United Way receives funding to continue free reading program


Wyo4news Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

SOUTHWEST WYOMING — United Way of Southwest Wyoming (UWSW) was awarded several grants and gifts in 2021 for the continuation of their free reading program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Southwest Wyoming, which serves Lincoln, Sweetwater, and Uinta Counties.


UWSW is the local affiliate for the Imagination Library program, which mails a free, age-specific book each month to registered children from birth to age 5.

Gifts from Whisler Chevrolet totaled $12,000 to UWSW’s Imagination Library program.

“We are thankful that we can continue our partnership with United Way to support education. We have supported the Imagination Library in the past and wanted to make a bigger commitment. Getting kids excited about reading helps prepare them for school and school is the foundation for a good life, “said Andria Whisler Smith, owner of Whisler Chevrolet.

The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation granted UWSW $7,500 to support UWSW’s efforts in increasing time spent reading with children. UWSW applied for funds because Dominion Energy’s strong education priority aligns with UWSW’s education initiative.

“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program aligns with our Education Initiative to increase kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading scores and high school graduation rates. Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning,” said Kelly Frink, Executive Director, United Way of Southwest Wyoming.

Wyoming Community Foundation (WYCF) also granted UWSW $7,500 for the continuation of the program. These funds were recommended by the WYCF Evanston Area Local Board and the WYCF Rock Springs Area Local Board. The grant was made possible by the 21st Century Fund for Uinta County and the Clarence & Mary Samuels Endowment Fund.


These gifts alone do not cover the total cost of the program. Additional funding has also been received from the City of Green River, Kiwanis Club of Rock Springs, Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, RSNB Bank, parents of DPIL graduates, and from individuals participating in their workplace campaigns. UWSW also holds an annual golf tournament with proceeds benefiting the program. The next golf tournament is scheduled for September 10, 2022.

“This kind of commitment, especially now, is much needed to be able to continue offering this wonderful program. These organizations are committed to helping children in our community be successful. Having access to books inspires parents to read to their children. As little as 15 minutes a day has a big impact on a child,” said Frink.

The Imagination Library pays for the books and UWSW raises funds to cover the cost of shipping the books, which is about $35 a year per child, and makes the program accessible to all preschool children in the area. Currently, 2,025 children in Southwest Wyoming are enrolled in the program and 5,775 have graduated.

Parents can enroll their children in this program online by visiting swunitedway.org. Paper forms are also available at the UWSW office, 510 South Main Street, Rock Springs, WY.

For more information on how you can help more children in Southwest Wyoming receive age-appropriate books, please contact Shelley Richno at 307-362-5003 or [email protected].