Kids Can Fly receives Ontario Trillium Grant

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has made a significant investment in enriching the lives of young children in Brant.  MPP Dave Levac and Larry Davis, from the Ontario Trillium Grant Review team announced that Kids Can Fly will receive a grant of 81 thousand dollars over the course of two years to fund the Imagination Library.

Imagination Library is an amazing opportunity for children to receive free books in the mail from birth to age five.  It was established by country singer Dolly Parton in 1996 and brought to Brant in 2009 by Kids Can Fly in partnership with the Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise.  Funding from both Rotary Clubs now allow Kids Can Fly to register about 200 children per year.

The children begin to receive quality, age appropriate books in the mail, once a month.  If a baby is registered at birth they will have received a library of 60 books when they reach their 5th birthday!

Kids Can Fly and the Brant-Brantford Roundtable on Poverty partnered to apply for this new funding.

The research on the impact of Imagination Library shows that it brings families together with parents reading more to their children and spending more time interacting.

Children who have had the benefit of Imagination Library tend to arrive at kindergarten with larger vocabularies, heighten creativity and showing excitement about learning new things. In Brant 25% of children are not ready when they start kindergarten and 28% of high-school students do not graduate.  When these students are not able to complete their schooling they are more likely to live in poverty.

The new allocation of funds from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will allow for 700 more children to participate in the program.

Kids Can Fly is continuing to raise funds for the Imagination Library and their goal is to enrol every child born in Brant in the program.  If you would like to sponsor a child for the Imagination Library click

The Imagination Library: A Way to Fight our 28% High School Drop Out Rate


It was serendipitous that Joe Persia would pick up a Rotarian publication with the face of Dolly Parton and the caption “The Book Lady” on the cover. Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library in 1996 as a way to help children learn to read and to improve literacy in her community.  The program had positive results right away and began to grow across the United States, Canada and now all over the world.  Children can be enrolled in the program starting at birth.  Each month they receive a free, age-appropriate book in the mail until their 5th birthday.  Having books in a child’s home works to help children learn to read and also encourages families to spend more time together.

Coincidentally, Joe was studying for his PhD in the area of Reading Education and had become interested specifically in early learning and literacy. “The article about a book gifting program aimed at specifically improving reading readiness and the love of literature was timely indeed.  Upon reading the article I thought it would be a great way for the Rotary Club in which I belong to, to take a unique project and sponsor a program that would pay enormous and tangible benefits right here in our own community.”  

Persia contacted the Imagination Library administrator in Canada, Catriona Sturton, who suggested finding someone to act as a program administrator.  After asking around, the name Sharon Brooks was suggested to Joe Persia. “I was approached by Joe to partner in this innovative project.  The Kids Can Fly Board was immediately keen to get involved as it was a project that totally fit our mandate”, said Brooks. Joe joined the Kids Can Fly Board and immediately contacted Sunrise Rotary for support of the program. Sunrise Rotary agreed to help, and committed to $10,000 a year for three years. Since being introduced in Brantford-Brant, close to 400 children have been enrolled in the Imagination Library. The Kids Can Fly Board continued to look for ways to expand the program locally. As a result, Joe, Sharon, Kids Can Fly Chair Jeanne Smitiuch, and Board member Lisa Collins all went to Tennessee for the Imagination Library Homecomin’ Conference in June of 2011. “We thought we knew a lot about this project before the conference and were blown away by the additional ways Imagination Library can impact a community. The research to date is showing that children are flourishing and parents are getting more involved with reading and interacting with their kids after the books started arriving from Imagination Library”, says Brooks.   

Jeanne Smitiuch is leading the Imagination Library sub-committee for Kids Can Fly. She came back from the conference with a goal to have every child from 0-5 enrolled in the program in Brantford-Brant. “Studies prove that reading to a child improves their school   readiness, increases the parent-child bond and is crucial in language development”, said Smitiuch. Kids Can Fly is now using Imagination Library as a point of contact with new parents so that, in the future, the organization can provide support for parents such as information on brain development, ways to get a child ready for school and to inform them of other community events and early learning programs.  The organization’s mandate is to help all children in the community reach their maximum potential.

Read the rest of the story from The Advocate

The Gift of Literacy – Imagination Library

It sounds too simple to be true, but reading regularly with your child beginning at birth, provides your child with a huge boost towards success.

This holiday season, Kids Can Fly is raising funds for our Imagination Library program.  Children can be enrolled in the Imagination Library at birth. The program then provides the child with a free book each month in the mail up until the age of 5.  That’s a total of 60 books!  Imagination Library was established by country singer Dolly Parton in 1996 and brought to Brant in 2009 by Kids Can Fly in partnership with the Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise.  Funding from both Rotary Clubs now allow Kids Can Fly to register about 200 children per year. 

Having books in the family home offers quality bonding time for parents and their children.  Children love to hear stories and cuddling up and reading a book together brings families closer. Children that have Imagination Library books in their homes tend to arrive at kindergarten with larger vocabularies, heightened creativity and show excitement about learning new things.

The program is growing and supporters are realizing the value in sponsoring a child for Imagination Library.

“Every year I donate to a children’s charity in honour of my staff.  I saw the Imagination Library Gift of Reading fundraising campaign and it appealed to me because I like to direct my donation to children in our local community, and I love that this program focuses on literacy” – Imagination Library Supporter

Sponsors of the Imagination Library are also able to name a child that they would like to enroll in Imagination Library. The program costs $60 per year for a child or $300 for the full five years.

It’s a wonderful gift for a new baby in the family, a co-worker’s child or an employees child. You can even sponsor your own child in the program.  Another donor this week plans on designating her donation to her great-grandchild so he will receive the book every month.

“I can’t wait to hear how excited he will be when the books arrive each month!”

Kids Can Fly is aware that there are many gift giving campaigns happening at this time of year, but giving the Gift of Literacy will last a lifetime.  Investing in early learning and development holds it value.  Economists predict that investing in the early years is the best way to increase economic development.  Early learning programs help to save money in the future by reducing poverty, crime, teen pregnancy and welfare dependancy.  It also paves the way for higher education attainment and increases earning potential.

For more information or to sponsor a child for the Imagination Library click here

Raising money for the Imagination Library project is one of our top priorities so that this opportunity can be made available to ALL preschool aged children in Brantford-Brant!

“Dream more, learn more, care more and be more.” – Dolly Parton