Dolly Parton is our Champion!

We are beyond thrilled to announce that Dolly Parton has been selected as Foundations’ 2020 Champion of Children Honoree!

This prestigious award recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to creating a brighter future for our nation’s most vulnerable children through quality education.

Dolly Parton and her book gifting program Imagination Library have been mailing free, high-quality books to young children since 1995. Dolly’s mission is for all children to own books, regardless of their family’s income – and to be excited about the magic that books can create!

After launching in Dolly’s home county in East Tennessee, the Imagination Library quickly grew – today, she sends more than one million books each month to children all around the world!


Geoffrey Canada

“I want to be a children’s hero; children need heroes because heroes give hope; without hope they have no future.”

Geoffrey Canada is an iconic educator and social activist, renowned around the world for his pioneering work in educational reform. The Harlem Children’s Zone, which the New York Times called “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our times,” is a holistic pipeline from early childhood through college, supporting programs in community-building, health, and family services. Inspired by Mr. Canada’s success in Harlem, President Obama launched the Promise Zones Initiative to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone model; there are currently twenty-two Promise Zones in high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities.

Barbara Bush

“If more people could read, write, and comprehend, we could be much closer to solving so many of the other problems our country faces today.”

As First Lady of the United States, Barbara Bush’s cause was family literacy. Barbara Bush was involved with many literacy organizations, served on literacy committees, and chaired many reading organizations. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy to combat the generational cycle of illiteracy in America by supporting programs where parents and their young children were able to learn together. The Barbara Bush Foundation runs over 1500 literacy programs spread across all US states.

Ralph Smith

“What crystallizes the moral imperative to act is the awareness and belief that acting can make a difference.”

Ralph Smith is the Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a nationwide collaborative effort to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school by focusing on an important predictor – grade-level reading by the end of third grade. Ralph Smith served the Philadelphia School District for many years as both chief of staff and special counsel. He is known for supporting fathers in their critical role in children’s lives, mobilizing communities to be change agents in improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families, and promoting reforms that help ex-offenders become productive citizens.

Rev. Dr. Wilson Goode, Sr.

“I started with passion, but I will end with love.”

Wilson Goode was the first black mayor in Philadelphia and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education in the Clinton administration. He holds a Doctor of Ministry and is an advocate for faith-based initiatives. Rev. Goode is the CEO of Amachi, a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents. He was awarded the Purpose Prize for exceptional individuals over age 60 who are working to address critical social problems.

Dr. Terry Peterson

“We need educators, community organizations, employers, and volunteers not simply to work better together but also to work in new and more productive ways that spark student interest in learning.”

Terry Peterson is the Director of the Afterschool and Community Learning Network, with a PhD in Research and Statistics in Education. He is involved in international education efforts, most recently in Argentina, Mongolia, Brazil, Northern Ireland, South Korea, and Denmark. Dr. Peterson was one of the original founders of the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and has helped several statewide afterschool networks develop and improve their strategies. Dr. Peterson also served as chief education advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education for eight years, developing a number of nationwide education improvement strategies.