UnitedHealthcare Supports Early Childhood Reading in Shelby County with Donation to Governor's Books from Birth Foundation
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | 4:17am
MEMPHIS- UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, the state’s largest Medicaid organization, today joined Memphis City Mayor A.C. Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to announce a two-year, $250,000 pledge to the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, which will support Shelby County Books from Birth (a local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library), providing a free book to children under the age of five, regardless of family income.
“This generous gift will help children all across ShelbyCounty be more prepared for school and a lifetime of learning, and we appreciate this commitment to early childhood education,” says Governor Bill Haslam.
“Children develop a love of learning early in life, and they also can learn healthy living habits at a young age,” said Scott Bowers, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, which coordinates health care to 585,000 TennCare members across the state, including more than 100,000 in ShelbyCounty. “We’re proud to partner with Books from Birth and the Urban Child Institute to help ShelbyCounty children develop habits that lead to a healthy and productive life.”
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan will donate funds over the course of the next two years to help Shelby County Books from Birth provide a free, age-appropriate book each month to children under the age of five. The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation will match this gift. The foundation matches dollar for dollar every gift donated to the Imagination Library in all 95 counties.
“We are honored by this extremely generous donation from UnitedHealthcare,” said Nora Capwell, executive director of Shelby County Books from Birth. “This funding will directly support our continuing efforts to provide an age-appropriate book each month to children in ShelbyCounty, aged 0 to 5 regardless of a family’s income. We are grateful to UnitedHealthcare, which strives to help worthy programs like Books from Birth that seek to enrich and engage our community’s youth.”
”We’re glad to partner our company’s efforts to encourage healthy living habits at an early age with the work Shelby County Books from Birth is doing to help young children develop a love of learning through reading,” said Brian Dobbins, executive director for the Western Region of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.“ Books from Birth and other community agencies like the Urban Child Institute are making a difference in the lives of our youngest citizens, and we’re glad to be a part of these efforts.”
The Shelby County Books from Birth program partners with the Urban Child Institute which plays an important role in the lives of newborns. They do this by conducting research to demonstrate the correlation between literacy and improved health outcomes. As a consequence, the Institute advocates on behalf of Books from Birth for all newborns to be enrolled and to receive books.
“Because of the focus of The Urban Child Institute on early brain development, we are very supportive of the Shelby County Books from Birth program's efforts to provide every child in our community with books of their own. Few things are as good for a child's brain development as sharing a book with the family while sitting in a parent's lap,” said Dr. Hank Herrod of the Urban Child Institute.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library was created in 1996 by Dolly Parton as a gift to the children of her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn. and was later expanded to the entire state with the creation of the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation. Just $24 annually provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. This cost is split evenly between a non-profit sponsoring organization in every Tennessee county, and a state budgetary allocation administered by the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation.
Currently, 57 percent of all Tennessee children birth to five are registered in the Imagination Library and are receiving free books in the mail. More than 213,000 Tennessee five-year-olds have already “graduated” from the program. The statewide program has helped deliver more than 12 million books to Tennessee children since the creation of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation in 2004.
About the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation: The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation was established in 2004 and currently serves Imagination Library organizers in all 95 counties by providing fund-raising, public relations and other support. To learn how to support your county's Imagination Library program, or for more information on how to register a child, visit www.governorsfoundation.org or call toll free 1-877-99-BOOKS.
About UnitedHealthcare Community Plan: UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee is a Medicaid managed care organization that serves TennCare members in East, Middle and West Tennessee. The company is part of UnitedHealthcare Community & State, the public sector health care business of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. UnitedHealthcare Community & State serves 3.3 million members, including 1.9 million children, in government-sponsored health care programs in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.UHCCommunityPlan.com for more information.