• Reading Changes Lives

    An inspiring all-church initiative of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries.


Reading Changes Lives

Reading Changes Lives, a United Church of Christ all-church initiative, is our denomination’s response to the crippling literacy gap in the United States and around the world. Through this year-long effort individuals, congregations, and communities are learning about and taking action steps to address this persistent injustice.

In the U.S. 1 in 5 adults lack reading skills beyond a fourth grade level. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians, that we are all part of one body through Christ. When any member of our community suffers, we all suffer. If any among us is kept from achieving their full God-given potential, it is to the detriment of us all. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

The inability to read restricts a person’s capacity to fully participate in our common life. Illiteracy contributes to the cycle of poverty by keeping people from full and fulfilling employment; it underlies our system of mass incarceration and feeds the school-to-prison pipeline; and it restricts the ability of members of our communities and congregations to fully exercise their rights and advocate for themselves and their families.

Engage 3 Ways

How can you join the fight to end illiteracy locally, nationally and globally? Join us as we Engage 3 Ways,” through a three-part service project April 14 - June 28, 2015.

Together we can support organizations that engage in the life changing work of teaching children and adults how to read. School systems and literacy programs are on the cutting edge of efforts to address literacy. We invite you, your congregation, your community and businesses to help supply resources to organizations that provide free access to reading programs.

Three ways to engage:

1 - Supply Drive

Congregations, civic groups and businesses can become champions within their communities by organizing school supply drives. Once collected, these items may be donated to help local school and literacy programs thrive. Learn More.

2 - Stuff the Pack

General Synod 30 registrants are invited to come with an open heart to stuff backpacks with needed school supplies for Cleveland’s elementary-age children in need. These backpacks will benefit the Cleveland Metropolitan School System. Reading Changes Lives community partner, University Settlement, will facilitate this project. Learn More.

3 - School Supplies for Cairo

Donate to Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services(CEOSS), the United Church of Christ’s long-time partner in Cairo, Egypt. . Donations will help to provide school supplies for children in need in Cairo. Learn More.

Supply Drive

During the 2013-2014 school year U.S. teachers spent an average of $513 out-of-pocket on school supplies. Each year school systems distribute lists of needed supplies to parents, a cost which many households cannot absorb. Without these basic supplies, educators are unable to teach specified curriculum. The learning process is interrupted, especially for elementary students, who develop essential early reading skills in kindergarten through the sixth grade.

While advocates are working to address the systemic policy and budgetary challenges faced by our public education system, the immediate needs of students have never been greater. The UCC Supply Drive makes it easy for you to champion a school supply drive in your community and donate.

Follow these simple steps to plan a successful school supply drive:

  1. RECRUIT a team of friends, family, members of your congregation, and co-workers.
  2. CONNECT with your local school system or literacy program. Inquire about supplies that are needed and where supplies should be dropped off.
  3. PROMOTE your event. Spread the word through email blasts, social media sites, local papers, church bulletins and company newsletters. Include a list of school supply items as requested by the school system or literacy program.
  4. DETERMINE drop off location(s) and container. A sturdy box in a convenient location such as church, work, recreation center etc., accompanied by a decorated sign, will make it easy for people to participate.
  5. COLLECT supplies. Once complete, sort and bundle for drop off.
  6. T6. REPORT BACK – Let us know how the Supply Drive went! Post pictures on Twitter, Instagram, etc. using #UCCforLiteracy

1 & 2 http://www.forbes.com/sites/nicoleleinbachreyhle/2014/08/19/teachers-spend-own-money-school-supplies/

Stuff the Pack

General Synod 2015 Service Project

In order to succeed in school, students need basic supplies to support their learning. For children in need, even inexpensive items may be out of reach.

Our UCC service project at General Synod 30 will be a “Stuff the Pack” event. All Synod registrants are invited to participate in the assembly of 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies for elementary age students. The packs will be donated to our partner, University Settlement, a nonprofit social service agency that has been serving city of Cleveland since 1926. University Settlement will distribute the backpacks during their “Back to School Resource Fair,” an annual event where they give away close to 3,000 back packs to children in the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Participants are encouraged to bring a school supplies for inclusion in additional backpacks for University Settlement’s Back to School Resource Fair. Download the list of requested school supplies.

Download the list of requested school supplies.

Stuff the Pack dates and times at General Synod:

Friday, June 26, 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Sunday, June 28, 2015

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
9:00 am – 11:00 am

School Supplies for Cairo

The progress of countries and communities depends on educated and trained individuals. In Cairo, Egypt, more than 16 million people over the age of 10 are illiterate, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Of those approximately 10.3 million are women.

To address this critical issue, Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), our global missions partner in Cairo, created a program to promote literacy for women and girls. In their first session, CEOSS enrolled more than 61,000 individuals in literacy classes and 37,000 students passed their final exams at the end of the classes.

“School Supplies for Cairo” will support these efforts by raising funds to meet one of their major needs: backpacks and school supplies. With this support, Cairo children in need will receive a new backpack and supplies. Your contributions of $5, $10 or $20 will go directly to CEOSS to helpend illiteracy in Cairo. Please click here to donate,

How are UCC members working to promote literacy?

One Read - The UCC “all-church read” took place in the fall of 2014. UCC congregations engaged in study using the book: Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age. Learn more about the UCC One Read.

March Forth for Literacy – On March 4, 2015 UCC members engaged in a day of conversation via social media focused on spreading literacy awareness, and sharing their involvement in literacy issues locally and nationally. Learn more about March Forth for Literacy.

Community Engagement - In order to effectively address literacy, communities must come together on a large scale. The final push in the initiative is an effort to “Engage 3 Ways,” includes special service project at General Synod. UCC churches will partner with organizations that teach children and adults how to read: school systems and literacy programs.