Greenwich United Way Reading Champions Graduation Ceremonies

A total of 2,496 Elementary School Students Emerge from Greenwich Literacy Program Since 2008

GREENWICH, Conn., May 24 – Greenwich United Way Reading Champions graduation ceremonies kicked off this month. A total of 458 students will graduate this year from the organization’s flagship volunteer program that focuses on developing literacy skills for elementary school students in Greenwich. Close to 2,500 students have completed this program since 2008 when the program launched with co-founder Joan Lowe in collaboration with the Greenwich United Way Youth Service Coordinator. 

Reading Champions is a partnership between Greenwich United Way and Greenwich Public Schools. Unlike any other in town, the program depends on trained volunteers to use a unique curriculum to help students read with better proficiency and ease.  Last December Reading Champions expanded into a 14th site at Old Greenwich School with 12 tutors and 26 students and now partners with almost every Greenwich elementary school in addition to; the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC), Community Centers, Inc., the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, and the YWCA of Greenwich.  

Along with the new site, Kaitlin M. Roig-DeBellis who is known as the Inspirational Teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary, Author of ‘Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours’ and Founder of non-profit, Classes 4 Classes ( became the first Reading Champions Ambassador. DeBellis keynoted the 8th annual Reading Champions volunteer appreciation tea at the Woman’s Club of Greenwich on Thursday, May 19th

“I loved what Joan said to me when we first met, in describing what she says to her students when she first meets them. ‘You are good at reading now, I’m going to make you a champion.’ She then described the look on the child’s face: ‘joy!’. These students are champions, they are determined to be the best readers that they can be, and Reading Champions empowers that desire and drive” said DeBellis at the Old Greenwich School opening and ribbon cutting ceremony last December.  

Graduation ceremonies kicked off on May 3rd at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich with a total of 42 students, each student receiving a Reading Champions certificate, medal and new book. Since then 18 kindergarten students graduated at North Mianus School, 23 students graduated at Cos Cob School, 27 kids graduated at North Street School, 33 graduated at Julian Curtiss School, 31 graduated at North Mianus School, 26 graduated at Riverside School today and 21 will graduate at International School of Dundee tomorrow. Also this week, 18 will graduate at Hamilton Avenue School.

On May 31st 10 will graduate at Y.W.C.A. of Greenwich, 38 will graduate at New Lebanon School and 51 students will graduate at BANC. On June 9th the final ceremony will take place with 27 students graduating at Old Greenwich School with Program Ambassador, DeBellis in attendance.

Reading Champions information and volunteer applications are available through the Greenwich United Way website ( Questions related to the literacy program should go to Program Coordinator, Marie Wardell ( 

About Reading Champions: 

Greenwich United Way Reading Champions is a literacy program partnering Greenwich youth with community volunteers in an effort to build fluency skills during the school year. Since 2008, Reading Champions volunteers have assisted over 2,500 children in achieving individual reading goals in fluency. By enabling students to obtain immediate feedback and receive one-on-one personal attention, the program has been a resounding and proven success. In conjunction with the Greenwich Public School reading curriculum, Reading Champions contributes to the development and growth of students’ fluency. Currently Greenwich United Way Reading Champions serves 10 of 11 elementary schools in Greenwich and the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC), Community Centers, Inc. of Greenwich (CCI), Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich (BGCG), and the Y.W.C.A. of Greenwich. Volunteer tutors are trained, no teaching experience is needed, and tutoring opportunities are always available.

About Greenwich United Way:

The Greenwich United Way shares a name with approximately 1,400 other similar organizations across the nation, although the Greenwich, Connecticut division is a privately incorporated, locally governed, nonprofit agency. As a volunteer driven organization, the Greenwich United Way exists to help identify and address the human service needs specific to its local community and to create and affect meaningful solutions. Through various fundraising efforts, the organization is able to directly allocate the funds necessary to accomplish this goal. The Greenwich United Way also invests in and conducts collaborative efforts to address broad based community needs with partnering nonprofit agencies.

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