United Way volunteers prepare Kinder Kits filled with literacy supplies for Woodland kindergarteners this summer.

Yolo County Children Receive More Than 12,000 Books Through United Way During Pandemic


SACRAMENTO (9/2/20) – Yolo County children stuck at home during the pandemic had reading activities through the summer thanks to United Way California Capital Region, which adapted its literacy programs for the pandemic. From distributing books and educational materials to holding a virtual version of the Woodland Kids Read and Dream literacy event, United Way worked to help Yolo County children avoid the summer learning gap known as the summer slide.

“In a normal year, kids can fall behind by two to three months over the summer unless they have learning opportunities to help close the gap,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “By the time they reach fifth grade, this achievement gap compounds and low-income students can fall up to three years behind their peers. I’m proud of how quickly we were able to adapt our Yolo County reading programs so kids could continue to learn during this challenging summer.”

United Way’s annual Woodland Kids Read event went virtual in May to continue the annual first-grade literacy celebration. The program extended through the summer with a goal of giving every Woodland elementary school child a brand new book. Thanks to program sponsors, including the three Rotary Clubs of Woodland, Union Bank, Yolo Community Foundation and Woodland Veterinary Hospital, more than 6,500 books have been distributed throughout the community this summer. Just in time for the school year, 650 incoming kindergarteners in Woodland received United Way Kinder Kits filled with school supplies such as small whiteboards, markers, crayons, pencils, masks, hand sanitizer, books, flash cards, rulers, bookmarks, science activities, headphones and community resources for families. The Kinder Kits were delivered in place of United Way’s KinderCamp, a four-week summer program offered each year for incoming kindergarteners who have not had the opportunity to attend preschool. KinderCamp sponsors included Bayer, US Bank, the City of Woodland Measure J and Tri Counties Bank.

Year-round, United Way has been providing free books to Yolo County children under age 5 through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. United Way has enrolled 1,075 children who each receive a book in the mail every month. Since the onset of the pandemic, 5,632 books have been delivered to local children. Funding for this program is set to end in January, so while United Way is not taking any new registrations for now, it is seeking community support to continue the program. 

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources.

To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.