Farmingdale, NJ – To help address the academic achievement gap in Monmouth County, United Way of Monmouth County has announced the funding of seven grants focused on early grade reading for the summer as part of the education component of its Community Impact Agenda. United Way of Monmouth County will invest $115,000 in high-quality summer programs serving students who are entering kindergarten through third grades in the Keansburg, Red Bank and Freehold Borough school districts.

“The goal of these programs is to help ensure that students are reading to learn – rather than still learning to read – by the end of third grade, which makes a great difference in their academic success,” says Timothy C. Hearne, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Monmouth County. “Studies show that children who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. We’ve found that children in lower income school districts in Monmouth County are at a particular disadvantage in terms of being on target with reading skills.”

In analyzing New Jersey Department of Education data, United Way of Monmouth County determined that 62.4% of fourth grade students in the lowest socioeconomic status school districts in Monmouth County are reading below grade level, compared to 20.5% of students in the highest socioeconomic districts. In general, it is estimated that the “summer slide” – in which children lose knowledge over the summer months – accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers.

All of the funded summer programs focus not only on learning, literacy and reading, but they also feature enrichment activities, such as arts, music, physical activity, nature and outside play. Six of the programs are student-focused, and one is a family literacy initiative that provides English language learning (ELL) and basic literacy to parents as well as books to seed home libraries. United Way of Monmouth County has developed strong relationships with the partnering school districts to enhance learning throughout the process.

The funded programs are being held in partnership with:

  • The Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County, Red Bank students
  • Collier Youth Services, Keansburg students
  • The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, Keansburg students
  • Horizons at the Rumson Country Day School, Red Bank students (student-focused program and family literacy program)
  • Monmouth Day Care Center, Red Bank students
  • YMCA of Western Monmouth County, Freehold students

For more information about early grade reading summer grants, please contact Christine Jagerburger at 848-206-2046 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To learn more about the United Way or its Community Impact agenda, please visit