Bold Goals

The River Region United Way's Bold Goal Initiative is a community-wide initiative to increase reading proficiency levels across Alabama's five-county River Region.

A student’s ability to read at the end of the third grade is a strong predictor of that child’s future success in school and what career opportunities await them after they graduate. We can change the trajectory of many of our children’s life by prioritizing investments into and better aligning the region’s collective educational efforts from birth through the third grade toward a common goal and shared vision.

We aim to better align ongoing and new efforts to address the root causes for why some children are struggling to read so that we can put all children on a path to school success by the end of the third grade.



The River Region United Way’s Bold Goals project can improve the region’s overall academic outcomes by investing in strategies from birth that help students learn to read proficiently by the end of the third grade.

For decades, the River Region United Way has conducted a Community Needs Assessment to help us better understand the region’s health, education, financial stability, and basic needs. This survey helps us better prioritize our annual investments. A common thread across counties and domains – whether we are talking about unemployment, housing, or hunger - stems from the area’s lagging educational competencies. It has become clear that we can improve our area’s overall academic outcomes if we invest in strategies from birth that help students learn to read proficiently by the end of the third grade.

The third grade is when students switch from learning to read to reading to learn. Unfortunately, in the River Region, too many students are not reading at a strong enough level in the third grade and beyond to succeed in their later classes. This barrier impacts their ability to graduate from high school on time, go on to college, and even limit the career opportunities available to them. Put simply, third-grade reading is a critical academic benchmark that our region cannot afford to ignore. Bold Goals seeks to harness our community’s collective energy to help and focus it on creating real, sustainable and lasting change.


The Bold Goals project is open to every person, organization, and entity interested in putting into action a pathway for all children in the River Region to learn to read proficiently by the end of the third grade.

The truth is, there is no one organization or strategy that will help the River Region’s children learn to read better. We believe that when we all come together into the same room – organized around a shared vision and common goal – we will start to understand the challenges more clearly, connect dots that are otherwise being ignored, overcome perpetual barriers, and generate new ideas to help more of our children learn to read.


The Bold Goals seeks to breaks down silos by organizing the River Region behind a common goal, shared benchmarks and measurements of success.

From early childhood through the third grade, there are several people and organizations working with children and families every day to help them strengthen their reading skills. However, too often, these groups are working independently of one another. These silos unintentionally lessen the impact we could have if we were to bring all parties and groups working on this community need together – not to change their mission, but to align their work behind a common goal, shared benchmarks, and measurements of success.


The Bold Goals Coalition is comprised of businesses, nonprofits, schools, churches and municipalities solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.

Coalition Partners

Dr. Jacqueline Brooks
Gary A. Cobbs
Mayor Bill Gillespie
Heather Grayson
Mayor Tony Haygood
Dr. W. Rhea Ingram
Rick Jackson
Mayor Al Kelley
Dr. Ann Roy Moore
Adam Muhlendorf
Mayor Steven Reed
Ann Sikes
Ron Simmons
Dr. Carl Stockton
Mayor Gordon Stone
Dr. Mike Williams
Mayor Jerry Willis

Macon County Schools
YMCA of Greater Montgomery
City of Prattville
Highland Avenue Elementary School
City of Tuskegee
 Auburn University at Montgomery
Boys & Girls Clubs of the River Region
City of Millbrook
Montgomery Public Schools
Longleaf Strategies/Strive Together
City of Montgomery
Montgomery Education Foundation
River Region United Way
Auburn University at Montgomery
Town of Pike Road
Faulkner University
City of Wetumpka