Kate Bennett

Kate Bennett

Kate Bennett is the Community Impact Officer for Early Childhood & Education Success at United Way of Central Iowa.

Recent Posts

Oct 9, 2022

United Way of Central Iowa is a Pacesetter

United Way of Central Iowa has been recognized as a 2022 Pacesetter for our UNITED to THRIVE strategic imperative.

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Nov 8, 2020

TextSupport: Central Iowa Schools Provides School District Updates & Resources

United Way of Central Iowa Now Offers “TextSupport: Central Iowa Schools” Initiative to Provide Free School District Updates and Community Resources.

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Aug 4, 2020

Bright by Text Supports Local Families with Young Children

United Way of Central Iowa partners with Bright by Text to support at-home learning and provide access to credible resources for families with children prenatal to age eight during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

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May 14, 2020

Four Free Reading Resources for Kids at Home

Reading aloud to an early learner is an important way for them to build foundational literacy skills. Here are four free read-aloud resources that get children exposure to new books and let someone else do the reading for you.

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Sep 11, 2018

READ to SUCCEED makes gains in student achievement in two years

A community-wide effort to improve central Iowa students’ reading skills has recruited 500 reading mentors and launched several strategies that are showing success. United Way of Central Iowa announced the results of its READ to SUCCEED campaign at Willard Elementary School on September 11, 2018. 

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Apr 11, 2018

Central Iowa’s graduation rate increases to all-time high

The percentage of central Iowa students graduating high school within five years increased to an all-time high of 93.6 in 2016, from 92.8 percent in the prior year, according to data released by the Iowa Department of Education on April 11. The increase moves the region closer toward its Community Goal for 2020 to increase graduation rates to 95 percent and is up more than 10 percentage points over nine years.

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Nov 6, 2017

Central Iowa students need to see many paths to success

For many students, for many reasons, college may not be an option. Yet, many alternative paths exist that can lead to well-paying jobs and long-term financial stability. As stakeholders at businesses, schools, nonprofits, and the community, we have an opportunity to help all students understand their options and support them in taking the next step toward a better future.

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Nov 2, 2017

Remarkable reading results for 4-year-olds

As Book Buddy volunteers met their preschool reading partners over the past few weeks—the kids they will be working with throughout the school year—they were greeted with smiles and hugs.

They were also met with some gratifying new data that makes the hard work they are about to put in over the next six months all the more meaningful.

United Way of Central Iowa assesses the progress of Book Buddy students over the course of the year as they read twice weekly with volunteers.

During the 2016-17 school year, 74% of Book Buddy students showed growth on the literacy assessment.

Even more impressive, 60 percent of the kids showed mastery of or demonstrated strong reading and writing skills by the end of the year, despite the fact that kids in the Book Buddy centers start the school year with lower scores than kids at centers that don't have the Book Buddy program.

The most dramatic data point, however, demonstrates that this improvement is not just a blip for these kids, but a long-term sustained impact on their lives.

Three years later, in first grade, the Book Buddy students scored 10% higher than their Des Moines Public School peers who didn't participate in Book Buddy on the FAST assessment for reading readiness.

We are the Cycle-Breakers

Book Buddy volunteers, who spend 40 minutes a week reading with 4-year-olds and preparing them for kindergarten, can feel confident they are making an impact because the data backs it up.

Because of the volunteers' generosity, the children in the Book Buddy program are much more likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade. That makes them four times more likely to graduate from high school.

A high school graduate earns $700,000 more than a dropout during their lifetime and contributes to the overall economic health and development of central Iowa.

The kids don't know these numbers as they greet their Book Buddies will cheers and hugs each week. But they are grateful all the same.

Book Buddy is part of United Way of Central Iowa's READ to SUCCEED initiative to increase third-grade reading proficiency in central Iowa. Click below to learn more about how to get involved as a volunteer, parent or caregiver, or community member.

Learn More About  READ to SUCCEED


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Jun 21, 2017

Make Reading Together Part of Your Summer Fun

Whether you are picking up groceries, waiting at the doctor's office, cooking from a recipe, or hanging out at home, you have an opportunity to read with a child.

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Dec 7, 2016

Give Back with Books in 2016

As your holiday shopping wraps up, stop by Barnes & Noble in West Des Moines on December 8 or 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to purchase a gift for a child in need of books.

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