Marking 30 Years of Literacy Impact with UGI Utilities, Inc.
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is proud to share this guest post from literacy champion and longtime friend of RIF, Joe Swope, Manager of Media Relations and Special Projects, of UGI Utilities. This year as we mark 30 years of partnership supporting the children and families of Pennsylvania, we are excited for you to hear from Joe who has been involved in managing the RIF partnership for many years, volunteering at book distributions, reading to children, and leading the UGI team to drive literacy impact through their dedicated employee volunteers.
30 Years of Impact
UGI Utilities, Inc., recently completed the celebration of the 30th anniversary of its partnership with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). In that time, UGI has provided nearly 500,000 first grade students with 1.5 million books. UGI employees have also donated over 20,000 hours of volunteer time helping students discover the joy of reading. Most recently, as we marked the 30th anniversary celebration, UGI held a special drawing and provided 33 UGI-RIF schools with a prize basket of library-quality books and other prizes to drive reading engagement and motivation for the students they serve. In this milestone year, it was important for UGI to help our partner schools mark the occasion while celebrating reading.
UGI Literacy Commitment
UGI is a natural gas and electric utility serving more than 730,000 customers in 45 counties in Pennsylvania and one county in Maryland. In 1991, recognizing that the ongoing success of the company was integrally tied to the vitality of the communities it served, UGI focused on education as a key community initiative. That commitment remains strong and has been expanded to include support of STEM and career awareness initiatives.
Research has demonstrated time and time again that students who do not read at grade level by Grade 4 will likely have difficulty throughout their academic career. UGI views early childhood literacy as a first critical step in workforce and economic development. The UGI-RIF program provides an effective means of distributing quality books to students throughout the region.
Typically, as part of UGI-RIF program, full-time employees with at least six months of service are encouraged to volunteer at local school distributions. Employees may be asked to help students put their names in their book selections, read to groups of children or participate in a special event planned by the school.
To enhance interest in the UGI-RIF program and provide schools a program option, UGI created The Reading Wizard a character that knows all because he has read every book ever written. UGI employees volunteer to play the Wizard at school distribution events, while students also receive a coloring book, “The Story of the Reading Wizard.”
Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, UGI and RIF found creative ways to deliver books to children throughout schools in the region served by UGI. Although UGI employees were unable to volunteer at their normal levels, the participating school continued to create memorable events promoting literacy.UGI-RIF Kids
The smiles on the children’s faces we serve and the wonderful feedback we hear from the community underscores our partnership’s reach and impact:
“I just want to take a moment to tell you how much our students LOVE getting new books!” Rebecca Anderson, Instructional Coach at Ross Elementary in the School District of Lancaster, said. “I particularly appreciate the high-quality titles you send! We literally hear squeals when students choose (the children’s book series) Junie B. Jones!”
“On behalf of our first-grade students of Donegan Elementary Community School, I just wanted to say thank you so much for partnering with Reading Is Fundamental and giving our students opportunities to practice their literacy skills!” Tammy Giampapa, Reading Specialist, said. “Every year, our students look very forward to our planned RIF day! Choosing a book of their interest brings the biggest smiles to our first graders - they get extremely happy when I tell them they get to take it home and keep it!”
UGI is proud of the contributions it has made in advancing childhood literacy through its long-standing partnership with Reading Is Fundamental.