Our Work - Youth Success

Youth Success

When you support United Way, you’re helping to ensure young people graduate high school on time prepared for college and career. Together with our partners, we offer children access to quality early learning programs as well as extended school day and summer learning opportunities.

Because of your collective support, the following outcomes were achieved in our region in the last year:

5,862 children accessed quality early childhood education, academic supports and related services.

88% of children ages birth to five met age-appropriate developmental milestones, entering school ready to learn.

91% of students improved literacy skills through participating in weekly one-on-one reading sessions with a United Way volunteer.


We invest in programs and initiatives that identify and address developmental challenges and connect children and youth with opportunities to gain academic skills. We’re also working to support community-wide systems for academic skill development.

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR)

CGLR is a partnership between schools, municipalities, businesses and community organizations to rally behind a coordinated effort to ensure children are reading on grade level by the start of fourth grade. This critical milestone marks the time when students transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ and is an important predictor of on-time high school graduation. Locally, our United Way is serving in a leadership role to support CGLR campaigns in Hartford and New Britain.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL)

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a free subscription program that provides one book per month to Hartford children from birth to age five.

The books are delivered directly to a child’s home to help build their home libraries. Since August 2020, the program has enrolled more than 6,295 Hartford children who have collectively received more than 50,000 books.

United Way

United Way Readers matches a caring volunteer with a student who is behind in reading. We understand the importance of investing in a student’s future; as the relationship develops we see volunteers starting to read more books connected to the interests of students and students come to see that reading is a big part of accomplishing their hopes and dreams. Reading on grade-level is a key indicator for graduating high school on time prepared for college or career.

United WE READ!

We know that reading is an essential tool for success in school, work and life. And, research tells us that reading proficiently by the start of fourth grade an important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet only 40 percent of fourth graders in Connecticut are meeting this crucial milestone.  Moreover, struggling readers are disproportionately Black or Hispanic and/or from low-income households, and score on average 35 points below White or higher-income peers on standardized reading tests – the largest gap in the nation.

Literacy Kits

You can help build children’s libraries at home and in the classroom. A United Way Literacy Kit is comprised of a book and a collection of related props, games or other activities designed to make reading interactive and enjoyable for both the child and the reader. Contents of the Literacy Kit help bring the book to life for the child and deepen the reading experience. So far, thousands of children have received United Way Literacy Kits created by workplace volunteers across our region.

Success Story

Meet Quinn
As an infant, Quinn’s parents noticed he wasn’t developing at the same pace as his peers. “He would be excelling in some respects, but was just so far behind in others,” said his mother, Susan Hilerio. “At one point, we didn’t know if he was going to be verbal.” Quinn’s primary care doctor recommended Stepping Stones, and after some consideration, Susan enrolled him.

While Harc staff worked with Quinn on motor skills and speech therapy, they also helped Susan learn how to care for his needs at home while her husband was deployed in the military.

In total, United Way supports more than 3,200 children in early childhood programs because the brain is developing most rapidly during those years, so youth like Quinn meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten better prepared for success.