Amazon Invests In Early Childhood Literacy With $6,250 Donation Benefiting "Project Ready For School"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The United Way of Greater Chattanooga thanked Amazon – the world’s largest online retailer and a statewide partner of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) – for the recent $6,250 contribution to its “Project Ready for School” program at an event on Tuesday hosted by the Chambliss Center for Children.

The gift was one-fourth of Amazon’s total donation to the GBBF ($25,000), which was distributed evenly among the four counties where Amazon has fulfillment centers – Bradley, Hamilton, Rutherford and Wilson – and used to provide free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to preschool children (up to 5 years old) living in those areas. Eva Dillard, CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga, thanked Amazon for its generosity, citing the tremendous impact the gift will make in the local community.

“Amazon’s donation to the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation demonstrates a huge commitment to local communities and to United Way of Greater Chattanooga in support of early childhood education in our community,” said Ms. Dillard. “Project Ready for School and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are key components in our work in education – early childhood literacy is a major steppingstone on the path to education success and high school graduation. Support from Amazon and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation will enable United Way of Greater Chattanooga to provide more books to children in our communities. Reading to children is the best way to build the vocabulary they need to succeed in school.”

The company known for shipping its distinctive packages to consumers’ doorsteps is helping the GBBF and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library put books in the mailboxes of Tennessee’s youngest readers.

“As the world’s leading online retailer, Amazon has become virtually synonymous with ‘books,’ and its generous gift of $25,000 only strengthens that association,” said Theresa Carl, GBBF president. “We are truly grateful to Amazon for its commitment to ensuring that free books reach preschool children and investing in their growth and development.”

Mike Thomas, general manager of Amazon’s Chattanooga Fulfillment Center, was on hand to read a book to a class of preschoolers, where he expressed his company’s continuing support for the cause of early childhood literacy.

“Amazon is thrilled to partner with the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation by supporting its mission of making sure children have books available at home,” Mr. Thomas said. “Reading is so important in the development and growth of children. The Imagination Library program allows Amazon to make a difference in the lives of so many young Tennesseans, which is humbling and gratifying.” 

All of Tennessee’s 408,000 children under age five have access to the Imagination Library, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state. Begun by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tn., the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to families, regardless of income. Nearly 18 million books have been delivered since the GBBF’s inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors and small businesses, and a host of corporate sponsors, the GBBF matches ($12 per book, per child) all funds raised by each of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program affiliates – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S.

Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties.

An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home. Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive to kindergarten more prepared to learn than nonparticipants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January of this year, a team of researchers concluded that reading to a child in an interactive style can raise the child’s IQ by as much as six points.

Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later. In a recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute, research showed that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.

“The benefit of putting books in the hands of Tennessee’s preschoolers is truly immeasurable,” Ms. Carl said.


Chattanooga Business Calendar Aug. 30 - Sept. 6

Tuesday, Sept. 2 Member Orientation 8 to 9:30 a.m. Chamber Board Room: 811 Broad St. Learn more about how the Chamber can benefit you and your business. For members and non-members. Free. Light breakfast. Tuesday, Sept. 2 Ribbon Cutting for Gander Mountain     9 a.m. Gander Mountain: 5756 Highway 153 Join the Chattanooga Chamber ... (click for more)

Dr. Shih-Lung Shaw To Speak At International Business Council Meeting

Dr. Shih-Lung Shaw, director of Confucius Institute and professor of geography at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, will discuss the UT Confucius Institute: Enhancing the Learning of Chinese Language and Culture at the International Business Council’s upcoming meeting on Thursday, from 5:30–7 p.m. at The INCubator, at 100 Cherokee Blvd. International Business Council ... (click for more)

General Motors To Invest $185 Million In Engine Plant, Build New Cadillac SRX In Spring Hill

General Motors will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex, officials said Wednesday.  GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill. “We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Governor Bill Haslam ... (click for more)

Concurrent Grand Jury Says Mental Health Court Is On The Way

Members of the Concurrent Grand Jury said in a final report they have been advised that a Mental Health Court is on the way. The report says: "We were pleased to hear from some of our Judges that a mental health court is in the works. As stated in past reports, the need to have such a court is very clear. "We feel it would serve to break the cycle of arrest to those who are ... (click for more)

Vote No On Health Insurance Changes Affecting County Teachers

Our Hamilton County School Board will vote on insurance changes effecting both active employees and retirees, who are not on Medicare at this time.  HCEA strongly objects to changes being made at this time and urges a “No” vote.  Insurance had been frozen three years by negotiations.  Since the Educators Professional Negotiations Act was nullified by the 2011 Legislature, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)