Emerging Readers

Emerging Readers

In the State of Wisconsin, 67% 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

This year, we're modifying Emerging Readers to be completely virtual to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our volunteers, partners, staff, and students. We will continue to match our volunteers with a child(ren) in programming at one of our partner agencies. However, the process for donating books will be completely virtual. What does this mean? Donating will be just a few clicks away! United Way will work hand-in-hand (virtually of course) with locally owned bookstores to identify the perfect books on behalf of our volunteers and deliver them to each agency for distribution to the matched student(s).

Thoughtfully curated book packages will be provided by United Way to participating agencies during the following timeframes:

  • Fall: October 2020
  • Holiday Break: November 2020
  • Spring: February 2021
  • Summer Break: April 2021

Get Involved

Registration for the 2020-21 school year is currently open.

Sign-Up Now


In addition, you can search for more literacy-related volunteer opportunities on Volunteers United.


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, La Casa de Esperanza, Penfield Children's Center, and the United Community Center.

Since its inception, this program has provided 15,000+ books to 1,200+ youth in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties!

Donate Now



Contact Brea Stevenson via email or at 414.263.8163.



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 Who can participate?

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

 What information do I receive?

First names and children’s ages are the only information exchanged. 

 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. Exact timing for registration varies by year, but typically opens near the start of the school year and runs through early fall.

 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.

 When do students receive the books?

Book will be delivered to nonprofits 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. 
 Where are you buying the books?

United Way will work with locally owned and operated bookstores to purchase the books on your behalf.

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© 2020 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.