United Way's Race to Read Program a Huge Success

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United Way's Race to Read Program a Huge Success


Date: 3/3/23

Contact: Hanna Glissendorf, Director of Black Hills Reads

Email: hanna@unitedwayblackhills.org

Phone: (605) 343-5872

Rapid City, S.D. — The United Way of the Black Hills is pleased to announce the final numbers of a seven week long program put on by its Black Hills Reads initiative. Starting on Jan. 9 and ending on March 2, Race to Read challenged readers, young and old, to record how many books they read. For every 25 books completed, a fictional car drove one mile on a road trip across South Dakota. With a whopping 1,982 readers participating during the challenge’s last week, the imaginary road-tripping car was able to put some serious miles behind it.

Week 7 Final Results Map for the Race to Read Challenge showing the book mobile traveling all the way around SD.
Map showing the final results of the 2023 Race to Read Challenge. 

Hanna Glissendorf, the Director of Black Hills Reads, broke down the final numbers: “Our grand total is 58,750 books read statewide! Everyone read so many books that we ‘drove’ 2,350 miles around South Dakota and made it back to Rapid City.” 

To get readers excited about participating in the “road trip,” Black Hills Reads offered mini-grants to organizations for hosting kick-off and celebration events. “Black Hills Reads gave out a total of seven mini-grants for community organizations to host their own Race to Read events totaling $1,950,” Glissendorf reported. These organizations included Belle Fourche Elementary Schools, TREC: Badlands Head Start, Custer YMCA, Sturgis Public Library, Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library in Lead, Girls Inc. and a teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary.

Karen Schlekeway, the Belle Fourche School District Librarian, organized the reading efforts at her schools including a “Rockin' Bronc Reading Rally,” on the last day. She said, “I understand the importance of encouraging proficient readers. Students become better readers when they read. When I became aware of this reading challenge, I thought we'd better give it a try. All the classroom teachers in South Park and North Park Elementary school in Belle Fourche took up the challenge and have been logging books that students read during their school day.”

The United Way of the Black Hills started Black Hills Reads to address one of the most pressing needs in the Black Hills: access to quality early childhood education. “The goal is to help children reach grade level reading by third grade. Research has shown that an early foundation in literacy is a pretty accurate indicator of life success in people. When children are able to reach their appropriate reading level by third grade, they typically stay proficient in literacy throughout school,” Glissendorf explained. She went on to say that she’s excited for the future of Black Hills Reads. This initiative of the United Way of the Black Hills has big plans to get the kids of the Black Hills reading.