Press Release: United Way, Community Partners Issue Call-to-action on Giving Tuesday

United Way of Central Illinois and community partners announce #GivingTuesday and holiday campaign to save early childhood literacy program.

Mayor Houston issues proclamation declaring Tuesday, December 3, 2013 as community-wide day of giving.

Mayor Houston, GSCC Leadership, Superintendent Leming and United Way leadership will be available for comment at this mornings news conference at the Early Learning Center, 2501 S 1st St, Springfield, at 11:00am.

Giving Tuesday PhotoUnited Way of Central Illinois and education, business and community leaders gathered at the early learning center today to call upon community members in Sangamon County to support local charitable organizations, including those focused on early childhood education, on Giving Tuesday. At the press conference, Mayor J. Michael Houston issued a mayoral proclamation designating Tuesday, December 3, 2013,as a community-wide day of giving on #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving. Joining Mayor Houston in the call-to-action were members of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Public Schools, United Way of Central Illinois, and Community Child Care Connection.

#GivingTuesday is a first of its kind effort bringing together charities, families, businesses and individuals to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and give back to the local charities and causes they support.

Taking place December 3, 2013 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday will harness the power of more than 6,000 participating charities to create a moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.

“We’re proud to bring together Mayor Houston, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Public Schools and our partners to recognize the importance of Giving Tuesday and early childhood education programs in our community,” said John Kelker, president of United Way of Central Illinois. “By bringing all of these parties together, we hope to demonstrate the importance of community partnerships in creating a better future for our children.”

United Way of Central Illinois, in partnership with Community Child Care Connection (CCCC) and area preschools, also announced Giving Tuesday as the kickoff day for a month long holiday campaign to save its early childhood literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Mayor Houston Proclamation - GivingTuesdayThe campaign, “Gift of Reading”, will support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which provides one free, age-appropriate book each month to children under the age of 5 in Sangamon County. In 2013, the program will provide more than 31,000 free, new age-appropriate books to more than 3,800 children who have enrolled in the program.

The program is designed to promote a love of reading among children at an early age, to better prepare children to enter kindergarten, and to bring families closer together. “In all my years working with preschool programs, Imagination Library has demonstrated a level of success which few other literacy programs have shown,” said Tiffany Simmons, Executive Director of Community Child Care Connection. “When we give a preschool child the gift of reading, we are creating a greater likelihood of long-term academic success and opening up a world of boundless opportunity.”

Launched through a donation from Scheels and supported through a renewable grant from a national corporation, the program is facing an uncertain future after the national corporation changed the focus area of its foundation giving. The program, which is not currently funded through United Way’s Annual Campaign, has three months of funding based upon current enrollment. United Way and CCCC are exploring alternatives to extend the program beyond three months to identify long term funding options.

The “Gift of Reading” campaign offers supporters of the program the opportunity to provide a year’s worth of books to a child in our community with a $25 gift. In addition, local businesses have the opportunity to sponsor the program through a variety of sponsorship options. 100% of each gift to the program goes directly to the cost of the literacy program.

The “Gift of Reading” campaign will run during the month of December with United Way, Community Child Care Connection and area preschools raising funds. To make a gift to the program, members of the community can call 217-726-7000 or visit


Please call Jarid Brown, Director of Communication at 217-836-2656 or by email at for more information.