Originally published June 21, 2011 at 4:56 p.m., updated June 21, 2011 at 4:48 p.m.
About a third of San Diego County 4th graders are not proficient readers. In 2009, more than 8,800 high school students in the county dropped out. The non-profit United Way wants to address this problem by issuing a call for 10,000 volunteers to tutor and mentor San Diego kids.
Basketball legend Bill Walton of San Diego pledged his support as the first volunteer. At a press conference today he compared success in life to victory on the court.
“The beautiful thing about the game of basketball is that all you have to do is wait for the opening tip,” Walton said. “And then it’s who wants it, who can play, and who’s willing to chase their dream. And when I see these young children with that sense of ‘yeah, I get to play today,’ it’s just so incredibly special because we have that chance to make a difference.”
UCSD, the County Office of Education, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rolling Readers and Chula Vista Serves have teamed up with United Way to reach their goal of 10,000 volunteers by 2014. United Way hopes to attract 1,000,000 national volunteers by 2018. For more information, visit the volunteer section of the United Way website, www.uwsd.org.