**Colts, United Way are Asking Fans to Give the Gift of Reading to Indianapolis Students
* INDIANAPOLIS – As the Colts prepare to kick off their 2009 season this weekend, they are teaming up with United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) to kick off another important initiative in the Indianapolis community. Beginning today through the end of September, the Colts and UWCI are offering a special edition Colts duffel bag to the first 400 adults who sign up to be ReadUP volunteers for the 2009-10 school year.*
The ReadUP program was started by UWCI in 2007 to provide one-on-one tutoring for 4th grade IPS students who are reading below their current grade level. By volunteering to tutor a student for just one hour each week, Hoosiers can forever impact the life of a child and help them improve their reading comprehension skills.
"The effort is part of United Way's response to the fact that among the nation's 50 largest cities, Indianapolis ranks lowest in high school graduation rates, lower than Detroit and Cleveland," said Ellen K. Annala, UWCI's president and CEO.
"How can we graduate more IPS students? In a word, the answer is reading," said Annala. "Fourth-grade students reading at grade level are most likely to stay on track to graduate. We're simply looking for caring adults to help make that happen," she added.
Individuals interested in volunteering can sign up online at www.readupindy.org or by visiting the UWCI booth at the 8th Annual Community Fair on Friday, September 11, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. There are currently more than 700 ReadUP volunteer spots that UWCI is hoping to fill by early October when tutoring sessions start at IPS schools. The Colts are encouraging their fans to help fulfill this need and make a difference in Central Indiana.
"Literacy is an integral part of our outreach efforts, and we believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give a child is the gift of reading." said Stephanie Mathes, Community Relations Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. "As a part of our Blue Ribbon Literacy Campaign and Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers initiative, we are joining with our long-standing partners at United Way to engage our fans in making a difference by serving as a ReadUP volunteer."
Each ReadUP volunteer is required to complete a volunteer orientation prior to tutoring. To receive the limited edition Colts duffel bag, volunteers must be one of the first 400 adults to sign up to volunteer between September 9 and September 30. They will receive their duffel bag upon completion of volunteer orientation. For more information on ReadUP and UWCI, visit www.uwci.org. To learn more about all of the Colts outreach efforts this season, log onto www.colts.com/community.