Burns secures $20,000 state grant to keep Imagination Library going

Program has sent more than 12,600 books to Cambria County children

EBENSBURG, July 28 – After securing a stage grant to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Cambria County last year, state Rep. Frank Burns, today announced he has secured another $20,000 grant to ensure the program continues.

“This program has been a huge success since we held our kick-off event last year at Saint Francis, and I wanted to make sure it continues to enrich the lives of children in our community,” Burns said. “Reading a fundamental life skill, and there’s no greater investment we can make in our kids’ future success than to support reading and early literacy. I especially want to thank Saint Francis University for stepping up and facilitating this program in our community. I could not have made this happen without them.”

In the year since the program started in Cambria County, the university said it has placed 12,640 books into the hands of 1,686 children.

“We are grateful to State Representative Frank Burns for entrusting the university to implement this tremendous early childhood literacy program,” said Melissa Peppetti, director of graduate education programs at Saint Francis, and who is leading the program. “We do so proudly through SFU's Dorothy Day Outreach Center and the Graduate Education Department as part of our mission to support families and promote children's literacy. Given that there are more than 6,000 eligible families with children from birth to age 5 in Cambria County, Representative Burns' continued financial support enables us to reach as many children as possible." 

The Imagination Library started in 1995 with just 1,700 books. Today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends more than 1 million books per month to children around the world. In 2020, Burns was able to secure a $50,000 state grant with a portion of the funds being used to include Cambria County in the program. Saint Francis University agreed to partner with Burns to be the program’s local administrator.

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams,” Dolly Parton has said about the program. “The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”