Early Literacy Initiative


Summer Palooza 2022

Watch Story Time Videos

View the full selection of Story Time Videos. Volunteers have selected their favorite books to read for Story Time with United Way. Whether you are a teacher needing a few minutes or a parent at work - your child can have a bedtime story every night with United Way. 

The next series will be filmed in the summer of 2025. Sign up as a volunteer at www.setxvolunteers.org to get a notification when the next filming series is scheduled.


Schools interested in a United Way Book Vending Machine should complete the application below. Contact us with any questions at 409-729-4040

School Address
Principal Contact
Librarian Contact
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United Way Super Readers
1st grade students earning 3 or more AR points per grading period are entered into a drawing for a literacy prize valued at $25. Our United Way delivers the bag with books for the Super Reader at your school. At the end of the school year, 1st grade students earning 15 AR points or more are entered into the Grand Prize drawing valued at $100.00

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summer palooza image 24 SUMMER READING PALOOZA

To continue their journey in the literary world

In 2023, the United Way MSJC Summer Reading Palooza provided 950 students in Kindergarten and First Grade with books for the Summer. 

In 2022, our Summer Reading Palooza provided more than 350 students with a backpack full of books for the summer. Special thanks to our volunteers from Young Emerging Leaders - Port Arthur for sorting and preparing all the books! Thank you State Farm for their colorful donation. 

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." - Margaret Fuller

Early Literacy Initiative History




In the last 13 years, the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County as invested nearly $3,000,000 in youth development. We recognized the importance of literacy as a foundation for a successful life. Our work in early childhood literacy highlights the informative years leading up to 4th grade. Children learn to read through the 3rd grade - then they read to learn. Those that are not reading at grade level by the end of their 3rd grade year, face additional obstacles to success in the classroom and beyond.

The United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County has worked to develop a network of supporting programs that help our children find their imagination and the power of a literary mind. Communities In Schools works with children and families to overcome obstacles, succeed in the classroom, and reach graduation. The Salvation Army's Boys & Girls Club offers mentors and afterschool homework support for our youth at Sam Houston Elementary.  Our Scouting partners encourage youth to develop to their fullest potential, including educational and literacy goals. Our final partner is the YMCA with the Y Reads program, that began as a joint partnership with our United Way more than 10 years ago, with a goal to help children reach on grade level reading by 3rd grade. We continue to support these strong programs with history in our community, but continue to look for new opportunities to encourage our future leaders.

In 2019, the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County launched a new program to recognize young readers and encourage those just learning the joy of reading through our Super Reader Program. Each grading period, 1st grade students in participating schools are entered into a drawing for a $25 gift (backpack with books, puzzles, games and other literacy prizes). Students with 3 AR points for the grading period are entered into the drawing. At the end of the school year, on each campus, all students that have 15 points will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire that is preloaded with books for the summer months. As the initial program supporting literacy, Super Readers celebrates the success of students as they discover the worlds between the covers of books and prepare for a life that is richer with culture and filled with opportunities because of the joys of reading.

In 2022, the program expanded to add Book Vending Machines on each participating campus. Students from all grade levels can earn a token as they are recognized for their AR goals or being a good citizen and helping others. Tokens are used to "purchase" a book from the Book Vending Machine. At the end of the school year, we celebrate the power of literacy with our Summer Reading Palooza. In the Summer of 2022, each 1st grade student went home with a backpack filled with 5 books to continue their summer reading.

In 2023, four additional Book Vending Machines will be installed on campuses in Port Arthur. All elementary schools in the Port Arthur Independent School District have a United Way MSJC Book Vending Machine!

As of 2024, there are 14 Book Vending Machines on campuses in Port Arthur, Port Neches-Groves, Nederland, and Sabine Pass school districts.

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