Reading Champions Day Celebrates 11 Years of Greenwich United Way Building Students’ Fluency

Starting in 2008 with eight volunteers in one school, Reading Champions today boasts more than 120 volunteers in 11 schools and four after-school programs reaching 500+ students

APRIL 30, 2019 – GREENWICH, Conn. – On May 10th the Town of Greenwich will celebrate 11 years of the incredible work by Greenwich United Way volunteer tutors on Reading Champions Day. Reading Champions began in 2008 with a pilot program at North Mianus School with eight reading tutors trained by literacy specialists to work with 24 students in first and second grade. Today, Reading Champions reaches more than 500 students with 120 trained volunteers working in all 11 Greenwich public elementary schools and four after-school programs – Greenwich Boys & Girls Club, BANC: Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center, YWCA and YMCA at Hamilton Avenue School, which was added this year.

Reading Champions was founded by retired GPS teacher and guidance counselor Joan Lowe, who recognized the need for in-school one-on-one literacy programs. With the support of the Greenwich United Way, Lane developed a program that enables volunteers to teach students how to read and comprehend in ways best suited to their learning styles. She remains a volunteer and Site Liaison for other Reading Champions volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, supporting about 50 students this year.

“Joan and her fellow Reading Champions epitomize the mission of the Greenwich United Way to find it, fund it, fix it. Knowing there were children who needed extra support in literacy, Joan developed this incredible program that brings together reading specialists with committed volunteers who are trained to provide dedicated reading support, fostering literacy skills and a love of learning in students,” said Cecile Meunier, Program Coordinator for the Greenwich United Way. “Reading Champions Day celebrates an idea that began as a test run in one school and now continues to grow exponentially 11 years later, proof that the devotion of volunteers in our community make Greenwich the exceptional town that it is.”

Volunteers enjoy a mutually fulfilling experience, fully supported with dedicated on-site teams and GPS literacy specialist partners. Committed to its valuable corps of volunteers, Greenwich United Way hosts events throughout the year to nurture volunteer skillsets and honor their work.

“Being a Reading Champions tutor is a truly enriching personal experience,” said volunteer Patricia Santonocito. “The opportunity to foster the desire and ability to read is a joy; and impacting a child’s development and confidence is astonishing. Most importantly, Reading Champions students profit from and enjoy the experience. A win, win for both tutor and child.”  

Since its inception, Reading Champions has touched the lives and strengthened the academic confidence of nearly 4,000 students. The program will expand this summer to provide year-round support, enabling students to continue to make progress and meet grade standards before the upcoming academic year.

From May 14 to June 11, Reading Champions will have 16 end-of-year celebrations at all participating schools and after-school programs.

To learn more about the impact of Reading Champions, visit Prospective volunteers interested in participating can fill out an application at

About Greenwich United Way

The Greenwich United Way (GUW) shares a name with approximately 1,200 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 health, educational and self-sufficiency needs specific to its local community and to create and affect meaningful, lasting solutions. Through various fundraising efforts and on-going research, the organization is able to directly grant 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. For more information, visit, or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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