The mission of the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation is to build a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee's children. Our program sustains and strengthens Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month to Tennessee’s preschool children, at no cost to families and regardless of income. Tennessee's Imagination Library statewide program is an important component of our state's educational pathway from cradle to career and the state's newly announced Read to be Ready Campaign. We are working to assist adults in finding ways to engage in reading with their children; providing access to high quality, age-appropriate books is the first step in this process.
Donors to the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) help our organization meet a variety of fundamental needs, with funding directed toward sustaining the Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties.
The annual cost of the Imagination Library program is $24 per child. In Tennessee, this cost is split evenly between county Imagination Library program affiliates and the GBBF. The governor annually requests the General Assembly’s approval of a state budgetary allocation to pay for half of each county’s cost of providing books every month. Imagination Library programs in each county must raise $12 per child. A definitely pressing need is for engaged, enthusiastic, committed volunteers in each county, who are willing to maintain and grow the program locally. Many of our volunteer leaders have worked with the IL program almost since its inception. We must build a pipeline of new volunteers to keep the statewide program strong.
Donations to the GBBF allow us to continue sustaining and strengthening the Imagination Library program throughout Tennessee, while also addressing the following fundamental needs:
1) Providing emergency funding to distressed counties in need of immediate financial assistance
2) Expanding the Imagination Library program to include the roughly 2,500 Tennessee children currently in foster care, an initiative begun three years ago.
3) Providing ancillary programs, such as the purchase of sample book sets for 2,000 Head Start and Pre-K classrooms, as well as rewards for enrollment contests and local marketing
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is available to all 408,000 children under age five in Tennessee. Every month, children who participate in this incredible program receive one new, age-appropriate, high-quality book in the mail from birth until their fifth birthday – at no cost to families, regardless of income. Because Tennessee pioneered the first statewide Imagination Library program, our leadership sets the standard for other states wishing to replicate our experience and success.
Over the past eleven years, the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) has made significant strides in increasing statewide enrollment. Our ultimate goal remains the same, however: enrollment of all eligible children in the state. The nagging obverse of this goal is the cost of success: continued growth at our current pace poses an increasing challenge to counties raising their half of the program’s cost. In the short run, the challenge is to avoid local donor fatigue. In some counties, the GBBF County Assistance Fund may be the only immediate resource from which to draw in order to continue sending Imagination Library books to children’s homes. The perpetuation of this “safety net” is a large part of why we raise money. When we crossed the state in a "Big Blue Bus" to celebrate our 10th anniversary, the GBBF and First Lady Crissy Haslam were able to connect with volunteers, parents, teachers, children, and donors at the grassroots level. We learned that most adults will sacrifice beyond their means for their children to have access to books and to a great education. From the great-grandmother who "ran us down" in Marshall County with grandchildren in her van to the teen mom in Hamblen County who told us that although she couldn't read well, she still enjoyed the books and told stories with her baby every night, we say firsthand how meaningful and beloved this program is. That deep connection, coupled with our solid continued outcomes, will help Tennessee reach its reading proficiency goals. It's a multi-generational challenge - engaging children and adults in reading together.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in Tennessee. Our mission is simple: To sustain and strengthen Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Tennessee's preschool children, at no cost to families and regardless of income. We are building a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee's children. It's about access for all children and exposure to early literacy practices.
Since the program's inception in June 2004, we have successfully launched and sustained Imagination Library programs in all 95 counties in Tennessee. This is due in large part to the selfless efforts of hundreds of volunteers across Tennessee who are convinced – as we are – that the Imagination Library program will have a profound long-term positive impact on the future of Tennessee’s children. Tennessee is the only state in the nation to have the Imagination Library program in all of its 95 counties. This means that all 408,000 Tennessee children under age five are eligible to receive one new, age-appropriate, high-quality book in the mail every month, from birth until their fifth birthday – all at no cost to families, regardless of income.
Over 61.7% of the state’s eligible children already receive a free book every month, and enrollment continues to grow at a steady pace, described above. We have delivered over 25 million books through this amazing program since our inception in 2004. Teachers across the state attest to the Imagination Library’s effectiveness at increasing school readiness levels among children who participated. Many other states have contacted us and are considering duplicating our model. With the generous support of donors and volunteers at both the grassroots and corporate level, we have raised the public profile of Tennessee’s statewide Imagination Library while continuing to fulfill our mission of ensuring its growth, health, and survival.
Our vision is a future where all Tennessee children have developed a healthy love for learning through reading before they enter preschool, resulting in their improved long-term educational outcomes. As more of them “graduate” from the Imagination Library program in the years to come, all Tennesseans will benefit from a higher quality of life, improved health and educational outcomes, and a workforce with the skills and knowledge to drive the growth of our state’s economy well into the twenty-first century. Early childhood literacy is an education issue, a health issue and an economic issue.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam announced Theresa Carl as the new president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) in March 2012. Theresa brings more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, relationship-building, resource-connecting, and creative marketing to the GBBF. Her focus is on developing strategies for sustaining and strengthening the statewide Imagination Library program, established in 2004 in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. A native of Union City, she has a B.A. with distinction in Political Science and Urban Studies from Rhodes College. She has worked as director of development for LEAD Public Schools, Inc.; vice president of fund development for Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee; and director of development for the Frist Center for Visual Arts. Theresa has also served as president of the Junior League of Nashville; Rhodes College trustee; as an alumni board member of Leadership Nashville; president of The Rotary Club of Nashville; and was a member of the 2016 Leadership Tennessee class. She attends Westminster Presbyterian Church where she serves as an elder and a trustee of the Legacy Fund.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
In Tennessee, gang presence has been on the rise since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gangs first made a concerted push into the state. Since 2011, police have identified at least 5,000 gang members in Davidson County, and gang-related crimes have increased by 25%. Meanwhile, cities with 50,000 or fewer inhabitants have seen gang-related crimes triple in frequency nationally since 2005.
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