United Through Reading Receives $15K from Craig Newmark Philanthropies

December 13, 2018

Grant from craigslist founder to help create two new sites to connect military families through video-recorded storytime during periods of separation

United Through Reading (UTR) is proud to announce a $15,000 grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the organization of craigslist founder Craig Newmark. The grant will support the creation of two new video-recording sites that will be embedded in military commands, providing military members who are anticipating duty-related separation with a way to video-record themselves reading stories for their children’s education and enjoyment.

In its 29th year, UTR helps to foster literacy development and sustained parental-child bonds by using the power of video-recorded shared storytime, connecting military families during periods of separation. Reading skills are foundational to all learning, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines. As such, a key part of UTR’s work supports the development of STEM skills and interests by ensuring its libraries house a variety of STEM-related books for military members to read to their children. The grant from Craig Newmark, a dedicated advocate for STEM education, will bolster these efforts.

“United Through Reading is grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for awarding us with this grant,” said Dr. Sally Ann Zoll, Chief Executive Officer. “It will not only help military families stay connected through the power of reading aloud but also foster and develop an early love of STEM.”

Many studies have found a strong link between reading and the beginning of STEM literacy at a young age. According to Developing Math Skills in Early Childhood by Barbara Harris and Dana Petersen, children start learning math skills in infancy, and there is much evidence that connects early math competencies, such as the ability to count and identify shapes, with later reading and math success.

Photo credit: Bleacher + Everard

“We owe a lot to active service members, veterans, and their families, who all make sacrifices to protect our democracy.” said Newmark. “We have a duty to stand with them year-round, and that means it’s on us to help military kids get a great education.”

Newmark continued: “United Through Reading provides a big early step toward the success of military kids in school, and I’m proud support their critical work of keeping families connected and helping foster learning across topics, including STEM.”

By creating effective positive parenting routines, such as shared storytime, UTR video recordings help children learn to love reading and form those fundamental foundations that are critical to learning STEM disciplines.

UTR is grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for seeing its multifaceted value in the military community.


United Through Reading is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit organization founded 29 years ago. UTR’s mission is together, we unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud. 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 at any given time, 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, Armed Services YMCAs, and VA in-patient clinics. Since its inception, more than 2 million military parents, spouses, and children have benefited from the program.


Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by craigslist founder Craig Newmark to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. The organization works to advance people and grassroots organizations that are getting stuff done in areas that include trustworthy journalism, voter protection, gender diversity in technology, and veterans and military families. For more information, please visit: CraigNewmarkPhilanthropies.org.