September 26, 2023
CONTACT: Paige Melton OFFICE: 318-698-4033 EMAIL: paige@unitedwaynwla.org

(Shreveport, LA) – In support of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the International Paper Foundation in partnership with International Paper Mansfield Mill and a $5,000 sponsorship from Community Bank of Louisiana. These funds will renew the Imagination Library in DeSoto Parish and allow additional children to enroll in the program, sponsoring 500 children in the region. 

Studies show that 50 percent of children in Northwest Louisiana enter kindergarten without the tools they need to be successful in school and later in life. As the largest provider in the state, UWNWLA enables the Imagination Library to mail a new, age-appropriate book each month to children’s homes at zero cost to the children’s families. Children can be enrolled in the program at birth and own a library of up to 60 books by the time they enter kindergarten, ensuring they have the proper tools for school readiness.  

“At International Paper Mansfield Mill, we embrace the opportunity to be community partners, particularly when it comes to educating the children in the communities where we live and work, “ said Paula Wood, International Paper Mansfield Mill Manager. “By being heavily involved in United Way programs such as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, we’re helping youngsters plant seeds of opportunity.” 

The Imagination Library provides access to books for children in families identified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE represents the growing number of individuals and families who work hard but are still unable to afford their essential needs. The children of ALICE are especially affected when it comes to the lack of books in their homes because books are often viewed as a luxury when other family necessities are going unmet.  

“Community Bank of Louisiana is proud to support United Way and their Imagination Library,” said Jayce Simpson, Community Bank of Louisiana President & CEO. “All children should have access to books that help their continued growth and develop their imagination. The Imagination Library puts these books into the kids’ hands when they may not have access to them otherwise. This type of continued enrichment into our community’s children is at the heart of what we stand for at Community Bank.”  

“We express our deepest gratitude to the International Paper Foundation and Community Bank of Louisiana for the wonderful opportunity to collaborate in our shared commitment to promoting literacy among our children in DeSoto Parish,” said Raavin Evans, UWNWLA Director of Community Impact. “The support of these two entities has not only broadened our outreach, but it has also enabled our organization to raise greater awareness around our mission to enhance language and literacy development. International Paper Foundation and Community Bank of Louisiana stand as beacons of hope, striving to ensure that every student can pick up a book anywhere in their community and comprehend the words on its pages.” 

To learn more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, become a sponsor, or register your child, please visit https://unitedwaynwla.org/our-focus/education/dolly-partons-imagination-library/.