Our United Way just launched a pilot program focused on improving child literacy rates

Every student needs a co-pilot when learning to read and our United Way is ready to help. 

It's our pleasure to share exciting news regarding one of our initiatives. Thanks to a generous grant from Wells Fargo that partially funds our Grade Level Reading Initiative (GLR), United Way began piloting Vello. Vello is a new GLR strategy and program aimed at helping local children improve their literacy skills. Through a strong partnership with El Paso ISD and San Elizario ISD, 35 need-based children will have the unique opportunity to participate in one-on-one virtual tutoring. 

Keep reading to learn more about this 21st Century Online Tutoring program. 


Vello is a one-on-one tutoring program for students and volunteer tutors to read books from a virtual library that helps improve a child's reading ability. Vello promotes a strong start in reading for students in kindergarten through third grade. It allows local professionals to volunteer for a quick half-hour from anywhere and from any device. The program provides an entire classroom with a custom programmed and secured reading station that is aligned to classroom curriculum and state standards. 


United Way's vision for Vello is to ensure all El Paso students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade and beyond through the support of a caring community of volunteers. Third grade poses a key literacy milestone and serves as a key indicator in the future success in a student's academic career. Together, United Way and community partners can ensure all students that need extra one-on-one reading support have a co-pilot. 


Research proves that one-on-one reading with a caring adult helps students read at grade level and feel more connected to school and learning. Additionally, Vello provides a platform to convene community volunteers, teachers, administrators, parents and students. 

In January 2017, United Way launched a national Vello Pilot Program with the goal of increasing tutoring access to students during a critical time in their learning and developmental success. Here's what we learned from the national pilot: 

  • 86 percent of participating teachers "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that vellow improved the reading skills of the tutored students. 
  • 79 percent of teachers "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that Vello improved class wide engagement 
  • 86 percent of parents responded that Vello improved reading engagement at home 
  • 79 percent of volunteers responded that the experience improved their volunteer efficacy
  • Tutored students in Vello had a Mean Benchmark growth rate of 71.16 percent compared to non-tutored students (comparison variable) who grew at a rate of 67.48 percent. 

As we pilot the program in our own community, our United Way looks forward to sharing the results of this collaborative work focused on enhancing a child's reading skills. Please stay tuned for more updates.

Want to get involved? Please contact Stephanie Gorman at (915) 533-2434 ext. 228.