The funded Community Partner in Fremont County is Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Southwest Wyoming.
For the continuation of this program in Fremont County, the local School District #25 Graduation Matters committee has pledged their support. They are making starter packets that are distributed by public health and will conduct fundraising activities, including assisting with United Way workplace campaigns.
Parents - you can REGISTER here.
United Way of Southwest Wyoming launched the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in Fremont County in January 2016 with a $21,000 grant from the Union Pacific Foundation. This program mails one free, age appropriate book each month to enrolled children.
United Way of Southwest Wyoming started Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Southwest Wyoming as part of their education initiative to help children be kindergarten ready. From their research they found that a high percentage of children in the region were reading below proficiency. Registration opened up to children in Sweetwater, Uinta, Lincoln and Sublette Counties in 2010.
To implement the program in Fremont County, Fremont County newborns born in 2016 are eligible for the first year. Parents of 2017 newborns can register their child online or pick up a form from Fremont County Public Health in Lander and Riverton, WY. In 2018 these children will continue the program and 2018 newborns will be eligible for enrollment. Children graduate from the program when they turn five. If a child is enrolled in the program from start to finish, by the time he or she reaches 5, the program will have supplied the child with 60 books.
“We chose to start with newborns and work up so we could begin distributing books now. Otherwise, a lot of additional funding would be needed. As we move forward registering more children every year, fundraising will be more and more important,” said Kelly Frink, Executive Director at United Way of Southwest Wyoming.
The cost to the community is minimal – for Southwest Wyoming, it’s estimated at only $35 per year, per child. Quite the bargain, considering the lasting impact on children. The Union Pacific foundation grant will cover the costs of newborns for the first year. The program will then rely on future grants and community support.
Frink said children who participate in the program are more prepared for kindergarten and are better readers by the time they reach eight years old, according to the Dollywood Foundation’s statistics.
About 90 percent of the books are hardback, and books are rotated on a five-year cycle to reduce the chance of siblings receiving the same book. Children only receive two of the same books in that cycle, their first and their last, which both have letters from Dolly Parton herself. All of the books provided to children are through Penguin Publishing, each is age appropriate.
Men Who Cook aims to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Fremont County. The 2018 event will be held on March 3rd in Riverton, Wyoming. UWSW will provide more details as the event date approaches.