United Way receives funding for Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Washington Parish 



IP Foundation donates $10,000 to provide books each month to local children for the first five years of life 


BOGALUSA, LA – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) announced Thursday the launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in Washington Parish thanks to a $10,000 grant from the International Paper Foundation.   


“The Bogalusa Mill is excited to help bring this program to the children of Washington Parish,” said Scott Dinkel, Mill Manager, International Paper (IP). “Literacy – especially from birth to grade three - is a primary focus of IP giving, because reading skills form the foundation for all childhood learning. We’re glad to help put books in the hands of the youngest children in our community.” 

The Imagination Library provides new, age-appropriate books to children by mail each month for the first five years of their lives for free, regardless of their family’s income. The program launched in 1995 and has promoted early childhood literacy across the world by helping children become reading ready as they enter kindergarten. 

A parent or guardian must register their children online to receive the books. Registered children will begin receiving books at their home addresses in three to four months once approved. 

UWSELA will administer the program with the help of community partners and early child care centers, targeting vulnerable households. Census data shows there are 2,936 eligible children aged from birth to five years in Washington Parish. UWSELA aims to register 65% of these children, a task made easier through the new Imagination Library of Louisiana Fund, which will provide a 50% match of IP’s grant over three years. 

“The dedication of International Paper to expand this program in Washington Parish highlights their commitment to education as a cornerstone of building an equitable community,” stated Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “It is essential for us to collaborate as individuals, businesses, government and education partners to extend educational opportunities for our youngest residents. Partnering with DPIL is one of the ways we promote academic success while enriching children's lives through the magic of storytelling.” 

The program encourages caregivers to read with their children, giving them a boost toward a successful education. Research shows a child’s ability to read by the end of third grade is an important predictor of future success. Children who reach this critical milestone are more likely to graduate high school and have higher earnings as adults. 

“This incredible program, championed by the legendary Dolly Parton, brings the magic of books and the power of imagination to children in their homes,” said Malinda White, former Louisiana State Representative and author of the 2023 legislation that created the state’s matching fund. “The Imagination Library not only promotes literacy but also empowers families and strengthens our community. By giving children the tools to explore new worlds through the pages of a book, we are setting them up for a lifetime of learning, creativity and success.” 

UWSELA, the local DPIL program partner, launched the program in 2013 through the support of a communitywide coalition of individuals, businesses, government and literacy professionals. The program’s books are funded through private and corporate local donations.  

In addition to Washinton, DPIL is available in Southeast Louisiana in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Jefferson parishes but registration is closed as the number of participating children has exhausted all funding. UWSELA is searching for corporate partners to launch the program in Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. 

"The Imagination Library is a popular and proven model, but without donor and partner support like our friends at IP, tens of thousands of children will continue to miss out on this opportunity to get a strong start in life,” added Williamson. 

For more details about the program and to register or donate, visit UnitedWaySELA.org/Dolly-Partons-Imagination-Library


About United Way of Southeast Louisiana  

For 100 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.   



About International Paper 

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products, and one of North America's largest recyclers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 39,000 colleagues globally who are committed to creating what's next. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2022 were $21.2 billion. Additional information can be found by visiting www.internationalpaper.com


About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library 

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. The Imagination Library mails more than 2.5 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More®.  

The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com