(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) has been awarded a $25,000 sponsorship from investment banking company Raymond James in support of United Way’s educational program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Studies show that 50 percent of children in Northwest Louisiana enter kindergarten without the tools they need to be successful in school and later in life. As the largest provider in the state, UWNWLA enables the Imagination Library to mail a new, age-appropriate book each month to children’s homes at zero cost to the children’s families. Children can be enrolled in the program at birth and own a library of up to 60 books by the time they enter kindergarten, ensuring they have the proper tools for school readiness.

For more than five decades, Raymond James has partnered with United Way to improve education, strengthen financial stability, and contribute toward the health of the communities in which we live and work. “Education is almost always the answer, but it is a long-term investment with no instant gratification,” said Thomas O’Brien, Raymond James Branch Manager and UWNWLA Board Member. We are proud to partner with United Way on a program that will help build a strong educational foundation for many children in Shreveport and the surrounding area. We believe that this program will have lasting benefits in our community.”

“We are beyond grateful to receive this generous sponsorship from Raymond James,” said UWNWLA President & CEO LaToria Thomas. “These funds have the power to sponsor more than 500 children in the Imagination Library, creating better odds for our community’s youth to become kindergarten ready, graduate from high school, and lead productive lives.”

The sponsorship provided by Raymond James was given through the United Way Book Club, an end-of-year giving campaign held by UWNWLA to support the Imagination Library. UWNWLA has met its $50,000 end-of-year fundraising goal through its initiative. However, this is part of a larger $250,000 goal to renew the program where its currently offered. UWNWLA will need to raise additional funds to expand the program throughout more zip codes in Northwest Louisiana. Currently, the program is available in the following zip codes: 71103, 71106, 71108, 71109, 71111, 71112, 71006, and 71064 of Caddo and Bossier Parishes; and all of Desoto, Red River, Sabine, Natchitoches, and Webster Parishes.

To learn more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the United Way Book Club, and how to become a member or sponsor, please visit https://unitedwaynwla.org/united-way-book-club/.