Literacy Programs

We’re fighting to shift the odds so tomorrow’s leaders can build a better foundation today. With an approach to literacy that spans from cradle to career, we’re ensuring every child gets a strong start in life, teenagers have the tools to learn and grow, and young adults thrive in the job market.

Through our programs and partnerships, Sammy, Imagination Library and Reading Plus, we work to ensure the importance of reading and financial literacy are not forgotten.

  • We advocate for literacy through the WALI community initiative.
  • The Imagination Library has distributed more than 60,000 books to preschoolers to prepare them for kindergarten by learning to read.
  • Power Readers serves over 1,000 students that benefit from our reading improvement partnerships. Students average over 3-grade levels improvement in one year, with many reaching grade-level reading for the first time.
  • Sammy makes it easy for anyone to talk to and teach kids about money and habits. Learn more about early-age financial literacy through songs, .

Reading Plus is currently supported by United Way in schools and community organizations throughout Santa Barbara County. We hope to expand the program so that every child has the opportunity to be reading at grade level when they graduate high school. 

Reading Plus develops reading efficiency in order to free up mental energy for comprehension and make reading more enjoyable and rewarding.



Imagination Library

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has mailed out over one million books to children internationally since 1995. We are proud to be a part of that effort. Through Imagination Library, children under five years old receive monthly books for free. At Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, we devote a portion of our budget to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. We have graduated nearly 2,000 children from our local program, and we have close to 300 children currently receiving books. 

As expected, this program costs more as we enroll more children. However, that is subject to change depending on the amount of support the program receives.

  • To support a child's Imagination Library membership for one year, we ask you to donate just $25.
  • A small gift can change a child's future.
  • We receive many applications for enrollment per month, and they are on our waiting list.
  • With your help, they can begin receiving books within the next few weeks.

If you want to enroll your child in our Imagination Library program, we do remind you that there is a waiting list. However, we enroll children on a first come first serve basis, so early enrollment is encouraged. Download the PDF below, print it, fill it out, and mail it to us at PO Box 947, Santa Maria, CA  93456.



Strawberry Moon CoverNorthern Santa Barbara County United Way is partnering with
the Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2020
to support Literacy
with this fabulous children's book, "Strawberry Moon Says, Goodnight".



Strawberry Moon is perched low in the sky, Ready to rest while the day flies by In the evening, it rises and looks to explore The Santa Maria Valley and so much more!


La Luna de Fresa se posa bajo el cielo, Lista para descansar mientras el día pasa volando Por la noche sube y busca explorar ¡El Valle de Santa María y mucho más!


Strawberry Moon Says, Goodnight is a sweet bedtime story from the perspective of the moon looking down on the beautiful Santa Maria Valley. Located on the Central Coast of California, its mild climate allows for year-round adventures on sandy coastlines and rolling hills. Come along as the Strawberry Moon explores the Santa Maria Valley and surrounding area best known for its native wildlife, local beaches, huge famous strawberries, Santa Maria Style BBQ, and so much more!

Did you know Strawberry Moon is a nickname given to the full moon in the month of June by the Native American Algonquin tribe? It signifies the time of year to gather ripe, wild strawberries. 


Luna de Fresa Dice, Buenas Noches es un dulce cuento para antes de dormir desde la perspectiva de la luna mirando hacia abajo al hermoso Valle de Santa María. Ubicado en la costa central de California, su clima templado permite aventuras durante todo el año en las costas arenosas y colinas onduladas. ¡Acompáñanos a lo largo mientras la Luna de Fresa explora el Valle de Santa María y sus alrededores, más conocidos por su vida silvestre nativa, playas locales, enormes fresas famosas, barbacoa estilo Santa María, ¡y mucho más! ¿Sabías que la Luna de Fresa es un apodo dado a la luna llena en el mes de junio por la tribu nativa americana Algonquin? Significa la época del año para recoger maduras fresas silvestres.    

Each year, a class of area business professionals from across all industries chooses a legacy project to contribute a lasting impact of improving the local community. The 2020 Leadership Class elected to sponsor two projects: a mobile observatory in partnership with the City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, and a bilingual children’s book about the landmarks of the Santa Maria Valley that will benefit the Northern Santa Barbara County United Way and its literacy programs, as well as, the "The Arts" programs at the Boys and Girls Club of the Mid Central Coast and P.L.A.Y. 


This book is aptly named for the last full moon of Spring and occurs in the month of June. Illustrations to depict the book’s verses were done by students through an art contest held by the Leadership Class for students in the Santa Maria Valley in 4th-12th grade.

The book also encourages literacy in our area where, according to the Literacy Project Foundation, only 25% of students in California school systems can perform basic reading skills.





Sammy's Money School





Contact Us to get started - for parents with children Ages 3 and up.

Kids and families discover their dreams; grow their money knowledge; and have fun doing activities, listening to stories, singing songs and playing games with Sammy Rabbit!