A Read To Succeed Success Story

“These children are our future and I encourage you to volunteer. You won’t be disappointed!”

Cindy Grunewald, pictured above, is a volunteer with Read to Succeed, a program that helps third grade students in Wichita Public Schools improve their ability to read. We spoke with Cindy about how Read to Succeed has impacted her life and strengthened our community.

Justine Milmine from INTRUST Bank reads with a third grade student as part of the United Way Read to Succeed program.
A community volunteer reads with a third grade student as part of the United Way Read to Succeed program.

Last year, I participated for the first time in the United Way Read to Succeed program, and it was an incredible and rewarding experience. As a Koch employee, we are very fortunate our company has a very active community affairs team who promote, advertise and support volunteer efforts like Read to Succeed. When I saw this volunteer opportunity posted, I thought it would be a natural fit for me. I love to read and thought it would be fun to help a third grader improve so I signed up to be a reading buddy in August 2021. On my first day, another reading buddy volunteer told me she had been supporting the program for three years and it had been the most rewarding experience she has had.

What I didn’t know when I signed up was the critical need in Kansas to help young children read and how it was made worse by COVID.  Statistics are very concerning. In fourth grade, 66% of Kansas students are not reading at grade level and start to fall behind in school. This has long term impacts as they are four times more likely to drop out.* By spending 30 minutes a week helping third graders read, you can see their confidence grow over the school year and their reading skills improve. The teachers track and share their reading improvement over the year, testing progress in both words per minute and reading comprehension. I can’t tell you much it means to hear your reading buddy has more than doubled their reading performance, and at the same time be excited to see you and to learn!

I volunteered at Jackson Elementary and was very impressed with the staff. The teachers really care, asking their friends to come into school to help third grade classes read because students are sad they don’t all have reading buddies, and student advocates funded by the Pando Initiative – all helping these children every day. 

Students need our help – just 30 minutes a week – to provide additional support and encouragement. These children are our future and I encourage you to volunteer. You won’t be disappointed! 

Hope to see you as a United Way volunteer with the 2022 – 2023 Read to Succeed program!

Cindy Grunewald

Thank you for volunteering Cindy! Your success story shares the impact Read to Succeed can have on our community. A well-educated workforce will result in a stronger community.

Are you inspired to serve as a reading coach after hearing Cindy’s story? Join more than 250 community volunteers in helping our students succeed. All it takes is 30 minutes a week. You’ll meet with a third grade student at their school to listen to them read and provide intervention tactics. Everyone (men and women) is welcome to volunteer. No financial gift is needed to participate and FREE training is provided.

Learn more about Read to Succeed and sign up today!


Published On: November 15, 2022


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