Press Release: 2014 EJK Mini-Grants Awarded

EJK Mini-Grants

Posted 5/28/2014

Sheree Wichard, 718-788-9585,
Donel Young, 732-295-2406,

26th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program Awards Teachers and Librarians

At Public Schools and Libraries Across 27 States 

More Than $820,000 Given Directly to Educators Whose Programs Reach
Beyond the Basic Curriculum to Inspire

NEW YORK—May 28, 2014—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression in our diverse culture, has awarded Mini-Grants to 60 educators at public schools and libraries in 27 states across the country. Now in its 26th year, the Program awards each recipient with up to $500 for specific programs that they have planned for the next academic year.

“Teachers and librarians have met and mastered an increasing number of educational requirements over the past few years. Despite these challenges, we receive an overwhelming number of inspired proposals for programs that go above and beyond what is being asked of them,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “We are proud to support these educators by giving them the funds to enhance the learning experiences of their students.”

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.

Among the programs supported by Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grants this year are:

  • A Day in Lewiston (Lewiston Middle School, Lewiston, ME): In a summer program serving, amongst others, the large Somali refugee community of Lewiston, 25 middle schoolers will work as a team to create a children’s book called A Day in Lewiston. The goal will be to draw a positive image of their community with the book, to develop closer ties between a diverse group of kids, and to keep middle schoolers’ academic skills from slipping during the summer months.
  • Poetry Inspires! (Kainalu Elementary School, Kailua, HI): To make the centerpiece of next year’s school-wide art show, third graders will hear and discuss poems in class, selecting one that has inspired them. Each student will then create a watercolor painting to be exhibited along with the poem, and write an essay explaining why that particular poem inspired them and how their painting relates to it.
  • “Wired” for Creativity (Beattie Elementary Public School, Fort Collins, CO): After hearing the book Sandy’s Circus, about noted sculptor Alexander “Sandy” Calder, third graders will explore ideas for their own wire sculptures through a “dreaming process” and storyboards. The sculptures, which may incorporate beads, colored masking tape, waxed linen and chenille sticks, will be created during studio time complete with “in progress” critiques and then displayed in the library as a reflection of the functional creativity in their school.
  • A Day in the Life (Carbondale Public Library, Carbondale, IL): Children of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale and seniors at Senior Adult Services will gather for read-alouds of Keats’ books, which often portray a realistic day in a child’s life. Each senior will then pair up with one of the children to share a similar story from the senior’s childhood. Stories will be recorded and portraits taken of the pairs, who will work together to create collage illustrations and simple text for incorporation into a larger book. The library will self-publish the book and host a Book Release Party to celebrate the accomplishment!

To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program and to view a complete list of current winners, visit

Evolution of the 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

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, the preeminent author-illustrator whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing.
Keats. Imagination. Diversity.

For information about the Foundation, please visit