Why We Do It

It’s simple. Children who can read proficiently by third grade will be more successful in school.

  • In Kansas City, less than half of third graders are reading on grade level. In many high-need schools, it’s less than 25 percent.
  • Students who can’t read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. 
  • Eighty-five percent of youth in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate.

“If we can reduce the dropout rate by helping kids improve their reading skills, lives will be transformed and our city will be positively changed,” says Jean Rundle, co-founder of Lead to Read.

“When children and caring adults bond over books, it sets the stage for developing the social, emotional and reading skills necessary for academic and personal success,” says Pauly Hart, Executive Director, Lead to Read KC.

Reading Mentor and student

Lead to Read KC is dedicated to improving the social, emotional and reading skills of children in high-need schools. Launched in 2011, through our traditional in-classroom program we connect 1,100 elementary students with volunteer Reading Mentors in more than 50 classrooms across the metropolitan area each week. In 2020, Lead to Read KC began offering a digital reading-based mentoring program to continue to serve students at a time of historic need.   

Want to help? Here’s how.

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