent, energy and imagination have fueled progress in these Pacesetter Communities.”

A collaborative effort by funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship, CGLR focuses on promoting early school success as an important building block of more hopeful futures for children in economically challenged families and communities.  

“Through our collaborative initiatives, Aligned Impact Muscatine County (AIM) has developed models that provide children with the tools they need to be successful in school,” said Kim Warren, Director of AIM. “Our partnerships and data-driven solutions have allowed us to collaborate with local schools, nonprofits such as United Way of Muscatine, businesses, and parents to create the conditions for students to succeed. We are honored to be recognized alongside other communities doing impactful work.”

Aligned Impact Muscatine County presented education data to United Way of Muscatine’s Educate United Affinity group. During the data review, it was noted that 3rd grade reading scores haven’t returned to prepandemic levels. The Educate United Affinity group decided they wanted to help local schools make a positive impact on reading scores so that children are reading at benchmark by 3rd grade. Educate United organized a new Reading Mentors program during the 22/23 school year at two elementary schools in the Muscatine School District. Reading Mentors go to the school once a week during a 1-hour reading block and work with kids in small groups. The majority of the volunteers at Madison Elementary School were in kindergarten classrooms. The kindergarten classes had a 33% increase in kindergarten FAST scores from fall to winter compared to 5% the year before. This increase is attributed to the hard work of teachers in the Muscatine Community School District. The mentors are happy to be able to support teachers in the classroom and contribute to student success. The Educate United Affinity group has learned from the success of last year and has expanded the program to two additional elementary schools in Muscatine County for the 23/24 school year. 

“On behalf of our team here at Madison, we believe that our United Way partnership directly impacts our students’ success in reading.  Our kindergarten students and staff appreciate the dedication of the volunteers.  We hope to continue this partnership for many years to come,” said Stephanie Zillig, Madison Elementary School Principal, 

In Muscatine County, the local GLR campaign is led by Aligned Impact Muscatine County. It includes over 30 organizations dedicated to education with significant support from the following funders: StriveTogether, United Way of Muscatine, Muscatine Community School District, West Liberty Community School District, and the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine. 


About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 

Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 350 communities, representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,200+ local organizations and 510+ state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit and follow the movement X @readingby3rd.