United Way Blackhawk Region is approaching a major milestone of 100,000 books mailed to local children from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. United Way launched the program in May 2018, announcing an initial investment of $180,000. 

Inspired by her own father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton’s dream was to foster a love of reading among preschool children and their families by gifting them with a specially selected book each month. In partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and due to United Way’s financial sponsorship, a free, age appropriate book is mailed each month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age 5 living in Beloit, Edgerton, or Janesville.

While enrollment in Imagination Library is open to everyone, funding and capacity is limited. United Way works strategically to ensure organizations that provide support to underserved families have Imagination Library enrollment materials on hand, particularly community hubs such as public libraries, HeadStart, food pantries, and others.

“The holiday season is the perfect time to convey gratitude and share joyous news,” said United Way Blackhawk Region CEO Mary Fanning-Penny. “More than 4,200 local children have been mailed free books because of United Way’s financial support and partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. That’s a wonderful milestone to celebrate!” 

United Way’s focus remains on meeting the critical needs of our community and serving those who need it most. With a belief that success in life begins with early literacy and education that spans from cradle to career, United Way helps ensure every child gets a strong start in life, youth have the tools to learn and grow, and young adults thrive in the job market.