United Way of Metropolitan Nashville Becomes Sponsoring Organization For Middle Tennessee's Imagination Library Program

June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013, Nashville, Tenn. —Today, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville will assume responsibility for Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee’s Imagination Library, a program that distributes books to children from birth up to five years old across Davidson, Williamson and Sumner counties at no charge to families. Now known as the Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is assuming operations from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which has run the program since its inception.

United Way of Metropolitan Nashville was selected as a partner in this effort because of a strong history of early literacy programming, particularly United Way Read to Succeed. With the Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership complementing United Way Read to Succeed, the organization will be able to display a clear path to literacy for children from birth to five years old. This partnership will provide the foundation necessary to reach children across the region.

“Giving a child a book to read is one of the key actions you can do to promote academic success,” Crissy Haslam, First Lady of Tennessee, said. “Bill and I are very grateful to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for its help since early 2005 to provide books to more than 75,000 children in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner counties, and we are excited for the new partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Keeping this program strong in Middle Tennessee can help children grow a love for reading, preparing them for future success in school and in life.”

All of Tennessee’s 408,000 children under age five have access to the Imagination Library, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state. Begun by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. As the Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership transitions from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, United Way will now facilitate the delivery of the books to 33,000 families each month in the three-county area.

"I was thrilled when I heard United Way was taking over the Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership in Nashville because we have enjoyed a long and successful international partnership with them,” said Dolly Parton. “Great things have happened, but I see even better days ahead."
More than 17 million books have been delivered since the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation’s (GBBF) inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors, and a host of private corporate sponsors, the GBBF matches ($12 per book, per child) all funds raised by each of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program affiliates – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S.

“We are honored to have been a part of such a vital program available to all children in our community,” said Luke Gregory, CEO, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “We could not have found a better community partner to assume sponsorship of this program, enabling it to serve even more children, especially those most in need.”

“This program has achieved broad visibility and there is strong recognition of the Imagination Library/Books from Birth name,” said Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. “United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is well positioned to expand the program to include even more children while also using it to improve school readiness of more of those in need.”
To address this issue, the United Way Read to Succeed program currently impacts approximately 1,200 children. Every year since 2006, more than 94 percent of the students enrolled in the program are assessed as “ready for kindergarten.”

“The Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership is a strong complement to United Way’s efforts to impact education and early childhood literacy, particularly the United Way Read to Succeed program,” said Margaret Dolan, Vice President, Community Relations, Ingram Industries and 2013 Strategy Chair, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. “As we combine the Imagination Library/Books from Birth partnership with United Way Read to Succeed, it will be exciting to see an even greater impact on children in our community, as the community is coming together to create a path to literacy for at-risk children.”

About United Way of Metropolitan Nashville
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville seeks to impact the education, financial stability and health of Nashvillians through partnerships, innovation and return on investment. Last year the organization produced a direct and identifiable impact of $55 million through its 2-1-1 Helpline, Family Resource Centers, Read to Succeed Program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, Days of Action and Outcome-Based Investments. For more information about how United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is positively impacting the Nashville community, visit: http://www.unitedwaynashville.org.

About Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is one of the nation's leading children's hospitals, treating and helping prevent all health issues ranging from colds and broken bones to heart disease and cancer. The world-class facilities at Children's Hospital are a testament to our community's dedication to the health of children. Constructed in 2004 and expanded in 2012, our 271-bed hospital is a child-friendly place built on the science of healing.

About the GBBF
The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation, in partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, puts free, high-quality, age-appropriate books in the hands of registered Tennessee preschoolers statewide. Its mission is to support the ongoing, statewide operation of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library – assisting all Tennessee preschool children by developing their vocabularies, boosting their school readiness, and fostering a love of learning and reading – and ensure that free, high quality, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month directly to these children’s homes, from birth until age five.