Effective July 1, 2017, Books from Birth merged to become Porter-Leath’s newest program. Books from Birth (BfB), an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, currently provides age-appropriate books for nearly 70% of Shelby County children under age five. Children receiving books will not see a change in service, and all parents can continue enrolling their young children.
Last week GBBF President Theresa Carl and GBBF Vice President Dean Hoskins attended an event to announce the launch of this merger.
“We have admired the tremendous impact and measurable outcomes of Books from Birth,” said Sean Lee, Porter-Leath President. “Combining it with Porter-Leath’s back office support and outreach capabilities, we expect the program to continue to grow and thrive as a universal intervention ensuring every child enters Kindergarten ready to learn.”
The Books from Birth Board of Directors will transition into an Advisory Council with two members serving on Porter-Leath’s governing board. “Both organizations share a common vision of providing high-quality service for young children and their families,” said Carol Seamons, Books from Birth Board Chair. “Our leadership looks to continue growing Imagination Library enrollment and expanding opportunities for early literacy in Shelby County.”
As part of the Porter-Leath family, Books from Birth staff will continue raising funds for early literacy programming. Through the continued support of local donors and in partnership with the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), the program will remain at no cost to enrolled families.
“Nearly twenty percent of children enrolled in Tennessee’s Imagination Library live in Shelby County,” said Tennessee First Lady and Memphis native, Crissy Haslam. “I am grateful for Books from Birth’s continuing efforts to prepare young children for success in school and a lifetime of learning as they transition to a new home at Porter-Leath.”
“Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is proud to be the major funding partner for this program,” said Theresa Carl, GBBF President. “We know that BfB will continue to thrive as a program of Porter-Leath, impacting even more of Shelby County’s young children and families.”
Robert Fockler, President of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, sees the benefit of joining the two organizations. “This merger takes advantage of the strengths of both organizations. Books from Birth’s staff can focus on putting books in the hands of every pre-school age child in Shelby County, and Porter-Leath — already one of the best-managed agencies in our region — can provide the strong guidance and back office that comes from being the leader in services to our children. It will make both efforts stronger,” he states.
Whether it is providing proven preschool education, supporting families with holistic wrap around services, or delivering age-appropriate books to a child, both organizations agree that layered investments in early childhood bring the greatest return to Memphis and Shelby County.