Imagination Library program to increase school readiness in Oneida County

Linda Allen can’t go any rainy day — or any day — without a book.

Shakespeare, Janet Evanovich or “The New York Times,” it barely matters what she opens. Books have long been her entertainment, knowledge source and most importantly a lifeline to higher learning.

It’s no wonder then that she and her husband Ray — who has a lifetime connection with local education — are behind the implementation of Imagination Library in our region. The program provides
free books each month via the mail to children ages birth to 5. Education is a priority area for The Foundation and Imagination Library fosters a love of reading that can
enhance learning and literacy.

Imagination Library illustrates how The Foundation is investing in programs that will help our community to reach our 25/25 goal of having 25 percent of adults in Oneida and
Herkimer counties obtain bachelor’s degrees by 2025.

The Community Foundation invested $31,340 for the program’s startup while $3,000 was directed from the donor-advised M&T Bank/Partners Trust Bank Charitable Fund. The Fund will invest up to $15,000 in the program over the next five years.

“If it hadn’t been for The Foundation, we never would have been able to get off the ground,” said Linda and Ray, local Rotarians and Foundation donors,
who orchestrated the local launch of Imagination Library this summer.

Founded by country singer Dolly Parton in 1996, Imagination Library is widely regarded in the regions it serves. Studies show substantial benefits linked to participants in the program. Children who are read to in their early years do better in school and those involved in Imagination Library show a 15 percent increase in test scores compared to children who had not been read to before kindergarten. Regions’ Rotaries oversee the programs and provide some funding.

Currently, the local Imagination Library serves zip codes 13502 north of the Barge Canal, 13354, 13304, 13438, 13324, 13416, 13406 or 13431. At this time, the program expects to support 800 children for five years.

For information about programs that help us meet our 25/25 goal, please contact Vice President for Programs & Community Initiatives Barbara Henderson at 735-8212 or bhenderson@foundationhoc.org.