In 2005, Allegan County United Way and the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) partnered to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children in Allegan County. The 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.
For the past 13 years United Way has funded the program, and last year, AAESA stepped up to provide staff to manage registrations and maintain the data base in true collaborative spirit. Over time, the program has grown beyond all expectations, serving more than 50% of all Allegan children under five years old. The cost to provide this program to the number of children registered grew to outweigh United Way’s ability to financially support all of the agencies that rely on annual United Way funds and Imagination Library. So the search began for ways to continue the program by reaching out to potential sponsors and supporters.
Bill Brown, Superintendent of AAESA, said “To have kids reading at the appropriate level by the end of third grade must be a priority for our community. 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.”
After several meetings and discussions, the Gun Lake Casino has stepped in as the title sponsor to keep Imagination Library available for all kids in our community. Without their support, Imagination Library would no longer have been able to continue operating. The sponsorship begins with a one-year $100,000 commitment and has potential to continue down the road. “Gun Lake Casino strives to be an active partner in the community,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for Gun Lake 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 learn more about the Imagination Library program, please visit www.acuw.org/imagination-library.