United Way, Hartford Public Library, Hartford Public Schools and Connecticut Children’s Unite for Summer Reading 

Jul.12, 2023

The announcement was made alongside local children and volunteers at the Ropkins branch of Hartford Public Library in the North Hartford Promise Zone.  

Hartford, Conn. (July 12, 2023) – United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Hartford Public Library, Hartford Public Schools and Connecticut Children’s kicked off the summer edition of United Way Readers today and encouraged local families to join the city-wide summer reading challenge. 

“It is always rewarding to see our community come together to support children and their academic success. United Way is working hard to boost childhood literacy in the North Hartford Promise Zone through our role in the North Hartford Ascend Pipeline, and these are great examples. Today’s celebration of year-round literacy also is a phenomenal representation of United Way’s mission in action – bringing together the right people and resources for the well-being of local children and families. We trust that by strengthening childhood literacy, together we can set students up for future success,” said Maura Cook, Vice President, Marketing and Development, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.  

United Way Readers is an initiative where caring volunteers are paired with students struggling to read at grade-level. Volunteers read one-on-one with these children each week. United Way coordinates with Hartford Public Schools, Hartford Public Library and other community partners year-round to make United Way Readers available to students in need of extra support. On average, 93 percent of participating students improve their literacy skills. This summer, United Way Readers is available virtually and in-person at S.A.N.D. School as part of summer enrichment experiences in the North Hartford Promise Zone in alignment with the community’s goals through the Ascend Pipeline, a cradle-to-career effort overseen by Connecticut Children’s. 

“Connecticut Children’s is proud to oversee the Ascend Pipeline cradle-to-career effort to ensure children living in the North Hartford Promise Zone have the supports they need to reach their full potential. Childhood literacy is essential to achieving our goals of enhancing developmental and academic outcomes and strengthening long-term well-being and quality of life. By collaborating with many community partners – including United Way, Hartford Public Library and Hartford Public Schools – we can ensure programs like United Way Readers and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are available to children who reside in the North Hartford Promise Zone,” added Dr. Paul Dworkin, Executive Vice President, Community-Child Health, Connecticut Children’s.  

The Hartford-wide summer reading challenge “3-2-1 Summer Blast Off – Summer Learning to the Moon, Mars and Beyond!”, spearheaded by Hartford Public Library and Hartford Public Schools and supported by approximately one dozen community partners – including United Way – encourages and incentivizes local children and families to read STEM-themed books throughout the summer. 

“Hartford Public Library is proud to provide free resources that inspire reading, guide learning and encourage individual exploration. We are excited to continue our collaboration with Hartford Public Schools and United Way to amplify the city-wide summer reading challenge. We are having a lot of fun with this year’s theme – ‘3-2-1 Summer Blast Off’ – and are designing experiences and challenges that help our youth get excited to read even when school is out of session,” shared Bridget E. Quinn, President and CEO, Hartford Public Library. 

“Hartford Public Schools believes in our beautiful and capable students. It is critically important to us to that our students are set up for success. Literacy is core to youth development and learning. We are thrilled to be partnering with organizations like Hartford Public Library, United Way and others to ensure children are engaged and learning throughout the entire year, and that resources are available for students and their families,” expressed Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools.   

Additional literacy supports include summer enrichment learning programs, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and United Way Literacy Kit assembly and distribution. These efforts and partnerships work together to help children read at grade-level by the start of the fourth grade, a key milestone indicating a student is more likely to graduate high school on time prepared for college or career.  


About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut   
United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and finds long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that: children succeed in school; people get jobs and are financially secure; people are healthy; and, basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit unitedwayinc.org.      

About the North Hartford Ascend Pipeline
The North Hartford Ascend Pipeline is a cradle-to-career effort to ensure children living in the North Hartford Promise Zone – which includes the Clay Arsenal, Northeast, and Upper Albany neighborhoods – have the supports they need to reach their full potential. 

Connecticut Children’s received a five-year, $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods Program to support the initiative, which officially launched in January 2022. Connecticut Children’s is now leading an impressive cross-sector team of early childhood experts, community leaders, community-based organizations and residents to identify community priorities and enhance the academic, health and life outcomes of North Hartford residents. 

About Connecticut Children’s  
Connecticut Children’s is the only health system in Connecticut 100% dedicated to children, providing more than 30 pediatric specialties. Kids and parents love our exceptional care offered at 40+ locations in three states, and through Video Visit. Our experts and community leaders are committed to breakthrough research and innovative partnerships which have won us multiple awards. We are Magnet recognized, a designation only 7% of hospitals achieve, and Women’s Choice Award has recognized us as Best Children’s Hospital and for best pediatric emergency care. 

Connecticut Children’s is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve access to health care for all children.     

About Hartford Public Library
With seven locations throughout the city, the library provides education, intellectual enrichment and cultural development for thousands of children, youth and adults every year. Hartford Public Library has also gained local and national recognition for its wide range of new initiatives and partnerships designed to meet the needs of a diverse and dynamic city and region, including immigration services, employment assistance and youth leadership training. www.hplct.org 

About Hartford Public Schools  
Hartford Public Schools is a dynamic, thriving, learning community committed to providing educational equity to approximately 16,500 students. The urban district ensures that our families are engaged, inspired and well-aware of the opportunities and resources available to them as parents and partners. Our 39 Schools provide choices to families that include specialized schools and programs, as well as theme-based magnets; each offers a unique curriculum that prepares our students to be successful in and beyond school. The district’s active approach to seeking stakeholder voice informs decisions and co-designs and deploys strategies that deliberately target disrupting historical patterns of inequity. 

Media Contact: Anyeline Céspedes López | United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut | acespedes@unitedwayinc.org | 787.502.0436