The Need

When you think of a 'thriving northern Nevada' what comes to mind - job growth, affordable housing, quality education? An alarmingly low high school drop out rate is probably not a part of your vision.

A direct predictor of who will go on to graduate from high school is third grade reading proficiency.  Over half of northern Nevada’s children are reading below grade level, and our high school graduation rate is down near the bottom nationally. High school dropouts qualify for only about 10% of new jobs. Local companies with new jobs may have to go outside Nevada to find qualified applicants. In Nevada, this affects our state’s health and overall economy.

Strong early readers mean a successful northern Nevada. There is a direct, proven relationship between 3rd grade reading scores and high school graduation rates. And high school graduation is a key factor in life success and our state's economy.

United Way is putting valuable resources where they can have the greatest impact. The greatest potential is working with our youngest learners now.

The success of our children - specifically each child's success with early grade reading as it relates to high school graduation - is the most critical issue to people in our communities.

We must improve 3rd grade reading scores:

  • Students who do not graduate from high school are more likely to be unemployed, have a child as a teenager, and rely on government assistance.

  • Every "drop-out" costs the community as estimated $260,000.

  • The low graduation rate directly affects Nevada's economy by contributing to the lack of an educated, skilled workforce.

  • Over 70 percent of Nevada children are not reading proficiently at grade level.

  • For every 50 children who don't learn to read in kindergarten, 44 of them will still have trouble in 3rd grade.

  • If a child comes from a low-income family, the situation is even more serious.