Year in Review 2022
January 1–December 31, 2022
A Letter from the Leader
Every year, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation chooses a guiding word, a concept that directs our focus as an organization throughout the year. Our word in 2022 was refinement. After three years of unprecedented growth (from serving 286k children annually in 2019 to 600k in 2021), we turned our attention to strengthening our programs and elevating how we do them. In 2022, we:
- Began gathering more program-related data to better evaluate impact
- Bolstered our Educator Advisory Council with more structure and oversight responsibilities
- Created and filled a full-time management position for the SELECT initiative
- Streamlined communication among Imagination Library county affiliates and enhanced regional roundtables to support affiliate leadership
- Strengthened relationships with partners and vendors, including establishing an inventory and fulfillment vendor
- Integrated our CRM and accounting software to strengthen stewardship
- Updated our strategic plan (after achieving our last one two years early!)
- Developed an internal calendar of communication campaigns
- Established robust internal processes to ensure staff effectiveness and exemplary stewardship of resources
As any engineer will tell you, refining takes a lot of focused work, but it pays off. With these tools and processes now at our disposal, we are well-positioned to make even more impact toward our mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee…because it all comes back to that. It all comes back to the children we serve, giving them resources and support to strengthen early literacy, because reading enables learning and learning enables lifelong success.
We sincerely thank all the individuals and organizations who make our work possible. Together we are changing lives – one book, one family, and one child at a time!
Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation
The Voices of our Co‑Authors
Tennessee has prioritized historic investments that put students first, ensuring every student has the resources needed to become a strong reader and reach their full potential. The Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is a valuable partner in serving Tennessee’s young learners, and I commend their work.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Throughout its seventeen-year history, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation has built a reputation for putting the early literacy needs of Tennessee children first. Over the past year, having this priority in clear focus has led the Foundation to incredible achievements through programs and initiatives that have reached hundreds of thousands of families. It is my privilege to be a part of this journey, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this responsive, steadily-growing organization.
Dr. Nancy Dishner
GELF Board Chair
56% – Birth–5 Book Delivery
29% – K–3 Home Library
7% – Caregiver Engagement
1% – Book Bus
0.30% – Storybook Trails
0.26% – SELECT & Special Events
Birth–5 Book Delivery
Delivering books each month to children from birth to age five, through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to foster a love of reading at an early age
Birth-5 Book Delivery
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Books Delivered to Date
Books Delivered in 2022
Statewide Enrollment as of Dec 2022
2022 Enrollment Partnership Stats
Books Mailed to Children Enrolled through TN Department of Human Services
Books Mailed to Children Enrolled through TN Department of Children’s Services
K–3 Home Library
Delivering quality books and literacy resources to combat learning loss and support student learning in the home
K–3 Home Library
(formerly K–3 Book Delivery)
I like getting more books for my classroom but mostly for students at home to receive books. Many of our students do not have access to books at home so this is a great program to get books into students’ hands.
A Morgan County Educator
The program is great because my son received different books than he would have normally selected. That exposes him to a larger variety, and helps him hone in on his interests and discover things besides graphic novels to enjoy.
A Robertson County Caregiver
My son really enjoyed these books to the point of requesting more books on his own and wanting to pick them out himself, which is new for us. Thank you for this program!
A Tennessee Parent
Educator Advisory Council
A group of Tennessee educators who serve as a consulting body to help GELF determine the best resources to meet the literacy needs of K–3 students across Tennessee
Educator Advisory Council
School Districts in which Members Serve
Total Years of Experience
Equipping caregivers to be deeply engaged as a child’s first teacher
School Districts & Charter Schools
It helps me tremendously with my 7-year-old son. We need tricks to keep him learning. Your texts offer that!!! Please keep them coming.
A McMinn County Caregiver
I appreciate the encouragement and timing; I don’t have to wait for someone else to teach; I can take the initiative to teach and gain satisfaction by sitting back and thinking, “I taught him that!”
A Johnson County Parent
Establishing mobile libraries to provide children and communities with access to high-quality literacy resources
Newly Supported Buses in 2022
While exploring books, a soon-to-be kindergartener found a one about motor vehicles and pulled me onto the floor to tell me everything he knew about them. Seeing him smile as he, a 4-or 5-year-old, was able to teach me, a 27-year-old, something new was priceless.
A Unicoi County Educator
Mrs. Mary (Book Bus Aide) helped me find the books I like. She even saved other books from the same series for my brother and I. We can’t always check out the whole series in the library at school, and now they are ours.
A Tennessee Student
Collaborating to create outdoor reading experiences where families interact through literacy and physical activity
My girls love Storybook Trails! We love reading and the outdoors, so it’s a perfect activity for our family. It’s a great way to read a story and burn off a little energy at the same time. I also really appreciate that it’s something that both my 4 year old and my 1.5 year old can enjoy.
A Nashville Parent
Statewide Early Literacy Education Collaborative of Tennessee
A collaborative conversation for Tennessee’s early literacy leaders to explore, learn, and connect around a shared vision to build a brighter future for children
reported gathering with this group valuable
I loved hearing what groups and individuals in the other parts of the state are doing. It helped me to think of ways that we are or aren’t supporting literacy in our region. It gave me ideas of things we can or need to do. It also made me realize that in other parts of the state there is an organization that is especially the “champion” of literacy. I don’t think we have that in the 1st congressional district. We are doing things but they are disjointed rather than to achieve a common goal. I believe we are headed in that direction…as we begin to have a more focused effort. This event really inspired and invigorated me!
East Tennessee State University
Thank You to Our Corporate Partners!
Our Governor’s Circle partners help us address key literacy needs to build lifelong learners statewide.
Thank You to Our Storyteller Society!
Individuals inspiring the literacy legacy for Tennessee’s next generation
- Burton Jablin
Individuals writing Tennessee’s early literacy story
- Mark and Cathy Cate
- Margaret F. Rappaport
Individuals bringing the vision for early literacy in Tennessee to life
- Gregory and Brenda Duckett
- Andrea Willis, M.D.
Individuals empowering literacy and lifelong learning
- Nancy and Harold Dishner
- Carol and Howard Kirshner
- Susan and Richard Mattson
- Phil Wenk, M.D.
Board Chair (2021)
Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy
Dollar General Corporation
Board Vice Chair (2021)
Senior Manager Philanthropy
Nissan North America
Dr. Nancy Disher
Board Secretary (2021)
President & CEO
Chief Financial Officer
Delta Dental of Tennessee
Gregory M. Duckett
Senior Vice President
& Chief Legal Officer
Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation
Judge Brandon Gibson
Office of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
State of Tennessee
Danielle Whitworth Barnes
Ernst & Young, LLP