Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Update

Date: August 28, 2023

DPIL Indigenous Program

In 2019, the Lyone Foundation joined forces with United Way Australia (UWA) to enhance their assistance to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) program, promoting early learning literacy development among children in vulnerable communities throughout Australia. With a generous donation exceeding $250,000, the Lyone Foundation has supported the expansion and progress of DPIL in key locations such as Auburn and Parramatta in New South Wales, La Trobe Valley in Victoria, and Acacia Ridge in Queensland.

Each month, the DPIL program delivers a new book at no cost to the home of every enrolled child. In 2021, the Imagination Library made a significant impact by sending 132,631 books across Australia, supporting 14,256 children—an impressive 90% increase compared to the previous year. By the conclusion of 2022, the program had successfully distributed over 180,000 books to benefit more than 28,000 children.

 In Parramatta and Auburn, UWA collaborates with Early Ed to deliver the Imagination Library to local children. Over 300 in these local areas receive support through these programs, with funding also allocated to continue assistance for enrolled children.

In Acacia Ridge (Qld), around 60 children directly benefit from the Lyone Foundation's support. The Acacia Ridge Imagination Library, integrated into the Benevolent Society's Acacia Ridge Early Years Centre, aids vulnerable families with programming like Connect 2 Kindy, utilising Imagination Library books to enhance parent capacity for school literacy readiness.

The Victorian School Readiness Funding program includes a part-time resource to manage the administration and growth of the initiative and partners with over 145 kindergartens across Victoria and is supporting over 6,000 children each year.

Additionally, with the Lyone Foundation funding UWA has improved its measurement, evaluation, and learning with a global surveying method. This enables data collection from Imagination Library programs worldwide, in collaboration with the Dollywood Foundation. A formal partnership with Macquarie University Reading Clinic obtained international ethics approval to author peer-reviewed papers evaluating Imagination Library survey outcomes with anticipated publication providing valuable insights in July 2024.

With the support of the Lyone Foundation, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library will be able to add more First Nations titles to their library. Currently, United Way Australia (UWA) has eight First Nations titles in the DPIL program and would love to add more. It is through the relationships between UWA and First Nations publishers, Magabala Books and Yarn Strong Sista, that several First Nations titles have been identified as being suitable for inclusion in the DPIL program. 

Two books, 'Aussie Two Kids Like' and 'Our Bush Animals' have been put forward to join the library. Funds from the Lyone Foundation will assist with the current year distribution, which includes 27,000 copies and a total cost gap of $21,810.