United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties is committed to supporting learning, development and a sense of belonging for children and youth so that they become responsible and contributing adults. We want to ensure children have positive developmental opportunities so that they can start school ready to succeed. We want to grow success in learning and in life.

Studies show that when kids are given regular “lap-time,” not “laptop” time, but time spent reading books before kindergarten their vocabulary can reach 10,000 words before age 5. For a child who hasn’t had this experience, their vocabulary is about 3,000 words. As a community we must level this playing field.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library in partnership with United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties provide one book each month to children from birth to age 5 who live in participating communities and whose parents register to receive them. These sturdy, colorful, age appropriate books are delivered directly to the child. Each book is selected for the developmental benefits it brings and for the fun! There is no cost to the family.

Currently, our local United Way serves 1,286 children in our communities through the Imagination Library program, and a total of 2,718 have graduated from the program!

One child per household living in Goodhue and Wabasha Counties in Minnesota and children in Western Pierce County Wisconsin that is age birth up to five is eligible to receive books. If you are a Pierce County resident, please contact our office to find out if the program is provided to your city. We are currently serving at program capacity, therefore you may be put on a short waiting list.  As children graduate from the program, we will be able to admit new children.

Important Notice as of Fall of 2018:

United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties’ (UW-GWP) stated Education Goal is: “Promoting successful development of all young people in our community
(Including early childhood education, kindergarten readiness, social and emotional development, graduation preparedness, and career readiness).

For the past ten years Imagination Library has been the initiative we have participated in to make an impact on kindergarten readiness throughout our service area. It is a popular program with over 1200 local children currently receiving books each month.

As stewards of the funds that donors entrust to us each year, it is our duty to assess the impact of each program United Way offers. In 2019 our staff, board members and community volunteers will:
• Assess the impact of Imagination Library participation on kindergarten readiness
• Research existing initiatives having successful impact on kindergarten readiness
• Listen to early childhood experts and educators on how to best impact families whose children might not be prepared to start school.
• Decide how the funds allocated to the focus area of Early Childhood Education will best impact those children and families most in need.

To that end, United Way GWP is not accepting new registrations for Imagination Library at this time or throughout 2019. This will not impact children who are currently enrolled and receiving books. They will continue to receive a book by mail each month.

It is our responsibility to use the gifts our donors share to make the greatest impact within the communities we serve. We will use this time to ensure we live up to that responsibility. We look forward to the opportunity to continue our work on kindergarten readiness and will keep you posted when final decisions are reached. In the meantime please keep reading to your child. Reading aloud benefits children in many ways:
• Builds motivation, curiosity and memory.
• Helps children cope during times of stress or anxiety.
• Take children to places and times they have never been – enlarging and enhancing their worlds.
• Creates a positive association with books and reading.

The public libraries have excellent selections and free programs. Several local libraries, Red Wing, Lake City and Zumbrota each participate in our 1000 Books before Kindergarten Program. For more information visit your local library.
We thank you for your understanding.

If you would like to donate, United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties appreciates donations to offset costs of the Imagination Library program.  The local cost of the program is $40.00 per child per year. There is no charge or fee or donation required or expected for enrollment.