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Dolly Parton's Imagination Library brings books to children's homes. From birth until they turn five years old, children enrolled in the program will receive a new, age-appropriate book mailed to their home each month. By the time they enter kindergarten, children will have their own library of books and be more prepared to enter school and become readers.

For more information, or to sponsor a child, CLICK HERE.


Collective impact happens when a group of organizations commit to addressing a community-wide social issue that cannot be solved alone.  It means adopting a new way of working by bringing nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public together around a common agenda.  Collective impact can produce large-scale social change in ways that other forms of collaboration and individual efforts have not.  United Way of Southwest Michigan engages in three collective impact efforts. Working alongside other key community partners, we leverage our assets to galvanize our community around a common cause, a common vision, and a common path forward.  We make sure children and youth can start school ready to succeed, become proficient readers at a young age, stay on track in middle school, earn their high school diploma and pursue a higher education.


The Great Start Collaborative (GSC) is a community initiative focusing on expanding and enhancing early childhood systems in Berrien and Cass counties. The GSC is making significant progress toward early childhood outcomes including overall health, early academic development, and school preparedness for children from birth to 3rd grade. In 2016, the GSC in Berrien County made great strides in helping children achieve Kindergarten readiness and school success through three important points of access. These include developing school readiness indicators, the ‘Get READY’ school readiness campaign, and the ‘Get READY’ parent guide and support materials.

To learn more about the Great Start Collaborative of Berrien County, visit www.GreatStartBerrien.org or contact Kristen Chism at kristen.chism@uwsm.org

To learn more about Great Start Collaborative of Cass County, contact Margie Hadsell at margie.hadsell@uwsm.org.


The Berrien County College Access Network, a Local Access Network (LCAN) is a community-based college access alliance supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business, and philanthropy.  This coalition is committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation, and completion rates within Berrien County.  We coordinate and expand programs, services and resources that lower barriers preventing students from pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities.

To learn more about the Berrien County College Access Network, contact Maureen Ovington at maureen.ovington@uwsm.org