Foundation seeks support for literacy program

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By Kacie Goode

The Nelson County Schools Community Support Foundation, working closely with the Nelson County Community Early Childhood Council, is looking to promote early literacy across the county, but it needs financial support in doing so.

CSF Interim Director Brooke Whitlow announced last week that the foundation had entered a partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a program that will mail one high-quality, age-appropriate book to each registered child every month from infancy to the time they start school.

DPIL has been used in Nelson County in the past, but Whitlow and others want to see it grow and be made available to children “in all zip codes.” The Early Childhood Council had originally started the program with limited federal funding but has since turned over affiliation to the Foundation in an effort to expand its reach.

Through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the monthly books are provided to children at no cost to the families, which is why partnerships with organizations such as the Foundation and Council are important. As an official affiliate, it is up to the Foundation to secure the funding to get those books in the hands of children.

“According to last year’s census, we have 3,036 children birth to 5 in all of our Nelson County zip codes,” Whitlow said, which would be an estimated cost of $75,000 to serve all of those children. The cost of the program is $25 per year per child, Whitlow said, reiterating the parents do not pay that cost.

The foundation cannot provide books to all of those children without first meeting its fundraising goal to pay for the program, and it is looking to garner support from the community to do that. Whitlow said fundraising efforts to help raise the anticipated $75,000 will officially kick off May 14 on Kentucky Gives Day, a donation initiative for non-profits. Until that time, Whitlow said, the Foundation has launched an online store where community members can purchase Nelson County Schools ‘I Heart NC’ gear as part of the fundraising. The online store can be accessed at npossiblegear.com.

While the Foundation works with Nelson County Schools, children living in the City Schools district and enrolled in parochial schools will also be eligible to register to receive books once funding is secured.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was launched in 1995 in Tennessee and has since been made a national effort to promote early literacy among children.