Press release from Nissan North America via PRNewswire; July 2, 2012;
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam was on hand to say “thank you” today to Nissan North America – a major corporate statewide sponsor of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) – at an event held at Glen Leven Day School in Nashville. Nissan North America contributed $100,000 to the GBBF for the fiscal year ending July 2012, furthering the company’s legacy of commitment to the cause of early childhood literacy in Middle Tennessee.
Since the inception of the GBBF in 2005, Nissan North America has provided grants totaling over $700,000 to the non-profit foundation. The donated funds are used to provide free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to preschool children enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Davidson, Franklin, Rutherford and Williamson counties. By fostering a love of learning and reading, the program helps registered children develop their vocabularies and boost their school readiness.
“Nissan North America is an important partner for the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation,” said Mrs. Haslam. “The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and its partners play a critical role in creating opportunity for parents, grandparents and families in Tennessee to connect with their children through books and to lay a strong foundation for children to be ready for school.”
The generous contributions are part of Nissan’s commitment to investing in communities where its employees live and work.
“Nissan is committed to supporting education, beginning with the youngest learners,” said Scott Becker, Nissan senior vice president of administration and finance. “Through reading, children develop curiosity, creativity and communication skills that will serve them well throughout their school years. Nissan is proud to support Tennessee’s Imagination Library, which helps to prepare children for a lifetime of learning.”
All of the state’s 407,000 children under age five have access to the Imagination Library. Created by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails a new, age-appropriate, high-quality book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to the family and regardless of income. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in each Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the GBBF. To date, over 15 million books have been delivered since the program began in October 2004.
“Tennessee is fortunate to have statewide participation in all 95 counties in the Imagination Library programs, a fact we take great pride in and celebrate,” said Theresa Carl, GBBF president. “Thanks in large part to Nissan’s generous and ongoing support, over 2.6 million books have been distributed in Davidson, Franklin, Rutherford and Williamson Counties since the program began in 2005.”
An increasing amount of research supports the idea that children who grow up around books typically achieve better educational outcomes in school.
“The early development of reading skills is so important for children,” said Becker. “The Imagination Library and other literacy programs have long-term benefits on children’s lives, connecting them to the world around them and opening doors to future opportunities.”
Currently, 44 percent of Tennessee third graders are reading on grade level. 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 Books from Birth 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,” Carl said. “We are grateful to Nissan for investing in the future of our children, our state and – ultimately – our world.”