Delta Dental TN and Governors Books from Birth Award 'Bigger Smile Grants' to TN Imagination Library Programs

January 29, 2018

Delta Dental of Tennessee is partnering with Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) to award 26 Bigger Smiles grants to support the enrollment growth of Imagination Library programs in selected Tennessee counties. Currently, 69 percent of the state’s total age-eligible population—more than 281,000 preschoolers—are enrolled in Tennessee’s Imagination Library program statewide and receive one high-quality, age-appropriate book each month in the mail.

“We are extremely grateful to Delta Dental of Tennessee for their continued support of early childhood literacy and Tennessee’s Imagination Library,” said Theresa Carl, president, GBBF. “Our goal is for all families in Tennessee to experience the joy of reading with children. Bigger Smiles grants allow us to send more books to a continuously growing number of children across the state, giving them exposure to books as early in life as possible – the key to developing strong early literacy skills before kindergarten.”

Delta Dental of Tennessee has invested in Tennessee’s Imagination Library and GBBF since the statewide program began in 2004. The Bigger Smiles grants help Imagination Library programs in these counties to sustain growing book costs due to high-volume enrollment.

“Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation has a proven track record of making an impact on the literacy level of young Tennesseans and helping them be ready for school by kindergarten as well as helping them excel in school,” said Dr. Phil Wenk, President, Delta Dental of Tennessee and board member for the Governor’s Book from Birth Foundation. “We know that children across the state have a stronger foundation thanks to the work of GBBF, and this foundation will also help them to be better, stronger, and even healthier students. We are proud to support Books from Birth programs throughout Tennessee.”

GBBF and Delta Dental TN held 4 regional check presentations last week in Nashville, Jackson, Cookeville and Knoxville. Representatives from surrounding awarded counties were invited  to participate and meet Delta Dental President and CEO and GBBF Board Member Dr. Phil Wenk.

Middle Tennessee

Included Imagination Library Programs in Bedford, Cheatham, Coffee, Dickson, Marshall, Rutherford Counties 

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Pictured left to right: (back row) Coffee Co. Imagination Library Board Member Barry Samples, Dickson Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Angela Redden, Cheatham Co. Imagination Library Board Member Jeff Bennett, Delta Dental President and CEO Dr. Phil Wenk, Marshall Co. Imagination Library Board Member Nichole Musgrave. (front row) Coffee Co. Imagination Library Board Member Pat Rosario, Rutherford Co. Books from Birth Coordinator Jessica Cooper, Coffee Co. Imagination Library Co-Chair Sarah Hailey, Coffee Co. Imagination Library Co-Chair Frances Samples, Bedford Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Betsy Wheeler, GBBF President Theresa Carl, GBBF Vice President Dean Hoskins. 

West Tennessee

Included Imagination Library Programs in Chester, Dyer, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lauderdale, Madison Counties

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Pictured left to right: GBBF President Theresa Carl, Hardeman Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Monroe Woods, Dyer Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Alison Coleman, Madison Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Jason Schultz, Delta Dental President and CEO Dr. Phil Wenk, Lauderdale Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Jennifer Jordan, Hardeman Co. Imagination Library Board Member Bailee Hutchinson, Haywood Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Jerilyn Thornton.

Upper Cumberland

Included Imagination Library Programs in Jackson, Putnam, Van Buren Counties

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Pictured left to right: Putnam County Imagination Library Board Members Kim Decker and Diane Duncan, Cookeville Regional Medical Center Foundation President and CEO John Bell, Jackson County Imagination Library Coordinator Rebecka Head, Putnam County Imagination Library Coordinator Barbara Wilhite, Putnam County Imagination Library Board Member Barbara Greeson, GBBF Vice President Dean Hoskins, Delta Dental President and CEO Dr. Phil Wenk, Putnam County Imagination Library Board Members Joanne White and Chelsea Gifford.

East Tennessee

Included Imagination Library Programs in Campbell, Grainger, Greene, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Morgan, Rhea, Roane, Unicoi Counties

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Pictured left to right: (back row) Loudon Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Michele Lewis, Knox Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Danielle Velez, Roane Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Jill McMaster, Delta Dental President and CEO Dr. Phil Wenk, Greene Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Ruth Burkey, Unicoi Co. Imagination Library Coordinators Denise and Larry Rose. (front row) Campbell Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Nelsie Wooden, Grainger Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Rebekah Gibson, GBBF Vice President Dean Hoskins, Morgan Co. Imagination Library Coordinator Donna Jerden, Rhea County Imagination Library volunteers Linda Abel and Jamie Ridley.