Whitewater LEADS makes strides in Whitewater community

Whitewater LEADS sponsors Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in the Whitewater community. As of March 1, 2019, 45 percent of children under five years of age in the Whitewater area were registered for DPIL.

“When this program was brought to Whitewater by Whitewater LEADS after we moved here, we were really excited,” DPIL parent Lisa Dawsey said. “My now four-year old gets so excited when her book arrives each month. Books enrich children’s lives in so many ways beyond tangible test scores.”

According the projections from the DPIL staff, Whitewater would not be expected to meet the 45 percent target until the three or four-year mark. Whitewater reached 45 percent in less than two years, since starting in the fall of 2017.

“Thanks to the partnership with the school district, Irvin L. Young Memorial Library and the work of our volunteers, we are ahead of schedule in getting these books in the hands of young children and their parents,” Whitewater LEADS President Jim Winship said.

Winship also mentioned the research conducted that when children receive the book they are more “excited” about reading and the parents spend more time reading with their children.


Son and father of the DPIL program reading together, provided by Photographer Tom Ganser and Whitewater LEADS. 

The DPIL is a book/reading program where children age five and younger receive a free, age-appropriate book mailed to their home. It is meant to engage children early on in the world of reading and prepare them for schooling.

The Dollywood Foundation started the DPIL, founded by country music legend Dolly Parton, who grew up in a poor and rural family. The program started as a charity in Sevier County, Tennessee.

Parton started the program so every preschool child in her home county could have books in their home. The program currently distributes over one million high quality books monthly to children around the world.

Whitewater LEADS is a nonprofit organization established in 2015 to support literacy in the greater Whitewater area.

Its board is composed of representatives from the business community, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Whitewater Unified School District and the Whitewater community.

“The total cost for our literacy efforts is about $10,000 a year, with the bulk of it going to the Imagination Library,” Whitewater LEADS board member and Greater Whitewater Committee, Inc. Chairman Larry Kachel said. “We will have a fundraising event in the fall of this year to recognize our donors and sponsors, while raising money for the following year.”

Parents in the Whitewater Unified School District with children under the age of five can register their children to receive free books by going to imaginationlibrary.com.

For more information or to volunteer with Whitewater LEADS, email whitewaterleads@gmail.com. Whitewater LEADS is especially looking for volunteers to help with their social media efforts.

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