Rockford Rivets and United Way Collaborate for Reading Program

The Rockford Rivets and United Way of Rock River Valley (UWRRV) today announced the launch of the Lil’ Rivets Reading Club, a first-of-its-kind community-focused reading program aimed at combating youth illiteracy in Winnebago County.

“Lil’ Rivets, with United Way’s guidance, is meeting an urgent community-wide need: only 1 in 3 students in third grade are reading at grade level in Winnebago County,” said Todd Kolosso, owner of the Rockford Rivets. “That metric is a primary indicator for high school graduation. Students who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school.”

“The Lil’ Rivets Reading Club was established to provide a platform for students to cultivate a passion for reading by setting achievable reading targets and tracking their progress throughout the program,” said Hanna Snedecor, director of community affairs and promotions, who spearheaded its creation at The Rockford Rivets. “This unique blend of literacy promotion and baseball excitement inspires children to embrace reading while enjoying a memorable outing with their families.”

“Participation in the Lil’ Rivets Reading Club comes with two complimentary tickets to experience the thrill of a Rivets game firsthand during one of the first six games of the 2024 season. This enables families to enjoy a baseball game without financial strain while celebrating their child’s academic achievements,” Snedecor said. “We are elated The Rockford Rivets responded to our call to action to improve child literacy in Winnebago County,” said Mark Baldwin, board chair of UWRRV. “The Lil’ Rivets Reading Club is a fun and new way to encourage reading development in our young students. When our children succeed, our community thrives.”

“We began talking with the Rivets last fall and were so encouraged by their desire to focus on literacy and the creation of this reading program,” said Julie Bosma, president and CEO of UWRRV. “United Way seeks partners like them, those who truly want to make a difference in the community and see it as a privilege to work together. Our literacy crisis requires the whole community to work together, and the Rivets understand this need and have stepped up in a big way. And by allowing us to be present at any home game, we can bring all of our United for Literacy partners, which again just shows the strength of working together.”

This year, the Lil’ Rivets Reading Club had more than 9,000 students enrolled from six public school districts and five private schools. The program’s inclusive nature ensures that children of all ages and backgrounds can participate, fostering a sense of community and belonging. By harnessing the excitement of baseball and the joy of reading, the Lil’ Rivets Reading Club empowers the next generation, paving the way for a brighter future for Winnebago County.