(Minden, LA) – Young children living in Webster Parish are now one step away from receiving free high-quality books at home each month. The United Way program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, provides age appropriate books to children under five. This is the first time the program has been available to Webster Parish children and now all they need is to get signed up. United Way of Northwest Louisiana made the announcement Thursday at their satellite office in Minden.

Sixty-four percent of kindergarteners in Webster Parish are starting school unprepared. Research has shown that the number of books in a child’s home is significantly linked to reading scores – the more books, the better the score. The partnership between United Way NWLA and Fibrebond aims to close this gap.

“We understand the need for resources in Webster Parish,” said UWNWLA President and CEO Bruce Willson. “We also know that Fibrebond is dedicated to supporting educational development. That’s what makes this partnership so strong. With Fibrebond’s sponsorship, all children in Webster Parish now have a stronger chance at succeeding in school.”

Thursdays event came two-fold. While staff accepted new signups for Imagination Library, Willson announced the allocation of $53,500 reinvested into six nonprofit programs that serve Webster, Bienville and Claiborne parishes. This was the second of three events this year for United Way NWLA to distribute grants to area nonprofit programs. The programs will receive funds in the areas of education, financial stability, health and essential needs.

The six agencies are as follows:
1. Claiborne Voluntary Council on Aging $5,000
2. Domestic Abuse Resistance Team (DART) $3,000
3. Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana $20,000
4. Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry $7,000
5. Project Reclaim of Minden $15,000
6. United Christian Home $3,500

Other nonprofit agencies that serve Webster, Bienville and Claiborne parishes and also received a United Way NWLA grant include:

• American Red Cross
• Bossier Arts Council (DigiFest)
• Career Compass
• Catholic Charities of North Louisiana
• Evergreen Life Services
• Gingerbread House Children’s Advocacy Center
• Girl Scouts – Pines to the Gulf
• HOPE Connections
• Junior Achievement
• Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling
• Martin Luther King Health Center
• Northwest Louisiana Food Bank
• Norwela Council, Boy Scouts of America
• Providence House
• St. Luke’s Medical Ministry
• The Arc Caddo Bossier
• The Philadelphia Center
• The Salvation Army
• Training, Education and Mediation for Students (TEAMS)

For the 2018-2019 grant cycle, United Way of Northwest Louisiana will invest a total of $1.1M into 58 nonprofit programs. This amount is spread across their ten parish service area. The first grant announcement of 2018 presented checks to nonprofit programs serving Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto Parishes on Tuesday, June 5. The final grant announcement for remaining parishes will be held in Natchitoches on Friday, June 15.

Last year, over 15,000 individual donors and more than 800 companies and organizations participated in a United Way workplace campaign. It is the fruit of these labors that United Way NWLA is able to award grant allocations.