United Way asks volunteers to support local elementary students on first day of school

More than 350 volunteers needed for Kindergarten Kick-Off

United Way of Southwestern PA, in partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools, will host its annual Kindergarten Kick-Off events to help ease the transition to kindergarten for local students and promote positive school attendance habits. United Way hopes to secure more than 350 volunteers to cheer on students at 16 Pittsburgh Public Schools the morning of September 1.

Kindergarten Kick-Off welcomes local leaders and members of the community to gather and celebrate the start of the school year, welcome young learners and encourage positive school attendance habits.

“That very first day of school can be very scary and overwhelming for a kindergartner,” said Lois Mufuka Martin, United Way’s Chief Volunteer Engagement Officer. “Our volunteers help make that morning exciting and ease some of the stress students might be feeling by cheering them on and encouraging them as they walk into school for the first time.” 

Nationwide, teachers report nearly half of children struggle with the transition to kindergarten. A recent study showed 83% of chronically absent children in kindergarten and first grade were behind in reading at grade three. Chronic absence is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year or 18 days.

“Kindergarten is the gateway to a future of school preparedness and academic success,” said Shauna McMillan, United Way’s manager of programs for children and youth. “The kick-off helps local kindergartners get off to a strong academic start by making school seem less intimidating and placing an emphasis on the importance of showing up to school every day.”

United Way makes Kindergarten Kick-Off an integral part of both its Be There and Hi5! initiatives, which promote positive school attendance and kindergarten readiness respectively. Details on volunteering available at http://bit.ly/KindergartenKickoffsUW. 

About United Way of Southwestern PA – United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, serving Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette and Southern Armstrong counties, leads and mobilizes the caring power of individuals, the business community and organizations to help local people in need measurably improve their lives. United Way creates long-lasting change for the betterment of our community.