The Dream Fund selected the Story Starters project- a collaboration between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Beanstalk and LuCid at the University of Liverpool to receive £1 Million ($1.2 Million).
The funding announcement was made on 24th January at People’s Postcode Lottery’s annual Charity Gala, held in Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House. The event was a celebration of the £66.3 million awarded to charities in 2016 thanks to players of the charity lottery.
Ambassador Jeff Brazier and Managing Director/Head of Marketing for People’s Postcode Lottery UK, Lorna Menzies presented the check to the Regional Director of the Imagination Library UK- Kirsteen Watson, CEO of Beanstalk- Ginny Lunn, and Deputy Director of LuCiD- Professor Julian Pine.
The funding will result in the recruitment and training of 600 Story Starter volunteers to give one-to-one support, with high-quality books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to 1,800 children between 3 and 5 years old, creating an innovative approach to learning. LuCid will carry out expert education evaluation. If successful, the programme will be rolled out to 15,000 children over the next 5 years. Dolly Parton said,
"It seems only right that dreamers like us have been acknowledged by the Dream Fund! I am so grateful for their confidence in our partnership and I promise we will do everything in our power to make sure our children's
dreams do come true."
The Dollywood Foundation UK was one of several organizations who were recognized by the Dream Fund whose offerings totaled £2.5 million in 2017. Charitable organizations in Great Britain (Scotland, England or Wales) were eligible to apply. According to the Dream Fund website applicants are encouraged to be “innovative, creative and original, and present projects that are a genuine ‘dream’.” Previous winners have included Building Our Dreams, Edible Playgrounds and Energy Gardens.
With thanks to North Lincolnshire Council & East Coast Pictures for some of the footage in this film.
Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends over one million free books to registered children living in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the UK alone, there are over 90 local champions who help make this dream possible. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Imagination Library’s launch in the United Kingdom.
Special thanks to Beanstalk and LuCiD for partnering with the Imagination Library in this effort. Also, thank you to People's Postcode Lottery.
Beanstalk is a national charity that provides one-to-one literacy support to children who struggle with their reading ability and confidence.
The ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) is a five-year research collaboration working with partners from across the world to transform our understanding of how children learn to communicate with language.
Each year, the esteemed Book Selection Committee, a specially selected panel of early childhood literacy experts, is responsible for reviewing hundreds of potential titles for inclusion in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. With the new year’s list curated, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is proud to announce the Australian Book List (Australia), the Gold Medal Book Selections (United Kingdom) and the Blue Ribbon Book Selections (United States & Canada). When asked about this year's selections Dolly said,
“My commitment to kids has always been to deliver the very best books right to their doorstep and last year we put over 9 million books in the hands of children and their families. Of course, none of this would be possible without the contributions of these talented authors, illustrators and the hundreds of local partners who love kids as much as I do.”
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has become the premiere early childhood book gifting program in the world by mailing over 66 million books in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Currently the program mails over 820,000 specially selected, age-appropriate books monthly to registered children from birth to age five.
In 2015, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library will mail over 9.5 million books to hundreds of thousands of children across four countries. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library program is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development.
In the summer of 2014, Dolly performed at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. When she took to the Pyramid stage, it was said that all the other stages were empty and even the performers were likely gathered to see her concert. In a sharp contrast to the famous Glastonbury mud, Dolly greeted her fans in a white rhinestone-covered pants suit.
She sang many of her hits including "Coat of Many Colors," and "9 to 5" while the eager young audience sang along, many wearing blond wigs in admiration. The security staff even choreographed their own moves to "Jolene."
The festival staff had been trying to book Dolly since their very first event back in 1970. However, the timing of her touring schedule did not work out until now. Dolly was excited to perform at Glastonbury and especially admired the large farm that hosts the annual event. She said,
"I'm just a country girl and now I feel like a rock star."
The BBC aired the entire event and made it available on their networks around the world. During the performance, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora joined in on Dolly’s version of "Lay Your Hands On Me." The song appears on Dolly’s album, "Blue Smoke" as a spiritual tune.
Before the event, Dolly received a special presentation marking her total career album sales surpassing 100 million worldwide.
The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is a five-day music and arts event. The festival hosts multiple stages and is set on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, England.
After Canadian families began receiving books each month in 2006, the global expansion of Dolly’s Imagination Library continued in England in 2007. One of the goals of the popular book gifting organization is to create a love of reading in all kids all over the world, as a result, The Dollywood Foundation of the United Kingdom was launched and the Imagination Library was made available to new families in Britain.
Penguin Books UK was named the exclusive publisher for the collection, the Royal Mail was used for monthly deliveries, and a wonderful panel of experts gathered to choose the best selection of book titles.