Grant to Tennessee’s statewide Imagination Library will help eight counties provide books to preschool children
At an event held today at Columbia Head Start Pre-school, Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), thanked the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for its recent $10,000 grant to the GBBF and Tennessee’s statewide Imagination Library. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of the company that operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.
The money will be distributed evenly among eight counties across the state (Bedford, Coffee, Hawkins, Hickman, Johnson, Madison, Maury, and Rutherford) and used to provide free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to preschool children living in those areas – at no cost to families, regardless of income.
“Today’s event was an opportunity to celebrate this wonderful new partnership and publicly express our deep gratitude to the Enterprise Holdings Foundation,” said Carl. “Because of its generosity and commitment, more children across Tennessee will grow up in households with books, more will read on grade level by the third grade, and more will develop a passion for reading that will last a lifetime.”
Robert A. Henson III, business rental sales account manager with Enterprise Holdings, Inc., was on hand to read a book to preschoolers and present a check to the GBBF, expressing the Enterprise Holdings Foundation’s commitment to the cause of early childhood literacy.
“Giving back to our communities is a responsibility that we take seriously,” Henson said. “We are pleased that our support of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation will help give children throughout Tennessee a good start on the path to becoming lifelong readers.”
All of Tennessee’s 408,000 children under age five have access to the Imagination Library, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state. Begun by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. Over 17 million books have been delivered since the GBBF’s inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors, and a host of private corporate sponsors, the GBBF matches ($12 per book, per child) all funds raised by each of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program affiliates – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S. Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties.
An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home. Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive to kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January of this year, a team of researchers concluded that reading to a child in an interactive style can raise the child’s IQ by as much as six points.
Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later. In a recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute, research showed that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.
“The social impact of putting books in the hands of preschoolers is tremendous,” Carl said. “We are grateful to the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for sharing our vision of better educational outcomes for all Tennessee children.”
About Enterprise Holdings
Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates more than 1 million cars and trucks, the largest fleet of passenger vehicles in the world today. Enterprise Holdings is North America’s largest and most comprehensive service provider in the car rental industry, operating the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands. Other affiliated business lines include Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Commercial Trucks, Enterprise Car Sales, Enterprise Rideshare vanpooling and Enterprise CarShare car sharing.