UW-Green Bay announces new Literacy Initiative to improve reading rates across the region


UW-Green Bay students, faculty, staff and community members called to be a part of the solution

Green Bay, WI — In a continued effort to meet regional needs and address community challenges, UW-Green Bay announced today the UW-Green Bay Literacy Initiative. The new reading-focused program wil provide much needed hours of volunteer reading time to area first through third graders in an intentional effort to boost literacy rates across the region.

Working with several school districts and other community organizations, UW-Green Bay identified specific ongoing volunteer reading opportunities across the region. The Howard-Suamico, Pulaski Community and Sheboygan Area School Districts, as well as the McKinley Academy Virtual School in Manitowoc, are the first to sign on to be a part of the reading initiative. In addition to identifying volunteer opportunities, the University created a free-to-all online prep course for volunteers interested in joining the charge.

“This is the first of many steps that we as a university need to take to improve the literacy rates in our region,” said University of Wisconsin – Green Bay Chancellor, Michael Alexander. Recent data shows a 14% decrease in reading proficiency in 2020-2021, with only 27% of Brown County students meeting 3rd-grade reading proficiency targets.

UW-Green Bay assistant professors in the Education program Samantha Meister & Cory Mathieu developed the free Reading Mentor Prep course to help volunteers learn best practices for shaping a child’s love for reading. The free, online course is self-paced and gives volunteers strategies for engaging and supporting children in reading, and helps them feel more confident as they read with children. While volunteers are not required to take the prep course, it is encouraged to maximize the effectiveness of the time spent volunteering. “Reading with children is more than just opening a book. This course provides adults with a variety of strategies they can use to help children practice their literacy skills as they read together,” said Meister. Mathieu adds, “We hope this course will be a valuable resource for not only reading volunteers but anyone who has opportunities to read with kids: childcare providers, parents and caregivers, community programming educators and more.”

In addition to the schools already on board, volunteer readers will be encouraged to reach out to their local schools, libraries or other organizations to uncover more opportunities to read to students. Volunteers should expect each organization will have its own procedures to follow, including asking for information to conduct required background checks.

Studies show that literacy is a key factor in academic success, social mobility and economic wellbeing. UW-Green Bay’s Literacy Initiative not only demonstrates a commitment to the community, but also helps to ensure a more equitable future for all children by helping them have the confidence to read.

“We must continue to partner with our local communities and school districts to positively affect change and help our students rise together through reading,” said Alexander. “Our priorities as a university include supporting student success for all students, making education more inclusive, and being community-engaged to solve problems for our region.  This is why we must be part of the solution to help inspire students to start well in school and enjoy learning throughout their lives.”

About UW-Green Bay
Established in 1965, UW-Green Bay is a public institution serving more than 9,600 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students and 95,000 continuing education learners each year. We educate students from pre- college through retirement and offer 200+ degrees, programs and certificates. UW-Green Bay graduates are resilient, inclusive, sustaining and engaged members of their communities, ready to rise to fearlessly face challenges, solve problems and embrace diverse ideas and people. With four campus locations, the University welcomes students from every corner of the world. In 2021, UW-Green Bay was the fastest-growing UW school in Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.


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