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Disaster Relief Grants for School Libraries

Thu, May 10, 2018 @ 11:05 AM / by Lauren Albright


Harvey. Irma. Maria. Communities devastated by these three hurricanes in 2017 are still rebuilding. The massive recovery process takes its toll on a community’s economy, infrastructure, and education system—the latter having a damaging long-term impact on students.

Many grant foundations recognize that learning includes the resources of both classrooms and libraries. By offering funds to rebuild school libraries in these disaster-stricken areas, foundations are investing in the future. Students in schools with endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests (Library Research Service, 2013). Additionally, schools with strong library programs have higher graduation rates, especially for vulnerable or disadvantaged student bodies (Texas Computer Education Association, 2017).

If your school’s library faced severe damage from a recent natural disaster, the following organizations may be able to assist. When applying, emphasize the positive impact of your school library on students and families—for example, better test scores, higher graduation rates, increased cultural awareness, and improved literacy—to demonstrate the importance of your funding request. 

Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Fund

If you work in a public school that has suffered substantial damage due to a natural disaster in the past three years and is located within 20 miles of a Dollar General store, the Beyond Words fund may be able to assist. Money from this grant can help you purchase books, media, and/or library equipment to restock the school library and support student achievement. Awards range from $10,000-$20,000. The Beyond Words grant prioritizes schools with the greatest need in terms of the extent of damage to the school library collection, impact on the library program, and impact on student enrollment, among other factors. Applications, available online, are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Additionally, each year the grant offers “catastrophic awards” of $50,000 to two applicant organizations that have suffered a loss of 90% or greater of their school library resources. No additional application is required to be considered for the catastrophic awards.

Inspire Disaster Recovery Grant

School librarians who are members of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) may apply for an Inspire Disaster Recovery Grant. This fund offers $30,000 annually to public middle school and high school libraries that have incurred damage or hardship due to a natural disaster within the past three years. Funds can be used to replace or supplement books, media, and/or library equipment. Interested applicants should submit a two-page narrative that describes their need and how they will use the funds, along with a project plan and timeline, a list of key staff involved in the grant, and an itemized budget. Applications are accepted year-round.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries

Since 2002, The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has awarded more than $13 million to 2,500 schools in need. This year, in light of the devastation caused by catastrophic hurricanes and devastating wildfires, the foundation is dedicating its resources to help schools rebuild their book collections. If your school library was affected by one of the 2017 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, or Maria) or the California wildfires, you may be eligible for this funding opportunity. All schools serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade—including public, charter, private, and parochial schools—may apply. Grants for this special disaster relief project may range from $10,000-$75,000. Funds may be used to purchase books (print or Braille) and magazine subscriptions. The grant application is available online, and grants are awarded on a rolling basis.

For more information about grants for general disaster relief, visit our blog post on this topic. For organizations wishing to focus on disaster prevention and preparedness, a list of resources is available in our blog post from March 2018.

Do you need information about other types of disaster relief grant opportunities? We can help find specific grant opportunities to meet your organization’s needs with our specialized Grant Opportunity Search. Find out more on our services page. Or start a free consultation with one of our grant experts by contacting us today.


Texas Computer Education Association:

Library Research Service:

Photo Credit: Lutfi Gaos

Topics: education, natural disaster, grants for disaster relief, disaster relief grants, disaster, Disaster Relief Grants for School Libraries, school library grants, school libraries

Lauren Albright

Written by Lauren Albright

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