Junior Leader Readers

In March 2017, Junior Leader Readers presented its 30,000th free book! As of May 2018, JLR has given 35,681 books to local students. Thank you to all our sponsors, volunteer readers, and to every person who has donated even $1 to make sure kids have books of their very own. Read about the celebration!

Sara Shute at Pauline Central Kndgrtn drkd sm 2-2014

The Junior Leader Readers program has placed almost 30,000 books in the hands of preschoolers and kindergartners in predominantly low-income schools.

Junior Leader Readers (JLR) is a program launched in 2010 by the YLS group. Through the generosity  of corporate or individual sponsorship and our partnership with the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, we purchase books for kindergarten students in Shawnee County.

The program was initially launched at Scott Magnet Elementary in Topeka and the first book was sponsored by YLS member Ryan Yamka in memory of his father, Harry. In program’s first year, nearly 100 Kindergarten students participated in a special book reading and received a copy of the book Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement.
JLR twitter collage
Since the program’s start, Junior Leader Readers have distributed nearly 30,000 books to kids who need them most. After the last reading of the 2014-2015 year, a teacher from Topeka Public Schools sent this thank you to the Young Leaders Society:

I have been an educator for the past 12 years.  My career has been spent in Title 1 schools.  Many of my students have faced significant emotional and financial obstacles.  There has also been a large increase in the number of students who are now in foster homes.  Without the Junior Reader Leader program, many of my students would not have a book to call “their very own.” In fact, one of my students this year ran up to me and held the “Mouse’s First Spring” book, and said, “This is the very first book that belongs to ME” – then proceeded to give me a huge hug.

Thank you, United Way, for giving my students hope.  With your generosity, my students now have a book to love and cherish-at home!  You are truly making a difference in the lives of the children that I have the privilege to serve.

Topeka 501 Elementary Teacher

Special thanks to our current JLR sponsors Security Benefit, BNSF Railway, Bartlett and West, and Topeka South Rotary.

To get involved as a volunteer or inquire about how to participate as a sponsoring company, email angel.romero@unitedwaytopeka.org or call (785) 228-5128.