Nissan Grants $100,000 to Governor's Early Literacy Foundation

September 9, 2020

Nissan North America deepened its investment in and commitment to early literacy in Tennessee by granting $100,000 to Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), benefiting Imagination Library programs in Middle Tennessee where Nissan has facilities. Nissan has contributed over $1.5 million to GELF since 2005. In honor of Tennessee’s Early Literacy Month in September, Nissan and GELF celebrated this giving milestone and grant award with a virtual check presentation.

The donated funds will be used to provide age-appropriate books each month to preschool children who are enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library programs in Davidson, Franklin, Rutherford and Williamson counties—the four counties where Nissan has operational facilities in the state. Since 2005, Nissan’s support has helped send a year of Imagination Library books to over 116,000+ children.

“Early literacy plays a key role in educational success and workforce readiness, giving our children and our communities the opportunity for a bright future,” said Parul Bajaj, Senior Manager, Philanthropy, Nissan North America. “Nissan is proud to partner with Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation and their efforts to strengthen early literacy through programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.”

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) strengthens early literacy in Tennessee by sustaining early literacy programs for children statewide, including Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Storybook Trails, Book Buses, Caregiver Engagement and K-3 Summer Reading. With vital financial support from the Tennessee General Assembly and corporate sponsors, GELF funds half of the cost of Imagination Library books for enrolled children statewide, supporting grassroots organizers in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as they raise the other half of the cost of books for enrolled children in their county.

Since 2004, GELF has distributed more than 40 million Imagination Library books statewide to preschool-aged children in Tennessee. Currently, more than 286,000 children receive books each month.

“We know that together we can help ensure a prosperous Tennessee by providing children with the resources, guidance and support they need to become lifelong learners, from cradle to career,” said James Pond, President of GELF. “Thank you to Nissan for their generous, continued support in helping provide the early exposure to books and literacy skills that are critical for a child’s development, educational journey and success in life.”

Less than half of Tennessee third graders read proficiently. Third grade reading proficiency is the benchmark where children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” a key indicator for future educational success and workforce readiness. Literacy programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library lead to early language development, school readiness and higher educational outcomes through the 5th grade.

Nissan’s award is being presented during Early Literacy Month in Tennessee, held each September to raise awareness of early literacy efforts and their impact statewide. In honor of this celebration, GELF is hosting a #TeamReadTN social media challenge, encouraging Tennesseans to join their “Team Read” and help build a lifelong playbook for Tennessee by posting the book or person who sparked their love of learning on social media.