First Security Bank announces Imagination Library partnership

First Security Bank recently announced a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. All children from birth to age 5 opening a Kids Club Saving Account will also be able to simultaneously enroll in Imagination Library to start receiving a book each month at no charge.

The announcement was made during a reception at Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library in Little Rock.

First Security presented a check for $10,000 to fund the program. It costs $25 per year to enroll one child, so the initial donation will fund 400 children. As more children sign up, First Security will provide additional funds.

Reynie Rutledge (left) and Nate Coulter at the Imagination Library announcement.

This partnership is with the Arkansas Imagination Library, which currently has active affiliates in 68 of the 75 counties in Arkansas.

Nate Coulter, director of the Central Arkansas Library System, introduced the presentation. “Thank you to First Security for this partnership,” he said. “The partnership announced today is going to provide a boost to getting this great program into even more of our 75 counties so more and more children can show up for kindergarten ready to learn.”

Dr. Houston Davis, president of the University of Central Arkansas and a member of the board of directors for Arkansas Imagination Library, said, “I was living in Tennessee at the very early stages of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. They realized it was not just a state initiative, but a patchwork of initiatives that would grow out of communities. Thank you, First Security, for making this a piece of your financial literacy program. When it comes to access to books, you cannot start early enough.”

John Rutledge, CEO and president of First Security Bank in Central Arkansas, presented the check to Dr. Davis and Dr. Charlotte Green, executive director of Arkansas Imagination Library.

“In our local communities, we are constantly looking for ways to make better happen for families,” said Rutledge. “Imagination Library, which allows children and their parents to get a jump start on reading, is a natural partner for First Security Bank, which encourages children and their parents to get a jump start on saving through its Kids Club Saving Account program. The adoption of both of these lifelong habits from a young age is critical for generations to come.”

Green, who is also an assistant professor of education at UCA, said, “This partnership today speaks to Arkansas’ commitment to our children.”

Chris and Connie Johns of Conway were also part of the ceremony, along with their 3-year-old daughter, Evey. Evey, who previously enrolled in Imagination Library, was randomly selected in November 2016 to receive a $30,000 college scholarship from the Dollywood Foundation, which administers the Imagination Library. The award marked an important milestone – one million books gifted to children around the world each month.

Said Chris Johns, “As we read to Evey, we see its awesome power. We know this will help the children of Arkansas.”

Penny Pocket, the First Security Kids Club Saving Account mascot, was also on hand to celebrate. Children may enroll in the program at any First Security banking center. There is no minimum balance or monthly service fee. Upon enrolling, kids are given their very own savings book ledgers. Other benefits include earning interest, which is credited monthly, and other special features just for kids.

Founded in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting organization that has, to date, mailed more than 100 million books to children in Australia, Belize, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. Each month, the program currently mails more than one million specially selected, high-quality, age-appropriate books to registered children from birth until they start kindergarten in participating communities. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading in children, preparing them for school and inspiring them to dream. Recent studies suggest participation in the Imagination Library is positively and significantly associated with higher measures of early language and math development. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.