United Through Reading Set to Develop First Free Read-Aloud App for Military Families with Interactive Book Features

SAN DIEGO--()--At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Atlanta, United Through Reading (UTR) commits to develop an iOS and Android mobile app that will build on UTR’s proven model of allowing military families to experience reading aloud together while deployed or away on active-duty assignment. UTR leads partners Kindoma, First Book, and Too Small to Fail in this Commitment to Action to further expand access to the program which will benefit 10,000 military members, spouses, and children within the first year of development.

What you need to know about UTR’s Commitment to Action:

  • UTR commits to develop an iOS and Android mobile app that will allow military families to experience reading aloud together while deployed or away on active-duty assignment.
  • Commitment partners include UTR, Kindoma, First Book, and Too Small to Fail.
  • The commitment includes app development and seeks to benefit at least 10,000 military members, spouses, and children within the first year of development.
  • The app will provide the ability to pre-record book readings and the ability to read books together over live video chat with the book appearing on each user's screen.
  • App development will begin September 2016 and continue through August 2017.
  • Commitment partners are seeking a research and evaluation partner.

“In our more than 25 years, the need for connecting military families has not changed; however, the context in which we operate has changed drastically,” says United Through Reading Chief Executive Officer Sally Ann Zoll, Ed.D. “The technology landscape around video delivery has been radically disrupted in the past five years; mobile devices and applications now provide the opportunity for UTR to reach more constituents at a lower cost. We’re grateful we have strong and expert partners to help us deliver this option to our military families.”

The four-organization partnership consists of UTR leading program management and implementation; Kindoma creating the app; First Book working with its publishing partners to curate the app’s book collection; and Too Small to Fail creating parent-directed printable tip sheets and other resources to help military parents support their children’s early literacy skills and help families stay connected through language-rich activities like talking, reading and singing.

The app will provide the ability to pre-record book readings with video synchronized to page view and, when a live connection is possible, the ability to read books together over live video chat with the same page of the book appearing on each user's screen. Additionally, evaluation tools will be integrated into the app; commitment partners are currently seeking a research and evaluation partner.

The Department of Defense’s Defense Manpower Data Center has estimated that more than 114,000 service members were separated from their families in 2015 due to service related obligations; approximately 224,000 children are affected by these separations. Military families, especially children, can be at a disadvantage due to the challenges of military service; about one third of the military children surveyed by UTR reported symptoms of anxiety. Additionally, a recent study by the RAND Corporation found an association between children who have endured long separations from a parent due to military deployment and lower achievement in reading and math. The UTR app will be developed to allow connections to be forged and maintained while families deal with the difficulty of being apart, and to encourage early literacy skills and language development in military children who may struggle academically.

“The UTR app development will begin this September and continue through August of the following year,” said Zoll. “This commitment leverages emerging technologies, and wonderful partnerships, in order to more efficiently expand our reach, providing this unique and important service to more military members across the globe, even in locations in which UTR does not currently have a physical presence.”

For more than 25 years, United Through Reading (UTR) has been connecting U.S. military families across all branches of service who face physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. The organization has served almost two million beneficiaries since its founding. In 2015, United Through Reading was recognized by the Library of Congress for its contribution to literacy in the military community, and in 2016 was the inaugural recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Community Service Hero Award.

About United Through Reading

United Through Reading is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization that has been in service for 27 years; its mission is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. United Through Reading offers service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to children at home which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, and cultivates a love of reading and early childhood literacy. At more than 200 recording locations worldwide, service members can read to the children who are special to them on military bases and outposts, deployed U.S. Navy ships, U.S. Coast Guard cutters and at select USOs. Since its inception, nearly 2 million military parents, spouses and children have benefited from the program. For more information, visit unitedthroughreading.org and follow us on Twitter @UTR4Military and Facebook at facebook.com/unitedthroughreading.

About Clinton Global Initiative America

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America brings together leaders from the business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors to develop solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. CGI America’s annual convening is designed to be a working meeting that promotes collaboration. Each CGI America participant makes a Commitment to Action: a new, specific, and measurable plan that supports increased economic growth and opportunity. To date, CGI America participants have made more than 500 commitments, which have improved the lives of nearly 2.4 million people. For more information, visit cgiamerica.org.

Contacts

United Through Reading (UTR)
Taylor Monaco
Director of Communications
619-820-6941

Release Summary

At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Atlanta, United Through Reading commits to develop first free read-aloud app for military families with interactive book features.

Contacts

United Through Reading (UTR)
Taylor Monaco
Director of Communications
619-820-6941