An international committee, with the help of Penguin Group USA, selected the book titles to ensure that every child gets the best books possible. Every book delivered to a child’s home, is the collective result of many individual efforts from the person who hands out a registration form to the person who enters a child’s information into the database.
Communities across the nation represent thousands of local organizations, combining the generosity of donors, corporate sponsors and early childhood literacy supporters to make a difference. In 2005, we saw more local school systems and civic organizations come aboard Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The United Way continued to be an important partner in the ongoing network as they connected local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, Success by 6 strategies, and members of the educational community.
Imagination Library's first venture into a statewide program across Tennessee was led by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and included all Tennessee counties.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library celebrated another year of exponential growth. The number of communities soared from 385 to 566 and the total number of books given for the year virtually doubled to 1.9 million. In December, the total number of children enrolled in the program crossed the 200,000 threshold.
On December 13, 2002, Dolly gathered several special guests and important district leaders together in Pigeon Forge, to announce that preschoolers in 92 Native American communities would become recipients of Imagination Library books.
In September,10 United Way organizations in South Dakota launched a united effort to provide the Imagination Library to every eligible child in the state. The effort was launched under the leadership of the Sioux Empire United Way. The Sioux expansion was part of a larger national expansion of Dolly's Imagination Library throughout Native Communities across the nation. The Ferst Books Foundation began to mail books within 8 communities in Georgia and set a goal to reach every native child in Georgia. In Dolly’s home state of Tennessee, a statewide development strategy was also put into place.
On a national level, the sponsorship from the Bureau of Indian Affairs marked a new partnership with the federal government. Once again, there was evidence that this type of partnership would create other federally funded efforts. Education foundations, community organizations, civic groups, non-profits, local businesses and Chambers of Commerce decided to become a part of this endeavor.
This news confirmed an extraordinary year of growth for all. At the end of 2002, there were exactly 185 communities committed to the program and for the first time, the actual number of children receiving a book each month exceeded 30,000!
In 2001, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library saw program expansion with 27 affiliates operating in 11 states across the nation. Local sponsors around the country came forward to support the program's expansion, including Spartanburg, Sioux Falls and Sioux City, which seeded the program within their United Way organizations. These new communities mailed books to almost 30,000 children under the age of five, proving that dreams really do come true.
National Networks such as Parents as Teachers, Public Libraries and school systems were also extremely active in promoting the program's epxnasion for immediate exposure as well as future endeavors. Further financial support came from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that provided a significant grant to help The Dollywood Foundation design a research project to assess the impact of the program on families and their participating communities.