Literacy Programs

We’re fighting to shift the odds so tomorrow’s leaders can build a better foundation today. With an approach to literacy that spans from cradle to career, we’re ensuring every child gets a strong start in life, teenagers have the tools to learn and grow, and young adults thrive in the job market.

Through our programs and partnerships, WALI, Imagination Library and Reading Plus, we work to ensure the importance of adequate literacy is not forgotten.

  • We advocate for literacy through the WALI community initiative.
  • Imagination Library provides children under the age of 5 with a free, age-appropriate book each month - no strings attached. 
  • Reading Plus is implemented in many schools in Santa Barbara County to help kids in fourth grade and above catch up to their peers' reading level.



  • In 2020 - The Imagination Library has distributed more than 60,000 books to preschoolers to prepare them for kindergarten by learning to read.
  • In 2020 - Power Readers serves over 1,000 students that benefit from our reading improvement partnerships. Students average over 3-grade levels improvement in one year, with many reaching grade-level reading for the first time.

Reading Plus is currently supported by United Way in schools and community organizations throughout Santa Barbara County. We hope to expand the program so that every child has the opportunity to be reading at grade level when they graduate high school. 

Reading Plus develops reading efficiency in order to free up mental energy for comprehension and make reading more enjoyable and rewarding.



Imagination Library

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has mailed out over one million books to children internationally since 1995. We are proud to be a part of that effort. Through Imagination Library, children under five years old receive monthly books for free. At Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, we devote a portion of our budget to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. We have graduated nearly 2,000 children from our local program, and we have close to 300 children currently receiving books. 

As expected, this program costs more as we enroll more children. However, that is subject to change depending on the amount of support the program receives.

  • To support a child's Imagination Library membership for one year, we ask you to donate just $25.
  • A small gift can change a child's future.
  • We receive many applications for enrollment per month, and they are on our waiting list.
  • With your help, they can begin receiving books within the next few weeks.

If you want to enroll your child in our Imagination Library program, we do remind you that there is a waiting list. However, we enroll children on a first come first serve basis, so early enrollment is encouraged. Download the PDF below, print it, fill it out, and mail it to us at PO Box 947, Santa Maria, CA  93456.