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Governor Kelly Signs Bipartisan Bill Allowing Private Funds to Support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

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By the Kansas Office of the Governor

 

TOPEKA, Kan. (March 15, 2024) — Governor Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 195, authorizing the Kansas Children’s Cabinet to establish a nonprofit corporation to receive donations, gifts, grants, and engage in fundraising activities for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

“Strengthening children’s literacy skills and ensuring parents can access these resources is crucial to early childhood development,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We know that children’s earliest years shape their academic and social outcomes for the rest of their lives. I’m proud to sign this bill to expand the reach of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and equip more Kansas families with books.”

Governor Kelly announced in July that every child aged 0-5 in Kansas is now eligible to participate in the program to receive one free, high-quality, age-appropriate book per month until their fifth birthday. In August, Governor Kelly welcomed Dolly Parton to Kansas to celebrate the statewide expansion of her Imagination Library program.

“Well Kansas, we did it! Let’s celebrate by registering as many children and families as we can to receive the gift of Imagination Library books right to their home each month,” said Dolly Parton. “Together, we can inspire children across Kansas to love books and reading, and that’s a gift that will last a lifetime.”

The statewide expansion was made possible through increased funding provided to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund by Governor Kelly and the Kansas Legislature last year. Allowing private donations to the book gifting program will expand its reach to promote reading in Kansas and positively impact early childhood development and literacy skills.

“The Kansas Children’s Cabinet has been delighted to serve as statewide lead for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. To date, our focus has been on ensuring full statewide coverage for all Kansas families,” said Melissa Rooker, Executive Director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. “We are excited to take the next step so that we can fully engage with the private sector and fundraise to ensure the longevity and sustainability of this worthwhile program.”

As of March 1, 2024, 74,720 Kansas children are enrolled in the program. Since Governor Kelly announced the statewide expansion of the program last July, nearly 26,000 more children have been enrolled. Parents can enroll children in the Imagination Library of Kansas here.

“Reading is the single most effective way to open a world of opportunity for our children. Having three sons, all of whom are enrolled in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program, I believe that all children in Kansas should have the same opportunity to join the Dolly Parton Imagination Library as my sons have,” said Representative Troy Waymaster, House District 109. “I personally have seen the impact of this program, and this is a win for Kansas.  I also thank Senator J.R. Claeys for his help and leadership in this endeavor in the State Senate regarding this matter.  I’m confident that allowing the program to raise private funds will increase access to books and instill the joy of reading in many more young Kansans.”