About the Vicksburg/Warren County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Vicksburg, Mississippi, is a city poised for greatness. Its unique Mississippi River location, deep historical and cultural roots, and diverse population position it to move forward. Its citizens are ready and willing to work together to overcome our shortfalls. However, all dimensions of the population need equitable access to resources in order for the children of this community to be equipped to break the cycle of poverty. 

The United Way of West Central Mississippi serves as the lead partner in our efforts to help children and youth achieve their full potential.  The overarching vision of Vicksburg’s Grade-Level Reading Coalition is to coordinate the various efforts in our community intended to address barriers in the areas of school readiness, attendance, and summer learning for our young children from economically disadvantaged homes. 

Over thirty partners began discussing the barriers and decided to take action. The Vicksburg Leadership Class recognized the need for more parental support for new and expectant mothers; therefore, the annual Community Wide Baby Shower was born and continues to grow under the guidance of United Way of West Central MS, Excel by 5 and Merit Health River Region Medical Center.  Due to our extremely high poverty rate, it became evident that we needed to increase the number of free educational activities for our youth – Day of Action: Get Fit and Active with Curious George, Community Wide Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat, Born Learning Trail, and many more.  Due to a deficit of books in families’ homes, it became our goal to place as many age-appropriate books in the hands of our children through the L.E.A.R.N. initiative and other community wide events that lend to book distribution. The Coalition then made the conscious effort to form partnerships with the Vicksburg Warren School District, summer camps, and after-school programs to implement statistically proven curriculum directly aligned to the individual student’s need.  

“This campaign is just what our children and our city need,” said Michele Connelly, Executive Director of West Central Mississippi.  “It provides a framework to incorporate the entire community around reaching the goal of helping children and youth achieve their full potential. Collectively it is our responsibility to provide our children with a brighter today so that they can choose their own tomorrow.”


Michele Connelly
Executive Director
United Way of West Central Mississippi