Low literacy is a huge concern across the United States for both children and adults. According to ProLiteracy, 14% of adults 16 or older read at or below a fifth grade level and 29% read at an eighth grade level. Among those with the lowest literacy rates, 43% live in poverty. Schools and other educational institutions, as well as non-profit community groups, are trying to help this epidemic by providing literacy programs for both children and adults. There are a number of grants available to help such programs, and below is a list of selected grant opportunities.
This national retailer’s foundation is a wealth of grant opportunities for all ages and program types.
Adult Literacy Grants make funding available to non-profit organizations that provide assistance to adults who need literacy help. To be eligible, the organization must provide help in adult basic education, GED preparation, or English language acquisition.
Family Literacy Grants provide funding for organizations that provide programs with the following three components: adult education instruction, children’s education, and parent and child together time.
Summer Reading Grants provide funding to non-profit organizations and libraries to assist with the implementation or expansion of summer reading programs. These programs must target preK-12th grade students who are new readers, below grade level readers, or readers with learning difficulties.
Youth Literacy Grants provide funds to schools, libraries, and non-profit entities that help students who read below grade level or experiencing problems with reading. This program provides grants to purchase software, books, and materials for literacy programs, purchase new technology or equipment to support literacy programs, or help implement or expand ongoing literacy programs. Applications for all of these programs will be available January 2015.
The Wish You Well Foundation’s mission is to improve family literacy by supporting the development and expansion of literacy programs. Any 501(c)(3) organization is eligible to apply. The Foundation board meets on average four times per year (specific dates determined by the availability of board members to attend). At each meeting, the board reviews grant requests and determines which to fund. Organizations are notified as to which meet their request will be discussed. Most requests range from $200-$10,000.
The U.S. Department of Education funds this program to help literacy skills for children from birth through grade 12. Education agencies and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Eligible projects include those that support school libraries, that promote early literacy for younger children, that motivate older children to read, and that distribute books. Applications for this fiscal year were due in July, so start planning now for next year’s application. Funded school districts can expect grants ranging between $150,000-$750,000, and non-profit organization grants average $4.5 million.
While not technically a grant program, Barnes and Noble does support preK-12 school and non-profit organization literacy organizations in the form of sponsorships and donations. Applicants must be located in the community or communities in which Barnes and Noble operate, and serve the greater good of the local community or region. Partnerships must offer in-store events, visibility, and reach a wide audience. Proposals must be submitted to the local store manager for review.
Members of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) can apply on behalf of non-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) status for funding from the Tina B. Carver Fund. Eligible programs provide English as a Second Language Programming for adults. Programs that serve the hardest-to-reach students with limited resources will be given top priority. Annual application deadlines are January 31st, May 31st, and September 30th.
Schools, libraries, and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for grants from Target. Eligible programs must be targeted toward preschool through third graders only. Examples of eligible projects include after-school reading events and weekend book clubs. Each grant is $2,000. Applications are due between March 1 and April 30 each year.
Photo Credit: Evan Bench