The entire education continuum, from birth through 21, must be in our collective cross hairs if we want to move the needle on high school graduation. The economic impact of high school dropouts is something that can’t be ignored. Educated workers are far less likely to become dependent on public money and health services, they are also likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.

Getting ahead of these challenges requires an early start, so we’re focusing on childhood literacy and the provision of learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.


Newark Thrives! is an intermediary out-of-school time (OST) network with the vision to engage every child in high-quality out-of-school time (OST) experiences so they will grow, develop, and thrive. Newark Thrives! mission is to improve access and participation in high-quality OST opportunities for Newark youth by leveraging resources, convening stakeholders, and empowering young people, families, and educators.

As a collaborative, Newark Thrives! works closely with cross-sector community partners to promote OST city-wide through:

  • safe and healthy learning environments,
  • positive relationships with peers and adults,
  • a wide variety of opportunities for youth to explore and develop  
  • increasing twenty-first century skillsets

For more information, visit Newark Thrives! website.


United Way of Greater Newark University of Chicago’s My Very Own Library program is a PreK – 8 literacy initiative that focuses on bolstering literacy and fostering a love of reading by empowering students to build their very own home libraries. MVOL is rooted in research indicating that students foster a life-long love of reading and demonstrate stronger literacy skills as they build home libraries.

The following components are key factors in the effective My Very Own Library program model: Book fair events, free books, family engagement, author visits, and additional literacy resources.

MVOL has given away more than one million books and is currently in 36 public elementary schools in Newark, NJ.


Celebrity Read is a long-standing literacy initiative created by United Way of Greater Newark in 1990, with a primary goal of recruiting volunteers to model their love for reading from pre-k to 4th grade elementary classrooms in its service area. In recognition of the program’s unique service to the community, it has been designated as a “Local Legacy” by the Library of Congress in 2001.

United Way believes that everyone can be a “celebrity” in the life of a child and by volunteering time to read to children at participating schools during the month of February. If you are part of a company/organization, we welcome you to adopt a school by recruiting a minimum of 10 volunteers from your workplace to represent you at a school.