To celebrate “March is Reading Month,” members of United Way of Midland County’s Young Leaders United teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region to read with second-grade students at Central Park Elementary on Wednesday, March 8th. Over 100 Young Leaders and community volunteers were paired with 100 students to help instill a love of reading and improve literacy skills.

“It was so fun to have so many volunteers in our school to read with our students,” shared Kara Stark, Principal at Central Park Elementary. “The kids really enjoyed getting to connect with caring adults, and reading a new book! We appreciate United Way bringing this event to our school and look forward to partnering with them in the future, too!”

Under their Youth Success pillar, an issue area United Way focuses on is Reading at Grade Level. In Midland County, 45% of third-grade students are not reading at grade level and they are 75% more likely to not graduate from high school if they don’t catch up. In collaboration with their partner agencies and schools, United Way is striving to change those statistics. Through this Young Leaders United project, their volunteers impacted United Way’s goal of ensuring students are reading proficiently by third grade while also offering each student a positive adult mentor to connect with during the event.

Thanks to their event sponsor, Members First Credit Union, volunteers and students enjoyed a pizza lunch and every student got to take home their own copy of After the Fall by Dan Santat. This inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme will encourage students to overcome their fears, learn to get back up and reach new heights.

“March is Reading Month is one of my favorite Young Leader events,” shared Katie Bell Pearce, Corporate Relationship Manager at United Way of Midland County. “It’s incredible to see the kids connect with the caring adults sharing stories and laughs, chatting about their day and diving into a new book together. Beyond teaching and instilling a love of reading, we hope that the student’s and volunteer’s days were brightened by time spent together.”


Young Leaders United is a group of young professionals dedicated to volunteerism and philanthropy. Members are compassionate and generous individuals and couples committed to change in our community by giving, advocating and volunteering.

The YLU Executive Council consists of members from many organizations throughout Midland including Dow, Corteva, MyMichgian Health, Trinseo, Members First Credit Union, Three Rivers Corporation, Sym Financial, Northwood University, PWC, Jolt Credit Union and The Rock Center for Youth Development.

Each year, the Executive Council plans lunch and learns, volunteer events and socials to engage the full group in learning about community issues and providing opportunities to make a direct impact in Midland County.

“The Council is excited about the engagement opportunities we’re hoping to offer this year,” shared Pearce. “We’re exploring new issue areas and finding new ways to connect people with educational events and volunteer initiatives. I’m very grateful for the time and energy this group pours into creating meaningful opportunities and am looking forward to the events coming up later this year.”

March is Reading Month was Young Leaders United’s first event for the year, but they have others planned including United Way’s Maid for this Moment Deep Dive Luncheon focused on Childcare and Job Skills on April 24th, volunteering with Days of Action and much more.

To learn more about Young Leaders United, their upcoming events or to get involved, reach out to Katie Bell Pearce at or visit