November 2017 Around Town


Franklin-based Nissan North America deepened its investment in, and commitment to, early childhood literacy in Tennessee by granting $100,000 to Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), benefiting Imagination Library programs in Middle Tennessee. Nissan has contributed more than $1.2 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 learn and grow,” Rebecca Vest, Nissan vice president of corporate development and social responsibility, says. “Education nurtures opportunity and prepares young people for jobs that will someday support the communities where we live and work. Nissan is proud to partner with Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and Tennessee’s Imagination Library and their mission to support the education of so many children across our state.”

Since 2004, GBBF has distributed more than 1.5 million Imagination Library books statewide to preschool-aged children in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford and Franklin. In these counties, 47,659 children currently receive books each month.

“As we work together to increase the number of Tennessee third-graders reading proficiently, Tennessee’s Imagination Library provides children with the early literacy skills to prepare for school and grow a love of learning,” Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam says. “Thank you to Nissan and other statewide partners for their generous support of this program, giving all children in Tennessee the opportunity to enroll in Tennessee’s Imagination Library and build a foundation for educational success.”

By supporting Tennessee’s Imagination Library program, GBBF funds 50 percent of the monthly cost of books, including distribution, statewide. GBBF envisions a Tennessee where all preschool children have books in their homes, develop a love of reading and learning, and begin school prepared to succeed, from kindergarten throughout their educational journeys.

“Tennessee’s Imagination Library provides the early exposure to books and reading skills that are critical for a child’s brain development, educational journey and success in life,”Theresa Carl, president of GBBF, says.”With several Middle Tennessee birthing hospitals now enrolling newborns in these counties into the program, Nissan’s commitment has never been so impactful in sustaining enrollment growth and giving the wonderful gift of books to our children.”

Currently, 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. The efforts of GBBF through Tennessee’s Imagination Library support the Read to Be Ready statewide education goal of raising Tennessee’s third-grade reading proficiency level to 75 percent by 2025. Early childhood literacy programs like Tennessee’s Imagination Library lead to early language development, school readiness and higher educational outcomes through the fifth grade. Students who were enrolled in the program are more likely to attend school more often and less likely to be suspended.

Children from birth to 5 years old are eligible to receive books from the GBBF 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.


The downtown Franklin Christmas Tree Lighting on the Square, a fun way for the entire family to kick off the holiday season, will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, December 1. The city is partnering with sponsors Williams Medical Center, Middle Tennessee Electric, Mars Petcare, Downtown Franklin Association and Spring Tree Media group to bring a multimedia extravaganza to the historic downtown square. The event features children’s choirs from local middle schools and high schools.

Hundreds are expected to gather on the square to watch lights and movie clips projected on the historic buildings that line the iconic landmark, as well as a dancing light show around the square.

The downtown Franklin Square will be closed to traffic from 5:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. so that attendees can walk safely and view the lights and graphics projected onto downtown buildings.