CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Dollar General and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently announced $4.5 million in support for youth literacy on The Kelly Clarkson Show with a generous $50,000 donation to Read Aloud West Virginia in honor of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitzkee and World Teachers Day.
When The Kelly Clarkson Show chose to celebrate Jennie Fitzkee, a West Virginia native and longtime Read Aloud WV supporter, Read Aloud’s Executive Director Dawn Miller was asked to video-call in to the filming as a surprise.
“Anything for Jennie Fitzkee!” she replied.
Miller was excited to be a part of recognizing a dedicated supporter and local literacy champion, but she had no idea there was a surprise in store for her and Read Aloud as well. Both women were shocked and deeply touched by Dollar General’s unexpected gift to the literacy organization they have spent years helping to grow. Read Aloud West Virginia is a 501(c)(3) literacy non-profit dedicated to motivating children to want to read.
You may know Read Aloud through its Volunteer Reader program, which has placed over 1,600 volunteer readers in over 2,200 classrooms across the state to model the joy of reading for students, or through their Book Distribution program, which has put over 75,000 books in the hands of children who need them in the past five years alone.
“Dollar General and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation have been proud to invest in literacy and education programs for nearly 30 years,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and vice president of corporate social responsibility at Dollar General. “We’re dedicated to supporting organizations like Read Aloud West Virginia that work tirelessly to provide children with the resources they need to develop a life-long love of reading.”
Dollar General and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s $4.5 million investment to help students, teachers and nonprofit organizations working to support and improve youth literacy across the country includes more than $3 million in youth literacy grants from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and a new $1.45 million partnership with education nonprofit DonorsChoose.
“With all the challenges of the pandemic, children need us now more than ever,” said Read Aloud Executive Director Dawn Miller. “This gift means so much to us. It is an acknowledgement of the lifelong value of our work to help children develop an intrinsic motivation to read. It also keeps us flexible and able to respond to changing needs in our communities. We will be able to do even more.”
Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, was functionally illiterate and never completed a formal education. In 1993, J.L.’s grandson, Cal Turner, Jr., founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor him and support others’ educational journeys. Over the past 28 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has donated more than $203 million to provide funding and resources to support literacy advancement and has helped more than 14.8 million individuals learn to read.
In both 2020 and 2021, they granted funds to Read Aloud to support shipments of self-chosen books to low-income children across the Mountain state, keeping them reading through the pandemic and beyond.