Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a program that provides free, high-quality books to children from birth until their fifth birthday, regardless of a family’s income. The Allegan County United Way and the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) partnered in 2005 to bring the library to children in Allegan County, according to a United Way news release.
For the past 13 years, United Way has funded the program, and last year, AAESA provided staff to manage registrations and maintain the data base in true collaborative spirit, the release said. Over time, the program has grown beyond all expectations, serving more than 50 percent of all Allegan children under five years old.
The cost to provide this program grew to outweigh United Way’s ability to financially support all of the agencies that rely on annual United Way funds and the Imagination Library. So, the search began for ways to continue the program by reaching out to potential sponsors and supporters.
After several meetings and discussions, the Gun Lake Casino stepped in as the title sponsor to keep library available for all kids in our community. Without their support, the library would not have been able to continue operating. The sponsorship begins with a one-year $100,000 commitment and has potential to continue in the future.
“Gun Lake Casino strives to be an active partner in the community,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for the casino. “We are proud to begin in this partnership with the United Way and Imagination Library to promote literacy and ensure all children in Allegan County have access to this beneficial program.”
“To have kids reading at the appropriate level by the end of third grade must be a priority for our community,” said Bill Brown, superintendent of AAESA. “This sets our students on a pathway that leads to successful school progression and leads to the ability to complete post-secondary experiences that lead to family sustaining jobs. The Imagination Library is an early childhood literacy program that gives our kids a chance to start school ready and hit that third grade goal.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.acuw.org/imagination-library.