State Farm Insurance donates $5,000 for books for toddlers

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENT REPORTER

On July 25, Centennial State Farm Insurance agent Sean Slater presented Jack Tate, CEO of Imagination Library of Colorado (ILCO), an oversized check for $5,000 for the young children served by ILCO. Said Tate, “We are so grateful for State Farm’s commitment. It has such a great impact. It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors. For anyone who has small children, giving them the gift of reading is such a powerful thing.”

Ken Hope runs the Centennial chapter of Imagination Library of Colorado through the Rotary Club of the City of Centennial.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) provides books monthly to families of infants and toddlers at zero cost. The organization began “with Dolly Parton’s desire that every child, regardless of income, would have access to books. Since its founding, The Dollywood Foundation has conducted and encouraged research on the Imagination Library program in an effort to assess communities’ reactions to the program and its impact on child literacy… The findings from the body of DPIL research indicate the program is extremely popular in the communities where it’s implemented and shows promise in promoting changes in home literacy environments, children’s attitudes toward reading, and early literacy skills.”

Launched in 2005, DIPL Colorado, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, currently sends books to over 24,000 children in this state every month. It has 42 local affiliate programs serving 25 counties and, “Almost 20% of books mailed each year are either fully bilingual in English and Spanish or have Spanish language content.” High quality, age-appropriate books are addressed in the name of the child beginning at birth and continuing until their fifth birthday. In addition to the United States, DIPL does its work in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada and Australia. Since its inception in 1995, DIPL has gifted nearly 185 million books and has over two million children presently registered and getting books in the mail every month.

State Farm Insurance Agent Sean Slater holds oversized check he presented to Imagination Library of Colorado CEO Jack Tate, as State Sen. Chris Kolker and (a cardboard) Dolly Parton look on. 
Photo by Freda Miklin

Locally, the Centennial chapter of ILCO is managed by the Rotary Club of Centennial and run by its member and former president, Ken Hope. When children enroll in DPIL who live in Centennial, their book deliveries are coordinated through and handled by the Centennial Rotary Club, which also donates 15% of the cost of the books. DPIL pays 70% of the cost and the State of Colorado donates the remaining 15%. 

Attending the event was State Sen. Chris Kolker, who represents SD27, where Slater’s State Farm Insurance office is located. His predecessor representing SD27 was Jack Tate, who retired from the state Senate in 2020. Prior to leaving the Senate, Tate was a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 20-185 which established an Imagination Library Program with the Colorado Department of Education. That program is the source of the state’s 15% contribution to the cost of books distributed by ILCO. Kolker, a certified financial planner, shared that in 2015, he started a group called “100 Men Who Care.” They meet quarterly and hear from three local charities that were nominated by group members. After the presentations, group members vote and they each donate $100 to the charity that the majority selects. He said, “I’m going to make sure we nominate Imagination Library at our next quarterly meeting.”

This is a diagram of the inputs, goals and results of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Kolker explained that his wife is a middle school counselor, that they are the parents of two children aged 6 and 10, and, “I know that getting your own book that goes into your library in your bedroom is so awesome for a child. I am happy to be associated with this program.”

For more information about DIPL Colorado, call 720-819-7323, go to  https://www.imaginationlibrarycolorado.org/ or email books@imaginationlibrarycolorado.org.