Emerging Readers

Emerging Readers

In the State of Wisconsin, 49% of youth do not read at a proficient level. In an effort to promote literacy and put books into the hands of those children in need, the Emerging Leaders launched the Emerging Readers program. This program provides a simple opportunity for busy individuals or families to make an impact in the life of a child at one of our local partner agencies by sharing the joy of reading and opening worlds of possibilities.

Opportunity Overview

United Way will match you with a child in programming at one of our partner agencies. You will create a book package for that child and drop it off at United Way offices four times this year. Reading packages are 2-3 new or like-new books, notes of encouragement or book reviews, and other items to accompany your reading selections. United Way will deliver the packages to agencies for distribution to child participants.

Book packages are due on the following dates

  • October 25, 2019
  • December 6, 2019
  • February 7, 2020
  • April 17, 2020

Get Involved

Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is now closed, however due to volunteers moving, kids joining the program, etc. additional volunteers may be needed throughout the school year. Contact John Renaud via email or at 414.263.8187 if you're interested in joining the volunteer waitlist.

In addition, you can:

  • Search for more literacy-related volunteer opportunities on Volunteers United
  • Consider donating new or gently used children's books to United Way to supplement this program


Last year, 215 children were matched with 150 United Way volunteers. Children who received books were ages 1-12 and participated in programming at the following partner agencies: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, COA Youth & Family Centers, Penfield Children's Center, and the United Community Center.

Since its inception, this program has provided 12,500 books to 1,000 youth in the Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha community!


Contact John Renaud via email or at 414.263.8187 with any questions.



Open All
 Who can participate?

Anyone interested in donating books to a child(ren). Sign up as individual and/or provide books as a family!

 How many books do I provide?

We typically recommend 2-3 books per child per book donation.

 What information do I receive?

First names and children’s ages are the only information exchanged. Children’s interests are requested, you may also receive this information.

 Am I matched with the same child throughout the year?


 Do I need to sign-up every year or am I automatically registered?

You will need to register each year. Registration begins in July and runs through October until all agency participants are matched.

 Who receives the books?

We work with United Way Partner Agencies to manage this program and ensure that the child signed up receives the books donated by their volunteer.

 What are the book drop-off dates?

Book donations take place four times throughout the school year.

  • October, as school begins.
  • December, over the holidays.
  • February, heading into spring time.
  • April, before school lets out to help combat summer slide. 
© 2020 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.