Governor and First Lady Haslam ACCEPT $1 million BlueCross BlueShield Grant for Tennessee’s Imagination Library

For Immediate Release     

March 15, 2016                                                                        


318-286-0933 | [email protected]                                                                               


Governor and First Lady Haslam join Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, to celebrate $1 million grant from BlueCross Blue Shield Tennessee Health Foundation in support of Tennessee’s Imagination Library 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), today at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital to receive a $1 million, four-year grant from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation in support of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee that has now sent over 25 million books to children. The grant will build growth capacity and broaden the reach of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program, ensuring its access to all Tennessee preschool-aged children and their families with the ultimate goal of improving Tennessee’s childhood literacy rates.

“Over the past 11 years, the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and Tennessee’s Imagination Library have made a huge impact on Tennessee’s youngest citizens,” Governor Haslam said. “Because of the remarkable generosity of organizations like Tennessee Health Foundation our children are experiencing the joy of reading books and developing a love of learning that will help ensure their success in school and throughout their lives.”

“The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, through its partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee, promotes literacy, which is a fundamental building block of healthy communities,” J.D. Hickey, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, said. “Reading well from a young age becomes a lifelong benefit. We’re happy to continue our longtime support of this initiative.”

Tennessee Health Foundation was founded in December 2003 to support the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee by awarding grants focused on initiatives that promote healthy living.

The core mission of GBBF is to build a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee’s children. Founded in 2004, GBBF assists all Tennessee preschool children in developing their vocabulary, school readiness, and love of learning and reading by ensuring that high quality, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month directly to their homes, from birth until age five, at no cost to families and regardless of income. GBBF currently mails over 250,000 books to enrolled children statewide.

“Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the time they enter kindergarten. Parents need to know they are their child’s first and most important teacher and that reading is one of the best activities to promote early brain development,” First Lady Haslam said. “Tennessee’s Imagination Library plays an important role in increasing access to books and promoting early literacy for Tennessee children. If we read with children beginning at birth their chances of being successful in school and in life increase significantly.”

The announcement also marks the launch of a newborn enrollment partnership with Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville to introduce Tennessee’s Imagination Library program to parents and families of newborns, emphasizing the benefits of reading with children beginning at birth. Each child enrolled at the hospital will receive a copy of The Little Engine That Could to take home.

“Not only is literacy essential for a child’s fundamental education and future, it also has significant impacts on physical health and well being,” Carl said. “This grant award from Tennessee Health Foundation is truly a key investment that gives our children the opportunity to enroll, receive, and develop a love of books and learning from the moment they enter this world. Our goal is to have partnerships with birthing hospitals like Saint Thomas all across the state of Tennessee so that every child has the chance to grow with a healthy body and a healthy mind.” 

“We’re pleased that Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, where nearly 7,000 babies are born each year, will be presenting families with the first of many books they’ll receive through the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation,” said Karen Springer, President and CEO of Saint Thomas Health.  “This is a remarkable program and, on behalf of all the families served here at Saint Thomas Midtown, we’re grateful to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation for this tremendous show of support.”

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF) was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. THF awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, THF is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.

About GBBF

The mission of Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is to sustain and strengthen Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Tennessee’s preschool children, at no cost to the family and regardless of income. To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit or, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.

About Saint Thomas Health

Saint Thomas Health is Middle Tennessee’s faith-based, not-for-profit health care system united as one healing community.  Saint Thomas Health is focused on transforming the health care experience and helping people live healthier lives, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. The regional health system includes nine hospitals: Saint Thomas Hospital for Spinal Surgery, Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Saint Thomas Hickman Hospital in Centerville, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas River Park Hospital in McMinnville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. A comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities complement the hospital services and cover a 68-county area. Saint Thomas Health is the Tennessee ministry of Ascension, the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit