On November 20th, 2019, Marietta Community Foundation announced a $20,000 matching grant campaign to raise funds for their Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. Just two weeks later, on December 4th, they had met their goal… but donors haven’t stopped there!

Donors have upped the ante by giving approximately $39,500, an impressive $19,500 over the campaign’s target goal. Including the Foundation’s match, the campaign has currently raised approximately $59,500 to improve early childhood development for children in Washington County.

“This is a prime example of how the people of Southeastern Ohio, particularly Washington County, take great pride in their community,” said Heather Allender, President & CEO of the Foundation, “When there is a need, our community steps up to fulfill that need. As the sole community foundation in Washington County, we are proud to serve such hardworking and generous people!”

As part of the initial announcement in late November, The Friends of the Washington County Library partnered with the Foundation by giving $10,000 toward the match. The Foundation credits the Friends of the Library for giving their campaign a boost in momentum from the very start.

“The Friends of the Washington County Public Library have been looking to support a program like this for years,” said Katherine Pekruhn, President of the organization. “We encourage reading with kids from birth on, and this was the first opportunity we found that we were overjoyed to partner with… you can never start reading too young.”

From left to right: Heather Allender, Marietta Community Foundation, Katherine Pekruhn, Marietta Friends of the Library, LeeAnn Johnson, wife of Congressman Bill Johnson

In collaboration with The Tiger Fund, John and Lori Lehman contributed $10,000 to the Foundation’s Imagination Library program.

“Lori and I have had a life-long interest in English literacy,” said John Lehman. “We were blessed with superb English and grammar instruction throughout our elementary and high school years in our hometowns. The not-so-secret ‘secret sauce’ is encouraging children of all ages to read well and for comprehension. We hope that our donation will help improve literacy in Marietta.”

Along with an additional $10,000 donation from the Virginia K. Mayle & Peter Polites Family Charitable Fund, The Spartan Foundation, an organization that helps fund reading programs in the area, pledged $5,000 toward the matching campaign. Several members of the community also contributed donations of varying amounts.

“We support reading programs that engage young minds and establish a love for reading,” said Bob Kirkbride, a board member at the Spartan Foundation. “Marietta Community Foundation’s affiliation with the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library does just that! It was an easy decision for us and I look forward to seeing young children being better equipped for when they enter grade school.”

In July of this year, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine allocated $5 million, in the State of Ohio’s budget, to be used for a state-wide reading initiative called the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. This initiative is in partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and will match every dollar raised by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Ohio affiliates, which includes the Foundation.

This means that the more than $59,500, raised locally, will be doubled by the state, bringing the overall campaign total over $120,000.

First Lady Fran DeWine said, “It is inspiring to see how the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is bringing communities together across Ohio. Marietta Community Foundation is doing incredible work to put more books in the hands of Washington County kids. Kids who read succeed, and I can’t wait until every child in Ohio is able to sign up for Imagination Library.”

Despite the match being met, people can still donate to the Foundation’s Imagination Library program, as donations will still be matched by OGIL through 2021.

The Marietta Community Foundation meets National Standards for operational quality, donor service and accountability in the community foundation sector. Founded in 1974, the Marietta Community Foundation has grown over the years thanks to a number of generous gifts.

Marietta Community Foundation works to improve Washington County in various ways, including the improvement of Early Childhood Education. If you are interested in learning more about these efforts, please contact Heather Allender at 740-373-3286 or heather@mcfohio.org.