Sheree Wichard/Donel Young
27th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program
Call for Proposals—Common Core and Special Project Submissions Welcome
More Than $820,000 Given Directly to Educators at
Public Schools and Libraries across the United States–Deadline March 31st
African Immigrant Middle Schoolers in Maine and “Readers on the Move” StoryWalk®
in North Carolina Among Recent Winners
NEW YORK—February 17, 2015—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression in our diverse culture, celebrates the 27th year of its Mini-Grant Program with a call for proposals. Approximately 60 grants of up to $500 each will be awarded to qualifying teachers and librarians at public schools and libraries across the United States. The deadline for grant submissions has been extended to March 31, 2015, and decisions will be emailed to all applicants by May 1, allowing educators to plan for the next academic year accordingly.
“Teachers and librarians across the country are creating exceptional Mini-Grant programs that are not only inventive and tailored to the students’ needs, but also meet the Common Core Standards,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “This year’s grant recipients have gone above and beyond, inspiring their students to stretch their imaginations and explore their world. We are committed to directly supporting such exceptional educators whose programs will foster creativity, cooperation and interaction with a diverse community.”
Since 1987, the Foundation, established by the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, has provided more than $820,000 in support of Mini-Grant programs spanning the 50 states and the U.S. Commonwealth. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program and to apply, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org/section/ezra-jack-keats-mini-grant-program-for-public-libraries-public-schools.
Featured on the Foundation’s website is a gallery of past outstanding Mini-Grant programs, including these:
A Place for You: A Book About Our City (Lewiston Middle School, Lewiston, Maine)
Keats’ books, which depicted characters that had not been shown in children’s literature before, inspired middle schoolers from the large immigrant community there, including Somalis, Eritreans and Kenyans, to create a book that would reflect their own experience. They worked in teams to explore Lewiston and its history and then write about it. The self-published book—A Place for You: A Book About Our City—is filled with their illustrations and observations of their new community and was shared with others in the larger community to use and enjoy.
“Through this EJK Mini-Grant, we were able to create a program to help newcomers become more familiar with their community and more confident in their writing skills,” says Jenn Carter, 21st Century Program Director, Lewiston Public Schools. “Their book received positive recognition from our community and the students are very proud of their accomplishment.”
Middle schoolers from the large immigrant community in Lewiston, Maine, including these students, were inspired by Keats’ books depicting characters not shown before in children’s literature, and wanted to share their own experience. Thanks to the Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant award, they gathered last summer to explore their new city, and then made illustrations and observations, which they self-published in a book called A Place for You: A Book About Our City.
Left photo by Folio Marketing + Creative
Readers on the Move StoryWalk® (The Library at the Ruby C. Hunt YMCA, Shelby, North Carolina)
Families have been spending time together reading popular children’s books as they hop, skip, twirl and run from post to post, where each page of the featured book is displayed along the Fitness Trail on the grounds of the YMCA. Classics highlighting outdoor exploration, adventure and nature have included Keats’ The Snowy Day and Over in the Meadow, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Dr. Seuss’ Great Day for Up.
“We are a young and small library, and the budget is extremely limited. This program would not have been possible for us without the EJK Mini-Grant,” says Karen Bell, Media Specialist at the library. “Through this program, we have been able to build community, contribute to reading readiness, and promote the physical well-being of families. Since creating our StoryWalk®, the number of visitors to the library has increased by 25 percent—a major achievement for us!”
About the Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program
Public education is one of the greatest legacies of our country, one that benefits children from every walk of life. For Keats, it was at public school that he received his greatest encouragement to pursue his vocation as an artist and at the public library that he found a haven that introduced him to the wonders of art history. To offer a similar experience to new generations, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation created the Mini-Grant Program.
About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Founded by the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries; cultivating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experience of childhood in our diverse culture; and protecting and promoting the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. Keats. Imagination. Diversity.