United Way Encourages New Britain Families to Enroll in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Feb.22, 2024

Hartford, Conn. (Feb.22, 2024) — United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, the City of New Britain and nonprofit community partners came together today to raise awareness about the ability for local families to sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library at an enrollment event at New Britain Public Library. This program provides free age-appropriate books sent by mail every month to children from birth through age five.   

“Fostering a love of reading in our children is so important for their development and future. Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, United Way is closing literacy gaps and creating opportunities for children,” said Eric Harrison, President and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “This initiative will help families build a home library of 60 books for their children, enrolled at birth by the time they start kindergarten at no cost to them,” added Harrison. 

United Way launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Hartford in 2020; and today, thousands of children under age five are enrolled in the program. United Way’s efforts to expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library beyond Hartford was supported by a federal appropriation secured by U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes in 2023, opening doors for the program in New Britain. 

“Since announcing the program last year, more than 300 New Britain children have enrolled. This is a testament to how deeply impactful federal funding can be in creating avenues for the long-term success of children in Connecticut. I selected the program as one of my Community Project requests because of its family focused approach to school readiness and literacy. Setting time aside for daily reading creates consistency and a sense of stability children need to grow. It is imperative we make that process easier. The time to start investing in the literacy of children starts at birth,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. 

“The goal is to enroll nearly 2,000 children here in New Britain in the next six months. We are working in collaboration with great partners to make sure we accomplish this goal for the benefit of this community,” added Harrison.  

New Britain Public Library, Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc., YWCA New Britain, New Britain-Berlin YMCA, New Britain School Readiness Council, Consolidated School District of New Britain, New Britain Housing Authority, Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut and Community Health Center are some of the implementation partners in the city. 

We have no doubt about the positive impact this program will have on our children. Their success is ours, which is why we welcome Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with great pleasure into our city. We are thankful to United Way and all the organizations working together to make sure our city’s youngest can benefit from this opportunity,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.  

“Readiness can directly impact a child’s future success. Programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library help ensure our youth are hitting critical milestones before they step into a classroom. Research shows that students who read at grade-level by the start of 4th grade are more likely to finish high school on time prepared for college or career,” added Christopher Badenhop, School Readiness Liaison

The enrollment event precedes National Volunteer Month and Read Across America Day, both of which provide great opportunities for people interested in volunteering in the communities where they live and work. To learn more about enrolling children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in New Britain or to sign up for a volunteer opportunity, visit unitedwayinc.org


About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut     
United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and find long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that children succeed in school, people get jobs and are financially secure, people are healthy and basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit unitedwayinc.org.     

Media Contact: Anyeline Céspedes López | United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut   | acespedes@unitedwayinc.org | 787.502.0436