(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – The United Way of Tuscarawas County is a local affiliate for the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library in partnership with the nationally recognized Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
In July 2019, the Ohio legislature included $5 million over the course of the next two years to jump-start the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library by providing matching funds to local initiatives. The Ohio Governor’s office asked the United Way of Tuscarawas County to be the affiliate partner for the County, which the board enthusiastically agreed to. “Few investments make a greater impact than those that support literacy and early childhood education, both of which can have tremendous implications for lifelong wellbeing,” explained United Way of Tuscarawas County President Robin Waltz. “Our decision to invest in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is a direct reflection of our belief in the importance of education and literacy. In many ways, this sort of investment can be considered a long-term strategy for helping to build our workforce of the future.”
Developing literacy begins at birth. By the age of three, a child’s brain is already 80% developed, and, by the time a child enters kindergarten, they must already know thousands of words to succeed in the classroom. Research has shown that a child with 25 books in their home completes an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library works to send every child in Ohio from birth to age five a new book each month at no cost to the family. As of December 2020, there were 2,017 children enrolled in the program in Tuscarawas County doubling the county’s first year goal bringing the current enrollment to 40%.
“We enrolled Eliza in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library as soon as it was available to Tuscarawas County residents. Having this program available to local families is such a blessing and the United Way is such a huge part of bringing this program to us. It’s always an exciting day when our new book arrives each month, and it’s nice for mom and dad to have some different reading material to add to the rotation.” Kait Gallagher-Wilsterman, Tuscarawas County mother.
The United Way is partnering with the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition in promoting this program. All donor dollars and the Governor’s match go directly to purchasing books for the program. The cost of the program is $25 per child per year. The United Way covers administration costs.
To sustain and support this program donations can be made by mail to the United Way of Tuscarawas County, PO Box 525, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663. To enroll in the program, visit tuscunitedway.org.