ReadNYC: Growing a Love of Reading and Opportunity in Mott Haven



“This is a community that is full of opportunity. It’s a community that is resilient,” said Unique Brathwaite, Executive Director, LIFT–New York, a United Way of New York City (UWNYC) partner, about the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx—one of our City’s poorest communities and a target neighborhood for our impact work—at a UWNYC-led community visit on August 2. 

The visit conducted at Mott Haven’s P.S. 49 provided an opportunity for our supporters to see and hear firsthand how we—together—are making an impact, specifically through our ReadNYC program. 

In communities like Mott Haven, ReadNYC is confronting the alarming fact that six out of ten kids aren’t reading on grade-level by third grade in NYC. This fact matters because kids who miss this milestone are 74% more likely to drop out of high school. And those high school dropouts who live in our City’s poorest communities are more likely to find themselves as adults struggling to make ends meet and continuing a devastating cycle of poverty.  

To break this pattern, ReadNYC is helping families and communities as a whole—from the child who can’t read, the educators who are under-resourced, to the parents who can’t make ends meet. It’s fighting to get kids reading on grade-level by building access to quality education while empowering parents abilities to form more stable homes. 

On the community visit, our participating supporters heard directly from Deysi, one of our ReadNYC parents. For Deysi, ReadNYC has helped every member of her family—her two sons, her husband, and now her baby girl Marieli.   

“She sees her brothers reading. Every time she’ll turn around my oldest is with a comic book or a different book. And so she gets a book too,” said Deysi.

Supporters also heard from ReadNYC students, teachers, and more. And they immersed themselves in ReadNYC’s Once Upon a Summer program, a reading intensive that aims to keep kids learning all summer long by supporting them and their parents. 

During the visit Brathwaite further remarked, “When you take a collective impact approach, like the one that United Way has, that’s what’s going to be the change. That’s what’s going to be the difference for families like Deysi, for communities like Mott Haven, for schools like P.S. 49.”

And it’s true. Individuals like you, community-based organizations, companies, government, and foundations—when we fight collectively to help families like Deysi’s we truly can make a positive impact.  

Surrounded by her brothers' flourishing love of reading, just imagine what the future holds for baby Marieli.