Mind the Gap

Written by: Alicia Quinn Kitagawa, VP of New Business Development

Kids start out with big dreams for when they grow up. Reading is crucial for children to reach their goals of becoming future astronauts, veterinarians, doctors, firefighters, video game developers, and pilots. 

For many kids, those dreams slip away. Not just because they become more practical or “grow up”, but because of disparities in education and lack of family stability that hold them back. 

Access to books and not reading at grade level are big reasons why dreams slip away for children. We know that kids who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 45% of San Diego County’s third graders were not reading at grade level – and that was before school closures and virtual learning exacerbated inequitable access to high-quality learning opportunities.

The past two years have magnified the grave educational and economic disparities that exist, and widened the gap for those experiencing those disparities. During the throes of the pandemic, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) released its strategic plan, “Mind the Gap: EDICT 2030”, dedicating the organization’s work to closing that gap and igniting the possibilities for our region’s future. 

UWSD knows that no one organization can do this work alone. United with community partners and donors, they are reimagining and rebuilding a community in which all San Diegans, especially those facing the widest gaps, have the opportunity to succeed and thrive.

This spring, UWSD is launching two initiatives for community members to join in addressing these inequities and finding solutions. 

Throughout the month of March, the organization is hosting a countywide book drive to celebrate Read Across America. With a goal of donating 1,000 books to local students, UWSD offers multiple ways to get involved. You can purchase a book online or in-store with one of our partners, Warwick’s in La Jolla and Libelula in Barrio Logan. You can also drop off a new book at UWSD’s offices in Kearny Mesa. Finally, you can make a financial contribution to support UWSD’s work in addressing inequities in our community and closing the gaps in education, literacy, and family stability. Visit uwsd.org/read to get involved!

In addition, UWSD, in partnership with the Council on Literacy, is thrilled to announce the launch of a brand-new podcast called The Gap Minders! Hosted by Nancy L. Sasaki, UWSD CEO, and Jose Cruz, Council on Literacy CEO, weekly episodes will feature a range of notable and engaging guests, including education experts, political figures dedicated to improving our region, and influential changemakers passionate about equity for all children and families. Tune in to The Gap Minders wherever you listen to podcasts!  

United, we can mind the gaps and address inequities so all children and families in San Diego can make their dreams come true. To get involved with UWSD, visit uwsd.org.