United Through Reading

Reading Together Unites Military Families

San Diego, CA   |  http://www.unitedthroughreading.org

Mission

Together, we unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud. From more than 200 locations at any given time in the U.S., on overseas military installations, and on Navy and Coast Guard vessels as well as via the United Through Reading App, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to their children at home. Once recorded, the videos and books are provided to the family at home to enjoy over and over again. UTR recordings build emotional connections between military parents and their children, reduce the anxiety associated with family separations, and bolster the literacy development of military children, an emotionally and academically at-risk population.

Notes from the nonprofit

United Through Reading (UTR) was honored to receive the inaugural Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Community Service Hero Award for innovative response to a critical need in the armed forces community and exceptional impact on military families. UTR has also received the Library of Congress Literacy Program American Prize for outstanding contributions to children's literacy and parents' involvement in literacy. In addition, the National Book Foundation awarded United Through Reading their Innovations in Reading Prize to UTR for keeping military families reading aloud together even during periods of physical separation.

Ruling year info

1995

Chief Executive Officer

Sally Ann Zoll Ed.D.

Main address

1455 Frazee Rd, Suite 500

San Diego, CA 92108 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Family Literacy Foundation

EIN

33-0373000

NTEE code info

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

Military/Veterans' Organizations (W30)

Personal Social Services (P50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Military members and their families experience a wide range of service-connected separations, including deployments, training commitments, and irregular work hours. These factors and increased military operations since the events of 9/11 mean service members and their families are under constant stress. This continuous cycle of upheaval can lead to increased anxiety, behavioral problems, and academic difficulties for military children. The cumulative effects contribute to a reduction in military family READiness. Every member of the military family is impacted during times of separation. United Through Reading is designed to bolster military family readiness for any period of service-connected separation by maintaining essential family bonds through storytime. This simple and profound connection promotes military family wellness by increasing morale and reducing stress for all program participants while fostering military children's educational development.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

United Through Reading

The United Through Reading connection begins when a military member is video-recorded reading books for the children in his or her life. UTR Story Stations [video-recording sites] are located in deployed military units, on installations throughout the US and overseas, at military family-focused events throughout the nation, and anytime, anywhere through the use of the free United Through Reading App. Once video-recordings are made, they and the books are provided to the children. Our program comes to life in homes across the nation and on military installations overseas when children see the face and hear the voice of their beloved service member reading a story, and speaking just to them. It feels like they're together again. And for that moment they are together. Children can enjoy the stories over and over, maintaining critical family bonds during periods of physical separation while developing literacy skills, foundational to all learning.

Population(s) Served
Families
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation 2006

Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management

Four-star rating 2008

Charity Navigator

Four-star rating 2009

Charity Navigator

Achievement Award for helping military families 2010

San Diego Military Advisory Council

Kaleidoscope Award for Exceptional Governance 2010

University of San Diego, Institute for Nonprofit Education & Research

Four-star rating 2010

Charity Navigator

Innovations in Reading 2010

National Book Foundation

Four- star rating 2011

Charity Navigator

Member 2011

The White House's Joining Forces initiative to increase support for military service members and their families

American Prize 2015

Library of Congress

Community Service Hero Award 2016

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Best Literacy/Reading Solution 2018

The 2018 EdTech Awards

List of Top-Rated Charities Serving Military Members and Their Families 2018

Charity Navigator

List of Top-Rated Charities Serving Military Members and Their Families 2019

Charity Navigator

Four-Star Rating 2020

Charity Navigator

Four-Star Rating 2021

Charity Navigator

Best New Product or Service [United Through Reading App] 2021

The 2021 EdTech Awards

Best New Product or Service [United Through Reading Mobile Story Station] 2020

The 2020 EdTech Awards

20 Nonprofit Champions of the Year 2020

Military Spouse Magazine

Read for the Record Bringing the Story to Life Award 2020

Jumpstart

Affiliations & memberships

The White House's Joining Forces Member 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Military Commands and Military/Veteran Service Organizations Engaged

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Military personnel, Veterans

Related Program

United Through Reading

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number may fluctuate wiht deployment cycles.

Books Read Via United Through Reading Story Stations at Military Units and Facilities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Military personnel, Veterans

Related Program

United Through Reading

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

COVID-19 public health and military guidelines impacted our ability to provide services at some of our Story Stations in 2020. Demand remained high in our Story Stations embedded in deployed units.

Books Read Via United Through Reading Story Station Events

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Military personnel, Veterans

Related Program

United Through Reading

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

2019 was the first year we focused on event-based services. Public health guidelines limited services at events. We pivoted to virtual and drive-through events, providing free books and App info.

Books Read Via the United Through Reading App

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Military personnel, Veterans

Related Program

United Through Reading

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We launched the United Through Reading App in 2019. App-based services grew significantly in 2020.

Number of books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Military personnel, Veterans

Related Program

United Through Reading

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We distributed free books with recordings at our Story Stations and through the UTR App. We also provided free books through virtual and drive-through events along with App-based services collateral.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

United Through Reading (UTR) strives continuously to provide:
- access to the program for military members of all service branches regardless of rank or duty status and no matter where their duty takes them
- access to services for Veterans and their families where ever they may live
- free children's books to promote read-aloud routines in military households
- video-recorded stories from service members to beloved children so they can share storytime despite physical separation
• this essential military family support program to military members who are serving in logistically challenging environments in a cost-efficient manner

United Through Reading focuses on these goals:
1. Ease the stress of separation for military members, children, and their caregivers (typically military spouses)
2. Boost morale for all participating family members
3. Strengthen family connections during times of separation
3. Support literacy development in an at-risk population of children. Military children are considered emotionally and academically at-risk due to the stress caused by repeated military duty-related family separations and academic disruptions caused by frequent military relocation. The COVID-19 environment compounds these risk factors.

United Through Reading’s program delivery is embedded in the military community, multimodal, mobile, and can reach military members wherever they serve
• Our Story Stations [video-recording sites] are embedded in military units to provide recordings for use during the frequent changes in military duty schedules and are mobile enough to deploy with units
• United Through Reading (UTR) program partners provide video-recordings for service members and veterans in venues and at events where military families seek services
• The San Diego Mobile Story Station, a mobile video-recording studio and outreach platform, makes stops throughout San Diego County providing access to services where the military community lives, works, and plays.
• UTR Pop Up Story Stations provides UTR services to geographically dispersed military units throughout the United States as well as at military family-focused events
• The United Through Reading App provides safe and secure program access anytime, anywhere

United Through Reading (UTR) has been solely focused on providing the read-aloud experience for more than 30 years! UTR Program Managers are assigned to specific Military Branches of Service, and our Program Assistants concentrate on delivering services in specific geographic locations or for special populations. They are tasked with expanding program access within their areas of responsibility and build alliances and partnerships which meet the unique needs of service members within their assigned branches, locations, or populations. The United Through Reading App is available for use by military members and veterans who may not have access to one of our physical Story Stations. Our ability to provide multiple program access points allows United Through Reading to support military members and veterans in ways that work for the entire military community, even during a pandemic!

More than 2.4 million military members, veterans, caregivers (typically spouses), and children have benefitted from United Through Reading (UTR) since our founding in 1989. UTR is available in more than 200 locations worldwide and through the United Through Reading App.

Independent research was conducted in 2019 on the impact of program participation. Research participants reported the many benefits of participating in United Through Reading.
100% indicated that United Through Reading improved their family’s morale during times of separation.
100% of military members reported the program improved their personal morale
100% reported that children, regardless of age, enjoyed watching the UTR video recordings
100% reported that children who were old enough to do so asked to watch their UTR recordings
98% reported that United Through Reading is a critical family readiness and resiliency tool
97% of caregivers reported participating in the program improved their personal morale
97% of families reported having UTR recordings made their deployments or separations easier
95% of families felt that UTR reduced stress and anxiety in their child(ren)
93% reported program participation strengthened family bonds
90% reported that children’s love of reading increased since receiving and watching the UTR video-recordings
88% felt their children’s behavior was improved after participating in the program.
88% reported program participation increased family connectedness
86% of caregivers felt that UTR reduced caregiver stress
84% reported their children’s language and literacy skills improving since watching their UTR recordings
83% of military members reported stress reduction through making UTR recordings
83% reported UTR benefited families by keeping the military member as part of the family routine
80% reported their children’s overall academic development/performance improved after participating in the UTR program
72% of families felt that UTR helped their child recognize their military parent when they returned home
71% of participants reported the program positively impacted their child(ren)’s interest in STEM Topics.
70% of military members reported use of the program as a benefit to their personal readiness
69% of the families used their video recordings multiple times a week

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have widened the selection of books to be inclusive of children of all ages.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome,

Financials

United Through Reading
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

United Through Reading

Board of directors
as of 10/27/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Brian Roehrkasse

VP Communications, Facebook

Term: 2020 - 2021

CMSgt Denise Jelinsi-Hall, USAF/ANG (Ret)

3rd Senior Enlisted Advisor National Guard Bureau

Sean McHugh

Carter's Inc.

Michael Barbero

USA (Ret)

Rebecca Hall, CFP, AMA, ChFC, CASL

RBH Global Wealth Parnters, An Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory Practice

Dwayne Junker, USN (Ret)

Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc.

Jeff Mader

Sun Country Airlines

Anne Murphy

GreatCall, Inc.

Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, USAF (Ret)

PredaSAR

Charles Van Vechten

ESET North America

VADM Jim Zortman, USN (Ret)

Northrop Grumman Corp. (Ret)

Sally Zoll, Ed.D.

United Through Reading

Cynthia Curiel

Northrop Grumman

Michael McBride

BAE Systems, Inc.

C.J. Mitchell, Ph.D.

15th Force Master Chief of Navy Reserve (Ret), Amazon

Tina Swallow, USN (Ret)

Cisco Systems

Emily Arnett

Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Jennie Brooks

Northrop Grumman

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/24/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/21/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.