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

  • As a volunteer, United Way will match you with a child who participates in programming at one of our partner agencies. You will then create a book package for that same child and drop it off at United Way offices four times a year. Reading packages consist of 2-3 new or gently-used reading materials, handwritten notes of encouragement or book reviews, and any other items you would like 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 27, 2017
    • December 8, 2017
    • February 16, 2018
    • April 20, 2018

Get Involved

  • Registration for the 2017-2018 school year is closed. ​
    • 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, 204 local children were matched with 142 United Way donors. Children receiving books were between the ages of 2-12 and participate in youth programming at the following agency program partner agencies: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, COA Youth & Family Centers, Parents Place, and the United Community Center.

Since its inception, this program has provided nearly 10,000 books to over 800 youth in the Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha community!


Contact Sarah Marbes via email or at 414.263.8183 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.