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From The Desk of Yolanda McCray - June 2024

Updated: Jul 15

Happy Summer! Can you believe that we are almost halfway through 2024? At Black River United Way, summer is one of our favorite seasons. With the school year concluded, we are able to fully see the impact of our Mission: Read programs in local elementary schools. As you’ll see in our School Year Impact Report, 2023 - 2024 was a GREAT year for early-grade reading success. 220 students were served through literacy tutoring, with 99.5% showing improved academic performance in literacy! Wow!

In addition to knowing our impact from the previous school year, during the summer our team is especially focused on promoting Kindergarten Readiness and preventing summer academic learning loss through our KinderWaves and Summer SAIL programs.

KinderWaves, BRUW’s Kindergarten transition camp took place last week (June 10th-13th), with 42 students across six sites in our community participating. Through the theme of an oceanic safari, KinderWaves introduced local pre-K students to a love of reading, structured classroom settings, science & mathematical thinking, hands-on learning activities, and relationship building. It’s been a wonderful week of learning and growth for our budding students. 

I want to give a special thanks to our partners - Georgetown County School District and Tidelands Health - for their generous funding and support of KinderWaves, and to our school administrators, teachers, and volunteers for their efforts to improve Kindergarten Readiness in our community by preparing our rising Kindergarteners for elementary school. 

We are also partnering with Brown’s Ferry Outreach this summer for Summer SAIL- a 4-week summer enrichment program that aims to prevent the “summer slide” and increase literacy rates in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties. Summer SAIL is well underway, mobilizing local teachers and BRUW AmeriCorps members to support early grade literacy. Summer SAIL is from June 4th - June 21st and we have 32 students enrolled in the program!

Another thing we LOVE about summer is the opportunity to plan for next year’s programming. We have some VERY exciting plans in the works - namely, the launch of a new program, Heroes For Literacy, and the introduction of a new fundraising event - Pickle For Progress, a Pickleball Tournament Festival & Fundraiser! 

Through our new Heroes For Literacy initiative, local community members will have the opportunity to become an everyday hero in the literacy development of a child. ‘Heroes’ will volunteer 1.5 hours each week for nine weeks to tutor children in reading at a local elementary school. Along the way, our ‘heroes’ will unlock their own leadership potential, join a prestigious group of like-minded individuals, strengthen our community, and make a lasting impact in helping children develop the foundational skills they need to succeed in school and life. Heroes For Literacy will launch this fall and will continue each quarter throughout the 2024 - 2025 school year. Interested in becoming a hero? We need you! Visit our Heroes For Literacy webpage to learn more.

Another exciting BRUW development is our new Pickle For Progress Pickleball Tournament Festival & Fundraiser on Saturday, September 28th at East Bay Park. Pickle For Progress combines the fun, camaraderie, and wellness associated with the sport of pickleball to raise support for Black River United Way's mission and two main initiatives - early childhood success and disaster resiliency. Whether you’re a pickleball pro or haven’t hit a ball since gym glass in the third grade, this fun event will have something for everyone! Check out our event page, Pickle For Progress, for more information.

Nothing could be more exciting than the launch of new efforts to advance BRUW’s mission -leading Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties to sustainability by empowering the lives of its community members. As our team enters this exciting season of celebrating the impact of the past year and planning for the next, we are especially grateful for your partnership. Whether you give, volunteer, or advocate, you play a role in helping our community members have the resources they need to thrive. Thank you for your support of Black River United Way and its initiatives to ensure early childhood success and disaster resiliency in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties. We can’t wait to see the impact we are able to make together in 2024-2025!

Your President & CEO,

Yolanda McCray

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