OREANDA-NEWS. September 22, 2016. Nissan North America has extended its commitment to early childhood literacy in Middle Tennessee by granting \\$100,000 to Governor's Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF). Joined by First Lady Crissy Haslam, Nissan presented the check to GBBF President Theresa Carl today during a reading event at Casa Azafr?n Early Learning Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in celebration of Tennessee's Imagination Library Week and Nissan's ongoing support of the Foundation. Nissan has contributed \\$1.1 million to GBBF since 2005.

The donated funds will be used to provide age-appropriate books each month to preschool children who are enrolled in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library programs in Davidson, Franklin, Rutherford and Williamson counties—the four counties where Nissan has operational facilities in the state.

"Nissan sponsors many educational programs to help children and youth learn and grow," said Rebecca Vest, Nissan vice president of Corporate Development and Social Responsibility. "There is no better way to nurture opportunity in the communities where we live and work than to promote literacy and a desire to learn among children from an early age. We are proud to partner with Governor's Books from Birth Foundation and Tennessee's Imagination Library."

Since its inception in 2004, Governor's Books from Birth Foundation has distributed more than 26.8 million books to preschool children across the state of Tennessee. Tennessee's Imagination Library Week, Sept. 18 to 24, raises awareness of the program's early childhood literacy mission and celebrates its accomplishments statewide.

"There is much to celebrate about Tennessee's Imagination Library," said First Lady Haslam. "Through Nissan and other generous partners, Tennessee is the only state in the nation making the program available to all age-eligible children. Enrollment has never been higher, and children are gaining important early reading skills that prepare them for Kindergarten and contribute to our state's overarching goal to increase literacy."

Governor's Books from Birth Foundation supports Tennessee's Imagination Library program by funding 50% of the costs of books and mailing each month. Its mission is to build a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee's children. The efforts of TN's Imagination Library in delivering over 256,000 books each month to children birth to age five in the state, support the TN Department of Education's  Read to be Ready goal of raising Tennessee's third grade reading proficiency level to above 75 percent by 2025. Greater early childhood literacy increases library usage and improves overall educational outcomes.

"We know that early learning and reading skills are absolutely critical for a child's success in life," said Theresa Carl, president of GBBF. "Thanks to Nissan's generosity and commitment, more than 4 million books have been delivered in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford and Franklin counties since 2004. Our continued partnership with Nissan through the years has made a significant impact on enrollment growth and on the lives of the thousands of children served by this program."

Currently, only about 43 percent of Tennessee third graders are reading at or above grade level. Studies show that students who have not developed basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out of school later. Early childhood literacy programs lead to early language development, school readiness, on-time graduation and college attendance in the future.

During the celebration, preschoolers at Casa Azafr?n Learning Center were delighted to hear Imagination Library stories read to them by First Lady Crissy Haslam and Nissan's Vice President of Corporate Development and Social Responsibility Rebecca Vest.

 About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized annually by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year since 2010. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com, or visit the U.S. media sites NissanNews.com and InfinitiNews.com

About the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation
The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) was created in 2004 to allow Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to be available to every child in the state of Tennessee. Children from birth to age five are eligible to receive books at no cost to families, regardless of income. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors, small businesses and a host of private corporate partners, the GBBF matches all funds raised by each Imagination Library program in Tennessee – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S. today.

About Casa Azafr?n Learning Center
Funded by public and private donations and grants, Casa Azafr?n opened in December 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. and is now home to Conexi?n Am?ricas and nonprofit resident partners such as the American Center for Outreach, American Muslim Advisory Council, Family and Children's Service, Global Education Center, Financial Empowerment Center, Justice for Our Neighbors, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and United Neighborhood Health Services. In addition, several non-resident partners make Casa Azafr?n a vibrant place for the visual, film, literary and performing arts, including The Belcourt Theater, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Television and Nashville Symphony.