In a bid to jump-start literacy - and create a stonger workplace - A Vermont business group will give all babies born in the state next year a free bag of books and other learning materials.
The $500,000 program, sponsored by the nonprofit Vermont Business Roundtable, is the first early-literacy effort in the US to be privately funded - and the first with plans to reach every newborn in a state.
The group plans on continuing the effort beyond next year as long as funding allows.
The project will begin distributing books to an estimated 7,000 babies born in Vermont in 2000 at their six-month well-baby visits, from about June 2000 to July 2001.
"[We] realize how powerful and important early reading and communication is to infants and children," says William Schubart, chairman of the organization, which traditionally has focused its energy on social policy.
"Our involvement in a program of this kind is an investment in our children, in our state, and in our future workforce," he adds.
Actor James Earl Jones will appear at the kickoff event in an attempt to focus attention on the issue.
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