NASHVILLE – More than 185,000 children in Middle and East Tennessee counties will have the chance to develop their vocabulary, improve school readiness and grow a love for reading after a generous donation by the Appalachian Regional Commission, with assistance from the East Tennessee Development District.
The $100,000 donation will be matched by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) to ensure that free, high-quality, age appropriate books are sent each month to registered children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program.
In Appalachian Tennessee counties where the percentage of high school graduates can be as low as 50 percent, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation hope this investment will prep children in those counties to be more prepared when they enter Kindergarten and thus, prepare them for future success in their education.
“This is an excellent program; preparing children for success in an increasingly competitive global economy in which strong reading skills are essential,” says Louis Segesvary with the Appalachian Regional Commission. “If you start school behind, then you stay behind. But we want Appalachian children to get ahead of the learning curve, and this program helps them do just that.
Currently, 58 percent of all Tennessee children ages 0-5 are registered in the Imagination Library and are receiving free books in the mail. More than 164,000 Tennessee five-year-olds have already “graduated” from the program. The statewide program has helped deliver more than 9.6 million books to Tennessee children since the creation of the GBBF in 2004.
Created in 1996 by Dolly Parton as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails a new, age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to the family, regardless of income. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in every Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the GBBF.
Counties receiving funding include: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, London, McMinn, Macon, Marion, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington and White. For specific county information, please contact Jill Gorin at Jill.Gorin@tn.gov or (615) 253.4349.
About the GBBF:
The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation® was established in 2004 by Gov. Phil Bredesen and currently serves Imagination Library organizers in all 95 counties by providing fund-raising, public relations, and other support.
About the Appalachian Regional Commission:
ARC's mission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts.
To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call toll-free, 1-877-99-BOOKS.