Under the leadership of the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center (MCCESC), there are five (5) school districts collaborating to improve the literacy skills of their youngest children. They have created the Champaign County Children’s Literacy Foundation specifically to address the needs of the youngest, most vulnerable residents within the county.

The Champaign County Children’s Literacy Foundation was created because of the obvious need for early childhood literacy within the county and has a three-pronged strategy to address literacy for pre-school children.

  • Implementing/sustaining the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program (birth to 5 years) county wide
  • Implement a mentoring program focusing on the 40 Developmental Assets (grades 3, 4 and 5)
  • Continuing the Kids Read Now summer reading program to help reverse the summer slide (grades K-3)

Approximately 60% of the children entering Kindergarten need moderate or intensive interventions to help them be fully prepared for school.

Through our program, when families enroll in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, it will provide twelve books per year to children ages birth to 5 years. Additionally, we propose to recruit and provide adult mentors for students in our members schools, in grades 3 through 5, and implement a county-wide summer reading program called “Kids Read Now,” to help address the issues of the ”summer slide,” when some children lose some of their reading skills over the summer months.

Project Beneficiaries:

  • The beneficiaries will be the hundreds of children ages birth through 5 who will receive books at home to assist with their acquisition of reading skills and thereby be better prepared for Kindergarten. The projected number of participants is 500 children in Champaign County. Each child that enrolls will receive one new, age-appropriate book every month. If they enroll at birth, each child will have the benefit of 60 books to read prior to entering school. Tangentially, the families and the schools benefit. The families will see that their children are better prepared to enter school, have fewer educational issues, more confidence, and feel much better about entering and thriving in school. The school districts will benefit because they can allocate funds from remediation to grade-level education for more of their students. Fewer students who require less remediation or even special education will result in a shift of funds to thriving and excelling students. Our community will benefit from graduating more successful students who will become better equipped to be active, thriving members of our community.
  • There is strong research to support all three initiatives and we are respectfully requesting assistance to get these programs up and running within the next school year. Please know that our five member school districts are contributing to this program, along with the United Way. The Champaign County Children’s Literacy Foundation will be actively appealing to service organizations and other entities to partner with us to sustain the concept into the future.
    We wholeheartedly believe the Champaign County Children’s Literacy Foundation will make a significant difference in the lives of our youngest residents.
    I encourage you to contact the foundation director, Michele Roberts, if you are interested in becoming a mentor or if you can assist with a financial contribution to support sustaining our program.

If you have any questions regarding Champaign County Children’s Literacy Foundation or would like more information on ways to get involved, please contact :