United Way's Dolly Parton Imagination Library Gets $10,000 Donation

By: Mandy Baker - iReporter Email
By: Mandy Baker - iReporter Email
(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

The RBG Foundation, established by employees of the Glasgow Electric Plant Board, and the RR Donnelley Foundation located in Glasgow, KY have come together in support of United Way of Southern Kentucky’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library program each donating $5,000. The $10,000 combined donation will help to launch the program in Barren County which will also be launched in Allen, Logan, and Warren Counties in the upcoming year.

United Way of Southern Kentucky is working to bring together companies, organizations and individuals within the community to make this program possible furthering the organization’s mission which is: “To be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community.” Furthermore, United Way’s Early Childhood Education community impact goal is to ensure that all children will enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

All children from newborn to five years of age are eligible to be enrolled in the program. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library will mail a brand new, age appropriate book each month to every child enrolled. Parent education tips are printed in each book. United Way will be raising the funding for the books and mailing, promoting the program, registering the children, and administering the database. From there The Dollywood Foundation will take over and manage the system to deliver the books to the homes of the children enrolled.

Kamala Martinez, Community Relations Manager for the RR Donnelley Foundation says, “It is with great pleasure that the RR Donnelley Foundation supports the United Way of Southern Kentucky and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. We appreciate the support and focus the United Way provides in shadowing and promoting the mission of the RR Donnelley Foundation.”

Amy Hall, RBG Foundation President, says, "The mission of the RBG Foundation is to provide educational opportunities for young people in our community, and the Imagination Library Program does just that. Our foundation is very excited about this program, and we consider it an honor to be able to support these children in Glasgow and Barren County."

Debbie Hills, Interim President of United Way of Southern Kentucky, says, “We are honored to be partnering with the RBG Foundation and the RR Donnelley Foundation to launch this program in Glasgow and Barren County. Most importantly is the impact that the program will have on the early reading and literacy skills of children in the community.”

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program was created in 1996 by Dolly Parton to benefit the children in Sevier County, her home county in east Tennessee. Dolly’s goal was to foster the love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. Moreover, she wanted to ensure that every child would have access to books, regardless of their family’s income. In March of 2000, Dolly Parton began to implement the plan to provide the Imagination Library to children in other communities.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library will help children not only with the basics of holding a book but also start a child’s interest in reading and learning. When a child looks forward to receiving their very own book each month it peaks their interest and they want parents, grandparents, older siblings and babysitters to read the book to them. This additional time being read to will teach the child how to hold a book, turn the page, increase vocabulary and stimulate the mind.

A highly prevalent amount of data exists to support the need for programs such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Economically disadvantaged children enter kindergarten 1-2 years behind in language and other skills. According to First Books, “in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, but in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.” This program will help build a stronger community by ensuring low income children have access to more essential tools to build stronger literacy skills. Statistics also show that 75% of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library works to kick start a child’s reading habits before they enter kindergarten.

Research continues to affirm the impact of Dolly's Imagination Library. The Dollywood Foundation surveyed a national sample of parents and determined that 66%-75% of all families reported that they now read to their child more frequently. Since then, dozens of local surveys of parents have found similar results.

United Way of Southern Kentucky will begin enrollments for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Glasgow on Monday, April 30th at 10am at Community Action’s Head Start located at 899 Shamrock.

For more information about the launch or the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, call the United Way office at 270.843.3205.

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives in our community. United Way is focused on critical issues including poverty, literacy, personal abuse, substance abuse, youth development, senior services, and physical and developmental disabilities. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community.

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