Grant Opportunities for Reading Programs

Janet Ingraham Dwyer /

For many public libraries in cities and towns across the country, literacy programs are a key part of their public programming. These often go beyond involvement in summer reading activities, and could include year round efforts that support readers of all ages. If your library needs financial assistance with offering a program or getting access to books, check out these grant opportunities. It's also worth checking with local foundations, either in your city, town or region, that could support your initiatives. Funders are often looking for quality programs to support and libraries are always a strong choice!

Literacy grant opportunities / free books

  • The Pilcrow Foundation – focusing on rural libraries, the foundation provides matching grants for children’s books as well as special grants to libraries that have suffered loss and damage due to natural disasters:
  • Dollar General Literacy Grant Programs – for adults, families, and youth literacy programs, as well as summer reading 
  • Better World Books Literacy Grants – looking for libraries with “Game Changing” ideas which help advance a compelling literacy project
  • Lois Lenski Covey Foundation – "literacy programs that engage children in activities that foster a lifelong love of reading.” Focused on the Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas.
  • Ezra Jack Keats Foundation minigrant program – offers funding of up to $500 and the opportunity to design and implement a creative program for your school or library 
  • Wish You Well Foundation – Supporting adult and family literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy and educational programs
  • Library of Congress Surplus Book Program – "The Library of Congress has available at all times, for donation to eligible organizations and institutions, surplus books which are not needed..."

General resources for grant opportunities

  • Visualizing Funding for Libraries – a free resource from Foundation Center. A WebJunction webinar covering how to use the tool is also available 
  • Library Grants – this blog keeps readers up-to-date on current grant opportunities for all types of libraries.
  • State library staff – staff at your state library may be familiar with local grant programs that your library may be eligible for, check with them for more information.

This list was provided by presenter Janet Ingraham Dwyer, in the February 2011 webinar, Library Reading Incentive Programs for Summer and Beyond, and was updated in May 2018 by WebJunction. If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments below!

Image credit: "All Around Town Literacy Program" by the South Carolina State Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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