Local United Way to oversee the Rutherford County Books from Birth chapter

August 23, 2015

The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties has recently announced its partnership with the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation to assume the responsibilities of the local Rutherford County Books from Birth chapter. The United Way will now be charged with increasing enrollment and operating the program activities.

The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) was created in 2004 and charged with a statewide implementation of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. The GBBF works to support and sustain county programs by providing fundraising, public relations, strategic communications, and volunteer training support. United Way is currently working with the Rutherford County Books from Birth local Board of Directors to ensure community goals are met by the end of the grant funding cycle in 2018.

Meagan Flippin, President and CEO for United Way, said, "Integrating Books from Birth into United Way aligns directly with two of our priority issues in education: school readiness and early grade reading proficiency. Our intent is to increase the number of children receiving books on a monthly basis at their homes in Rutherford County as literacy skills are necessary for children to excel in school and life. Additionally, the Books from Birth program will provide an opportunity for United Way to promote parental engagement from the time of birth and play a greater role in healthy beginnings."

An East Tennessee research study shows that of third graders who had participated in the Imagination Library program in the spring of 2012, 56% scored proficient in TCAP Reading/Language, whereas, only 48% of non-participants scored proficient in TCAP Reading/Language. Children who participate in the Imagination Library program are more likely to score higher on literacy assessments, even into the third grade.

Mitch Federman, former Board Chair for the Rutherford County Books from Birth, said, "Rutherford Books from Birth is extremely excited to become part of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties' team. As our program has expanded over the last few years we have recognized the need for the program to be run with more of a full time focus in order to strive towards our mission of providing free books to every child under the age of 5 in Rutherford County. United Way not only gives us the professionalism and full time focus this program needs, but it also offers and supports complimentary programs like Read to Succeed and Success by Six."

For more information on Books from Birth, visit www.yourlocaluw.org/rutherford-books-birth.