United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PBS39 Announce Joint Education Initiative

Featured Image: Guests await LV Reads public announcement at Donegan Elementary School (PHOTO CREDIT Marco Calderon)

Lehigh Valley Reads will support grade-level reading success across the Lehigh Valley

Allentown, PA, March 4, 2019 – Friday, March 1, national Read Across America Day, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) and PBS39 hosted a press conference at Donegan Elementary School to announce a joint endeavor that will aid grade-level reading aptitude across the region. Lehigh Valley Reads (LV Reads) is a regional literacy campaign to ensure that Lehigh Valley students read on grade level by the end of third grade by 2025.

The press event featured dignitaries, special guests, Donegan Elementary school staff, and 5th grade student ambassadors wearing Cat in the Hat hats. Speakers included Dr. Joseph Roy, Superintendent, Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) and Board Chair for UWGLV, Jill Pereira, Vice President Education & Impact, UWGLV and LV Reads Steering Committee Co-Chair, and Angela Zanelli, LV Reads Campaign Director. 1st grade students, outfitted in LV Reads tee shirts, enjoyed Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop read by Dr. Roy. They were joined by parents and Cat in the Hat itself. Attendees were given the opportunity to visit classrooms to experience more guest readers.

“Lehigh Valley Reads is a wonderful example of collective impact” said Dr. Joseph Roy. “United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PBS39 are two premier organizations focused on our children and early childhood education. Lehigh Valley Reads will create a powerful synergy across school districts, non-profit partners and early learning centers that will have a long-lasting impact on our children and the future prosperity of the Lehigh Valley.”

From birth to third grade, children learn to read. From third grade on, children read to learn. Third grade reading proficiency is the most important indicator of high school graduation and career success. In 2018, about 1 in 3 or 35% of Lehigh Valley fourth grade students entered the classroom not reading on grade level. In some Lehigh Valley schools that percentage is much higher. LV Reads wants to change that.

According to Jill Pereira, “Lehigh Valley Reads has the potential to mobilize our entire community in support of transformational opportunities for all of our children. The ability to read changes everything.”

To work toward their literacy goal, LV Reads will focus on three primary audiences: school districts and educators, children and families, and community members from diverse sectors. To implement this program, school districts and educators as well as families will be offered support and evidence-based strategies. Lehigh Valley community members will be engaged as informers, advocates, stewards, mentors, and champions. The LV Reads campaign affects over 220,000 students from two counties. LV Reads builds education systems in which students are READY, PRESENT, RESILIENT, SUPPORTED AND ENGAGED.

March 1st Additional Special Guests:
David Lewis – President, UWGLV
Tim Fallon – CEO, PBS39
Dr. Jack Silva – Assistant Superintendent for Education/Chief Academic Officer, BASD and LV Reads Steering Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Bonnie Coyle Ronco – Chairman of Community Health and Preventative Medicine at
St. Luke’s University Health Network and LV Reads Steering Committee member
Tim Mulligan – President & CEO, Communities in Schools Lehigh Valley and LV Reads Steering Committee member

On February 28th, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and PBS39 hosted guests from the LV Reads coalitions, the steering committee, donors and board members at a VIP announcement event. Ron Fairchild, President/CEO of Smarter Learning Group, gave the Keynote address and proclamations were offered from Northampton and Lehigh counties declaring March 1 Lehigh Valley Reads Day. Representatives from UWGLV and PBS39 also spoke.

“As stewards of our community’s resources and vision, it is incumbent upon us to take on the toughest challenges, bring us all together, and make a real difference,” stated Tim Fallon, CEO at PBBS39.

Attendees enjoyed a champagne toast, wine from Galen Glen Winery, beer donated from Weyerbacher Brewing Company, and food by Catering by Karen Hunter to celebrate the launch. The Lehigh Valley Reads logo and mascot were unveiled along with the premier of a promotional video.

“The Lehigh Valley Reads initiative is so important,” remarked Colleen Mooney McGee, Manager of Community and Government Relations for Crayola. “because literacy is the foundation upon which children and their families gain access to greater opportunities – educationally, socially and economically.” Crayola, a United Way Community School corporate sponsor of Paxinosa and Cheston Elementary Schools, sponsored the February 28th LV Reads launch event.

February 28th Speakers and Special Guests:
Dr. Joseph Roy
Dr. Jack Silva
Jill Pereira
Tim Fallon
Ron Fairchild
Angela Zanelli
Colleen Mooney McGee
David Lewis – President, UWGLV
Marci Lesko – Executive Vice President, UWGLV
Sue Shaffer – UWGLV 2018 Campaign Co-Chair
Becky Bartlett – (on behalf of Lamont McClure) Deputy Director of Administration, Northampton County
Amy Zanelli – (on behalf of Phil Armstrong) Lehigh County Commissioner District 3


The mission of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is to provide the leadership, convene the partnerships, and develop the resources and solutions that improve our community. We remain committed to these goals and sincerely appreciate the continued support of partners, program providers and donors throughout the Lehigh Valley. www.UnitedWayGLV.org

PBS39 is a community-owned public media station licensed in Allentown to the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation, serving eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. PBS39 acts as the catalyst to promote civic engagement, and to fulfill the regional needs of the Greater Lehigh Valley through its dynamic communication platforms and resources. PBS39 Reporter Corps journalists are embedded in the ten counties that make up the Greater Lehigh Valley. The Reporter Corps creates community-focused content for PBS39 News Tonight and for the PBS39 digital platform. For more information, visit PBS39.org.


Information and image provided to TVL by:
Zandra Whalen
Director, Marketing and Design
United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
Celebrating 100 years of service to the Lehigh Valley.
1110 American Parkway NE  Suite F-120  Allentown, PA 18109