This is a collaborative, ongoing project sponsored by the three Rotary Clubs in the Prescott, Arizona area. This grant application is from the Rotary Club of Prescott. The other participating clubs, the Frontier Rotary Club of Prescott & the Prescott Sunup Rotary Club are submitting separate grant applications for the Prescott Area Imagination Library (PAIL) project.
The Prescott Area Imagination Library (PAIL) is focused on improving early childhood literacy skills by promoting and funding Dolly Parton's Imagination Library for all qualified children living in the Prescott area of Arizona. Language and literacy skills of many children living in the Prescott area are significantly behind children from other states. Only 56% of children can pass the 3rd grade state literacy test (AZMerit). Area poverty levels are high with 33% of school children qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Arizona ranks 48th in the country for early childhood education and high-quality childcare for working parents is costly and in short supply.
90% of brain architecture is established by age 5 years. Basic neural pathways develop for language and early literacy skills in the first three years. The achievement gap is measurable at 18 months of age and significant by age 3 years. Studies show that children from low income homes have heard 30 million words by their 4th birthday - a huge contributor to language delay and literacy. These are the same children most likely to struggle in school, need remedial help and drop out. Books in the home and early exposure to positive interactive talking, singing and reading starting in infancy makes a lifelong impact on learning. Every dollar invested in early childhood education saves taxpayers up to $13 in future costs.
Dolly Parton's renowned Imagination Library is a book program for children from birth to five YOA that inspires a love of books and reading. Kids receive a carefully selected new book in the mail every month with their name on it. They love getting mail and beg their parents to read to them. Busy parents have easy access to high quality books that they may not be able to afford or think to read. The program increases the time parents spend reading with their children and significantly improves kindergarten readiness for enrolled children. Recent studies show improved early literacy skills. Books are selected by developmental specialists to be stimulating, age-appropriate with positive themes that promote self-esteem, confidence and regard for diversity. Tips for parents are on the back flap of the books. The DPIL foundation provides the Book Order System, publishes and mails the books. Local sponsors (Friends of the Library, Read On, & Rotary volunteers) enroll children, manage the Book Order System, promote the program, and raise funds for books and postage. Parents pay nothing. The inclusiveness and popularity of this "children's book club" removes the stigma associated with targeting only underachieving or low-income children.
The Rotary Clubs of Prescott, through the Rotary District Grant program and their respective foundations, will begin funding the Prescott Area Imagination Library (PAIL) for children living in the Prescott area in 2019. In May-June 2019, all three Rotary Clubs in the Prescott area agreed to collaborate in bringing the PAIL program to Prescott first but with the view to quickly expand the program to all children 0-5 years living in the Quad City area (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt). The Friends of the Prescott Public Library intend to establish a separate account for the Prescott Area Imagination Library (PAIL), one that could eventually receive donations from other organizations and individuals in the Quad-City area.
As soon as is practicable, a new non-profit will be formed called The Prescott Area Imagination Library (PAIL) with bylaws calling for representation on the board by active Rotarians representing all participating clubs, as well as representation from all the various area stakeholders. April 2019, Friends of the Prescott Public Library agreed to be the affiliate with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program and has initiated this process.
Our outreach/promotional efforts will include: Use of social media to advertise the program for all of the partner organizations; A landing page on the Prescott Public Library site that provides information about the program and links to PAIL/DPIL online registration; Tabling presence at local events that attract families; Specific mention of the program at outreach events for all of the above organizations; Prescott Public Library youth librarians to promote at schools and preschools, as well as literacy night outreach events, Raising a Reader program, and at library storytimes; Read On Prescott Steering Committee members have also committed to contacting area organizations to ensure they are aware of the program and request that they help promote registration; WIC program; Arizona Children's Association; Yavapai Regional Medical Center; Ponderosa Pediatrics; & Yavapai County Health Department.
In Fall/September, 2019, PAIL will begin enrolling newborns at the birth hospital, the Yavapai Regional Medical Center, to reach more children in infancy. Our registration efforts will be broad, harnessing the network of early childhood professionals in the area, the Read On Prescott Steering Committee, Prescott Public Library, Friends of Prescott Public Library, Prescott Unified School District, First Things First Yavapai County, Yavapai County Educational Service Agency, as well as early childhood educators at local colleges.
Goals for the PAIL are to: 1. Assure children 0-5 yrs have access to high quality books in their home. 2. Increase parental understanding that talking and reading with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day is critical for healthy brain development and long-term learning. 3. Collaborate with community partners who work directly with parents who need coaching to improve their skills. Partners include Read On Prescott Steering Committee, Prescott Public Library & Friends of Prescott Public Library, Prescott Unified School District, First Things First Yavapai County, Yavapai County Educational Service Agency, as well as early childhood educators at local colleges. PAIL will be tracking 3rd grade AZMerit Reading scores and screening test scores at kindergarten entry to measure progress
Initial and ongoing funding for books and postage will come from each Rotary Club's Foundation contribution matched by Rotary District Grant funds, along with any additional support from other charitable foundations. The Rotary Club goal is an initial $12,000. The PAIL program will be completely volunteer run and will have no facility overhead.