ANAHEIM, Calif. - Finding third-grader Lucas Medina with his head in a book is a common sight. It wasn’t always this easy for him, though. 

“When I first started reading I was reading at a 3.1 and now I am starting to read at a 5.9,” he said. 

It took time, and also some access to a new gadget.

The Orange County United Way Women’s Philanthropy Fund recently held a fundraiser to raise money for their work in O.C., specifically their work at Paul Revere Elementary School in Anaheim. Among the ways United Way funds help the school is bringing the students reading growth opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. 

“Funds went to support each child to have their own Chromebook here, which helps with computer literacy but also programs tailored to each kid's level. It gives them ownership. It’s the nicest thing they own,” third grade teacher Jennifer Swan-Altieri said. 

She teaches at Paul Revere, and she’s seen firsthand how the Chromebooks and the reading programs they provide have changed these kids' lives. 

“I have kids reading from the third grade reading level to a sixth, creating that growth within one year. I even have a student who for the first time ever is reading at a seventh grade level. That is unheard of here at our school,” she said. 

Lucas may be young, but he knows the impact her motivation has on him.  

“It's helped me change by knowing my teacher loves when I read and get to high goals,” he said. 

While the kids have all the tools necessary to excel inside the walls of the school…

“Outside of our gates you’ll see graffiti walls, there’s a very strong gang presence here, broken bottles, and our students have to navigate their way through that everyday to get here. Once they get inside, this is their safe haven,” Swan-Altieri said. 

All the more reason to make sure this classroom has everything they need – at this critical age in development. 

“This is that key level that early level. Once they have that foundation of literacy, learning to read turns into reading to learn,” she said. 

So Lucas can keep on growing his reading score, and his mind.