Dolly Parton Imagination Library

Early Childhood Development

How the Hearts Beat as One Foundation gave the gift of reading to thousands of children in North Carolina

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library began with a vision of fostering a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month.

In 2015, Hearts Beat as One Foundation decided it was time to bring the magic of Dolly Parton’s gift of reading to Charlotte.

With the generous support of our community and donors, Hearts Beat as One set out to raise $37,000 to launch the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to all preschool children in the 28205 ZIP code, administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

The initial rollout in 2015 funded enrollment for all new-born children that year in the 28205 ZIP code.

But that wasn’t enough.

In 2016, the program was expanded to cover 12 ZIP codes in Mecklenburg County with high concentrations of at-risk children.

Like Dolly, we realized quickly that this special gift of reading just had to be shared. With our success first in one ZIP code, and then 12 ZIP codes, Hearts Beat as One Foundation decided to push for more.

It was in 2017 that our breakthrough occurred. Working with Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and its statewide network, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library was able to expand across North Carolina.

A total of $10.5 million was dedicated by the North Carolina General Assembly in its 2017-2018 budget to expand the library across all 100 counties of the state.

Of all the values Hearts Beat as One Foundation holds dear, one rings true above them all…

When all of our hearts beat as one, people…everyone…thrive. 
And that includes the dearest among us, our kids. 

Hearts Beat as One Foundation is proud to have had the opportunity to make this tremendous mark, not only in our local community, but across the state of North Carolina.


Hearts Beat As One Foundation promotes diversity, inclusion, and awareness for targeted and strategic impact for our communities in Charlotte and the Carolinas. Donate or volunteer today to do your part in helping us achieve our mission.

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