(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) has been awarded $40,000 from the International Paper Foundation in partnership with International Paper-Mansfield Mill. United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) program in DeSoto Parish will receive $15,000 of these funds, which will sponsor 500 children in the program for a year. United Way’s 211 health and human service hotline, a program that connects callers to other nonprofit and governmental resources, such as food pantries, rental assistance, health and mental health care; as well as coordinates access to emergency and disaster resources during times of crisis, will receive $25,000 in support.

Local data demonstrates that only fifty-two percent of children in Northwest Louisiana enter kindergarten prepared. Through the DPIL program, one book is delivered directly to children’s homes each month. If a child is enrolled in the program at birth, they will own a library of 60 books by the time they enter kindergarten, all at zero cost to the child’s family.

“Education is one of International Paper’s signature causes, and we at International Paper Mansfield Mill understand that the future of our community depends on the children,” said Ed Barr, International Paper Mansfield Mill Manger. “Literacy is our primary focus because reading skills form the foundation for all childhood learning. Therefore, we are extremely proud and excited to partner with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Desoto parish, where we have operated for 40 years.”

Since the spread of COVID-19, more than 35,000 calls to 211 have been answered in Northwest Louisiana, making this resource more vital than ever. Amidst the pandemic, the service has provided the latest COVID-19 information, such as emergency rental assistance, vaccination sites, and transportation to vaccination sites.

“With these funds, we will continue to connect families in need to the many community resources available in our region and improve the lives of our youngest readers by providing access to the tools necessary for a successful future,” says Dr. Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana. “We are grateful to International Paper Mansfield Mill for their community leadership and their motivation to enhance early childhood education and provide crucial resources to those in need.”

United Way fights for the health, education, financial stability, and essential needs of every person in our community. UWNWLA is proud to have corporate partners like International Paper’ Mansfield Mill and International Paper Foundation committed to serving their community.

To learn more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and 211, please visit unitedwaynwla.org.

About International Paper Foundation:

The International Paper Foundation is one of the ways International Paper strives to reach its vision to be among the most successful, sustainable, and responsible companies in the world. Started in 1952, the foundation annually provides millions in grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to address critical needs in the communities where its employees live and work. Funding priority is given to programs related to its signature causes: education, hunger, health & wellness, disaster relief, and initiatives that improve the planet. For more information, visit ipgiving.com.

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