Iowa Reading Corps

United Way of Story County brings opportunity to struggling readers through Iowa Reading Corps. This evidence-based program is held in partnership with local school districts and is modeled after the successful  Minnesota Reading Corps. AmeriCorps members are delivering research-based tutoring and literacy interventions to struggling readers in kindergarten through 3rd grade at many of our local elementary schools.


How Iowa Reading Corps Works

Research shows that after third grade, students start reading to learn rather than learning to read. We have a narrow window to help get kids the great start they need to succeed during their academic career and beyond. United Way funds parent training programs to help parents learn how to be their kids’ first teachers, programs that get books into homes to build a love of reading, and other kindergarten readiness strategies.  Iowa Reading Corps can help catch kids up if they are showing signs of struggling once they are school-aged. As a local United Way network in Iowa, we are working together to partner with schools and maximize opportunities for communities to access evidence-based reading initiatives that will support the tremendous work of educators in our state.  

Iowa Reading Corps is a statewide initiative to help ensure that all Iowa students are on track to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. The program places AmeriCorps members, trained as Elementary Literacy Tutors, at sites across Iowa to implement prescribed literacy interventions for students who are just below proficiency in reading. Each day, members meet individually with students to conduct 20-minute tutoring sessions that focus on building students’ skills in phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency. Based upon current educational research and best practices, the tutoring sessions follow a Response to Intervention (RtI) model. During the summer months, Iowa Reading Corps members partner with their local United Way to provide literacy programming for summer feeding programs, participate in summer tutoring programs, and/or coordinate children's summer reading programs at local libraries. 

In partnership with local United Ways and school districts across the state, the Iowa Reading Corps AmeriCorps program launched in the fall of 2013. The program has grown to 71 members serving in 61 Iowa elementary schools during the 2018-19 school year. During 2019-20, we anticipate 75 members will serve in 65 schools across Iowa.




“Because they are confident readers today, they will be confident speakers tomorrow. Confident scientists, confident teachers, confident writers, confident innovators, and confident leaders. Because they can read, they can succeed. Reading Corps helps to make that happen.” – Sarina, Iowa Reading Corps member