A dollar-for-dollar matching grant of up to $12,000 was announced June 20 to support the Lorain County Imagination Library.
If fulfilled, Community Foundation of Lorain County grant would provide up to $1,000 books per month to kids all across the county who live in “book deserts.”
Those are areas where there are few books for sale, affording kids little opportunity to actually own them. While libraries may provide crucial access to books, researchers say there are huge literacy benefits in owning them.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was established in 1995 to benefit young children living in eastern Tennessee. Since then it has expanded worldwide and has mailed more than 104 million books to children.
The Stocker Foundation supported a county-wide launch of the Imagination Library last July. While the program is free for families and children to participate in, running the program costs about $25 per child each year.
Open to all children from birth to age five, children who are registered with the Lorain County Imagination Library will receive a brand new book each month, mailed directly to their home at no-cost, regardless of income.
If a parent were to sign up their child at birth, they would enter kindergarten with an at-home library of 60 books.
In Lorain County, approximately 17,000 children are currently eligible to participate. According to the Global Book Desert Map from Unite for Literacy, it is estimated only 33 percent of homes in Lorain County have more than 100 books.
The matching grant is made possible by a contribution from the Pat Lindley Charitable Fund, which was created in 2010 to honor the community leader and longtime director of the Herrick Memorial Library in Wellington. Lindley also served on the board of directors of the Community Foundation.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to honor the life and legacy of Pat Lindley. This program helps all children to be ready to learn and ready to read when they enter school, and helps to sustain their literacy skills through breaks in the school year once children are of school age,” said Cynthia Andrews, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, in her remarks at the annual meeting.
The Community Foundation also holds the Lorain County Imagination Library Fund, created to accept donations from the public in support of the Library’s operations, including the cost of purchasing books.
Anyone can donate to support the challenge grant at www.loraincountyimaginationlibrary.org/donate.