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David Bruton Jr and Mile High United Way Launch First Club Connect Program in CO

David Bruton Jr., Christine Benero, Heather Woodward, and kids

Mile High United Way has partnered with Denver Broncos Super Bowl 50 Champion and NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, David Bruton Jr., to launch “Club Connect” at Kenton Elementary School in Aurora. United Way Club Connect provides schools with resources to improve early-grade reading through an onsite Reading Oasis library, an online reading platform for each child, and an incentive program and tools to support parental engagement. The innovative reading program focuses on third grade, a critical year in reading proficiency for students.

“We are so thrilled to be opening the very first United Way Club Connect in Colorado here at Kenton Elementary, made possible by a generous donation from David Bruton Jr. and Bruton’s Books,” said Christine Benero, president and CEO of Mile High United Way. “David Bruton Jr. has been an incredible partner of ours, as we share the same passion and vision for ensuring children become strong readers by the end of third grade. He is a true champion both on and off the field.”

At the center of the program is a “Reading Oasis” in the school, which provides a comfortable space complete with 500 new books from Scholastic, bean bag chairs, and an audio book listening center. It is a safe and inviting location where students, families, and community partners can meet and enjoy reading together while gaining access to books year-round. 

“We are extremely excited and thankful for the opportunity to develop a Reading Oasis at Kenton Elementary,” said Heather Woodward, Principal of Kenton Elementary. “It is critically important that our students have easy access to books and now there will be a dedicated and beautiful space for students and their families to grow in their love for literacy together.”

United Way Club Connect at Kenton Elementary is funded by David Bruton Jr. and Bruton’s Books, the charitable program of the David Bruton Jr. Fund to help underserved children in grades K-3 become strong readers through tutoring and by providing books to underfunded schools, libraries, and classrooms.

“It is so important to me personally to do my part in helping children have access to books and develop a love of reading, especially at the elementary school level,” said Bruton Jr. “I hope this is just one of many Club Connect programs I can support through my partnership with Mile High United Way and our local schools.”

United Way Club Connect also helps elementary school students by providing relevant books and resources to promote reading and parent engagement throughout the entire year. In addition to the Reading Oasis, every child receives a free one-year membership to the Club Connect website, which encourages a love for reading and offers incentives to read after school and through the summer. The interactive website unitedwayclubconnect.org features educational games, videos, e-books and more. Parental engagement is also a primary focus, which empowers families to help their children read and learn, especially during the summer months when students can tend to lose achievement gains they made during the previous school year.

Club Connect Adopt-A-School was launched by United Way Worldwide in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and Scholastic in 2014. To date, 85 elementary schools across the US have participated in the program.