Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Funds sought for Imagination Library: By Leonard K. Stark

The Cumberland County Imagination Library has announced a program to solicit funds from community residents to financially assist in providing books to all children from birth through five years of age.

The state of Tennessee provides a matching grant for supporting the program. The current budget is $24,000, of which $12,000 must be raised by the community (by state mandate).

In 1966 the Dolly Parton Foundation funded an Imagination Library for children in her native Sevier County, Tennessee. The reading program for children — from birth through age five — proved to be a valuable tool in promoting literacy. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen was so impressed with the results of the program that in 2000 he created a Governor’s “Books from Birth Foundation” in every county in the state. All 95 counties in the state are participating. Cumberland County ranks next to the bottom for literacy in Tennessee.
Local businesses, organizations and private persons have contributed funds for the program to date, including Wal-Mart, United Fund of Cumberland County, Fairfield Glade Rotary Club, Lake Tansi Exchange Club, and Friends of the Library.

In these stressful economic times, some of their sources have had to diminish their giving. This means they need the community to help in meeting their goal so that every child may be included in this most important program.
Literacy creates a stable family through gainful employment. A literate work force can attract more industries and without such a work force our local economies can be penalized. Those persons unable to be gainfully employed pay little or no taxes. This shifts a greater burden to others. They often require unemployment or welfare benefits.

Children’s Literacy Initiative says 85% of juveniles who appear in court and 75% of unemployed adults are illiterate.

Of the 2566 eligible candidates in Cumberland County, 1720 or (64%) of the children are currently in the program at a cost of approximately $30 a year, per child. For the betterment of the community, more children need to be enrolled.

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