The Crisis

Did you know that reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade is the most critical milestone on the road to college and a career? Yet every year, more than 8 out of 10 low-income children in New York City miss the milestone. On average, less than 1 out of 3 New York City public school children read on grade-level by third grade. NYC also has the lowest high school graduation rate for Black and Latino boys.

What’s at Stake?

Nearly 74% of students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade never graduate. Failure to graduate from high school has dire consequences for individuals, families, communities and society.


  • Improve elementary school success, focusing on increasing the number of children achieving proficiency in third grade
  • Expand middle school success
  • Increase high school graduation, college readiness and college completion rates for NYC public school students


Supports a comprehensive, integrated approach to early learning, bringing families together with schools, community organizations, health care providers and more, to ensure learning success for our city’s children. By 2020, United Way of New York City will double the number of children reading on grade level by third grade in 10 of NYC’s toughest neighborhoods.


Graduate, Prepare, Succeed (GPS-NYC) helps ninth grade students with a history of chronic absenteeism graduate on time and ready for college. Sometimes you just need help charting a course and our initiative pairs schools with community-based organizations to help students navigate barriers to attending school. Students receive academic support, attendance outreach, counseling, and case management.