Dollar General grant kicks off literacy program

Discount retailer makes Tennessee second state for plan focused on helping parents help their kids

A $250,000 grant from Nashville-based Dollar General Corp. is kick-starting the local introduction of a program that trains parents to help their kids read better.

Despite troubles in the national economy, Dollar General President David Bere said this afternoon that his company’s contributions to literacy promotion will not slow down.

“Dollar General is passionate about literacy,” Bere said. “In good economic times, in tough economic times, … we’ve been committed.”

The company has invested $25 million in literacy initiatives since 1993, Bere said.

This afternoon, officials from Dollar General, the Tennessee Department of Education and Metro Nashville Public Schools kicked off the "Love. Read. Learn!" program in Tennessee. The $250,000 gift from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is picking up program costs for its first year of operation, and Bere said the goal is to reach 10,000 parents statewide in its first year.

Liz McFadden, president of the Volunteer USA Foundation – the organization that administers "Love. Read. Learn!" – said the program helps parents learn critical skills kids must have in place to learn reading, and teaches parents to incorporate reading education into daily activities. Tennessee is the second state "Love. Read. Learn!" has reached.

“Especially with the state being so tight on [finances], it’s really great knowing there are other partners,” McFadden said.

The introduction of "Love. Read. Learn!" has the full support of the Tennessee Department of Education. Julie McCargar, director of federal programs for the DOE, said Gov. Phil Bredesen is “right on board” with such initiatives – and very supportive of partnerships between businesses and schools.