Grants for Literacy and Community

New citizens reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
New citizens reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance during citizenship ceremony, May 2016

Two upcoming grant opportunities may help libraries address literacy and community development needs in New Jersey.

American Dream Grants

The American Library Association (ALA) and its Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services recently announced funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation that will enable a fifth round of American Dream grants.

According to ALA’s press release, more than 150 libraries have previously received grants. The funding has supported libraries that serve adult English language learners and that seek to:

  • augment their print and digital ESL collections
  • increase computer access and training
  • provide job training
  • hold English Language Learning, GED, and citizenship classes and
  • raise the visibility of services for immigrant populations.

The American Dream program awarded grants to several New Jersey libraries in 2014 and 2013. ALA maintains a list of the grantees from those two years.

Potential applicant libraries must be located within 20 miles of a Dollar General Store, distribution center or corporate office. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation includes an interactive map on its website to help applicants find Dollar General locations. In addition to applying to the American Dream program, libraries may apply separately to the literacy grant programs run directly by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Funding amounts will vary for this grant round of the American Dream program. Libraries in rural and small communities may apply for one-time $5,000 seed grants to develop their collections and services for immigrants. Libraries with the experience and capacity to expand existing programs, add services, and foster community partnerships may apply for one-time grants of $10,000.

The application will become available in the fall. Potential applicants may review ALA’s page describing the 2014 grant round.

Good Neighbor Grants

State Farm’s local Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants focus on community development, safety, and education. Within the area of community development, funds are directed towards job training, small business development, financial literacy, neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and first time homeownership.

Grant eligible organizations include educational institutions, government entities, and 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit organizations. Funding requests must be $5,000 or more.

Grant applications for State Farm’s 2017 cycle will be available Thursday, September 1 through October 31, 2016. See State Farm’s webpage concerning the Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants program for details.

About Eileen Morales

Throughout my career, I've helped museums and libraries in New York and New Jersey find funding sources for new projects. My favorite projects have utilized new technologies to increase public access to the photographs, diaries, and everyday objects that are not usually on display. My position as Grants Manager at the New Jersey State Library includes outreach to New Jersey libraries involved in the grant-seeking process. Email me at