United Way of the Plains Donates Books to Students at 14 Wichita Public Schools in Shocker Neighborhood

WICHITA, Kan., Thursday, May 19, 2022— Last week, students in grades K-3 at 14 schools in the Shocker neighborhood received new reading materials to take home and combat summer learning loss. A total of 6,100 books were delivered, with 3,050 children receiving two books and resources for parents to assist students with improving their reading skills. The books featured characters of color and were purchased by United Way of the Plains from the 2022 Coaching for Literacy fundraising event in partnership with Wichita State University’s Men’s Basketball during a game played last February to support local childhood literacy efforts.

In 2019, 66% of Kansas fourth-grade students were not reading at a proficient level. Students who can’t read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Illiterate children grow into illiterate adults, with 43% living in poverty compared to 4% of literate adults. To combat this issue, United Way of the Plains worked with Wichita Public Schools and Wichita State University for the past two years to elevate awareness about illiteracy and raise money to buy books for children through the Coaching for Literacy program. Coaching for Literacy is a national initiative that uses the power of sports to raise awareness about the need to improve literacy.

This year several volunteer groups, including a group from McConnell Air Force Base, sorted and packed thousands of books for the school deliveries. Volunteers from Women United®, Young Leaders United, Wichita State University, Kappa Alpha Psi, Kansas Health Foundation and Capitol Federal, handed out the books on May 11 and 12.

United Way of the Plains CEO and President Pete Najera said, “We are grateful to be the recipients of this fundraiser hosted by Coaching For Literacy and Shocker Basketball, and happy to partner with them in strengthening childhood literacy in our local neighborhoods by providing access to new books with relatable characters and inspiring parents to provide reading support and encouragement. This was a true community effort with financial donations coming in from around the area, a variety of volunteer groups preparing the books for distribution and then all 6,100 books delivered in a two-day period by people who are passionate about reading and life-long learning. We’re demonstrating to these families how much this community is invested in the future of their children and how much we believe in their potential.”

Cecilia Thibault of INTRUST Bank was one of the members of Young Leaders United who gave books to second graders at Jackson Elementary School. “One of the children remembered the deliveries that were made to his school last year and told me that the book donations were one of his favorite parts of the school year. It was inspirational to see that kind of excitement and I’d love to see this tradition continue every year and even expand it to more schools.”

The 2022 #Fight4Literacy game hosted by the Wichita State University Men’s Basketball team produced donations from 138 contributors and matching grant donations from the Kansas Health Foundation and International Paper


Book deliveries were made last week to:

  • Adams Elementary School
  • Buckner Performing Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School
  • Cloud Elementary School
  • College Hill Elementary School
  • Gordon Parks Academy STEM Leaders in Applied and Media Arts
  • Irving Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • L’Ouverture Career Explorations and Technology Magnet Elementary School
  • Mueller Aerospace and Engineering Discovery Magnet Elementary School
  • Ortiz Elementary School
  • Park Elementary School
  • Spaght Science and Communications Magnet Elementary School
  • Washington Elementary School
  • Woodland Health and Wellness Magnet Elementary

Click on photo or video to download.

MEDIA CONTACT: Angie Prather, Vice President of Marketing and Chief Community Engagement Officer,(316) 267‑1321, ext. 4105, aprather@unitedwayplains.org

United Way of the Plains is a nonprofit and for-impact organization that focuses on health, education, financial stability and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Our mission is to improve lives by harnessing the caring power of our community to advance the common good in south central Kansas. Follow us on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.


Published On: May 19, 2022


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