Middle and High School Libraries: Inspire Special Event Grant

From the AASL:


Through the generous donation of Marina “Marney” Welmers, an AASL member and retired middle school librarian, AASL is pleased to offer the Inspire Special Event Grant. The grant opportunity supports a special event so that an existing public middle or high school library can create new or enhance its extracurricular activities in order to increase student academic achievement at their school. The goal is to provide direct assistance funding to middle or high school libraries for special short-term projects or events that would create new or enhance educational activities in order to engage students with and in the library and to promote reading, books, literacy and authors.

The fund is $10,000 per annum. The direct assistance is capped at $2,000 per grant.


  • The applicant must be a publicly funded middle or high school, grades 5-12, and have an existing campus library. Each library, regardless of the variety of constituents it may serve, is limited to submission of one application.
  • The grant is awarded to individual schools, not to districts; all schools in a given district are welcome to apply if they meet the criteria, but each school must submit an application that is specific to their needs.
  • Private, parochial, independent, and home schools are not eligible. Charter schools can apply if they are publicly funded.
  • The public middle or high school library must be located in the United States, with one staff position being held by a certified school librarian.
  • If the school does not have a certified school librarian on campus staff, the applicant can still apply if there is a certified school librarian available at the district or regional level who will work with the school on the selection of materials to be purchased. Regional level may include service centers or equivalent, university faculty, or staff of neighboring school districts.
  • The school and/or the certified school librarian do not have to be a member of ALA, AASL, or any other ALA division to apply; however, the jury may take membership into consideration when determining grant awards.
  • Schools that have 85% or more of its student population qualified for Free Reduced Lunch (FRL) program should include this information in their application to receive additional consideration by the Jury.
  • The Jury may take the school’s geographic location into consideration when determining grant awards.
  • Funds can be used to fund author visits, special events, contests, Book Clubs, Summer Reading programs, displays, etc. that engage middle or high school students with and in the library.
  • Institutions represented by Inspire Special Event Jury can be eligible to apply, but committee members must recuse themselves from the discussion and voting or decline if they have a conflict of interest.
  • The school library must be a first-time recipient of the Inspire Special Event Grant.  All previous recipients are ineligible to apply.


The application includes a two-page narrative that allows the applicant to describe their need and how they will use the funds. The following documentation is required with the two-page narrative: a project plan that includes a timeline, the number of students the grant will reach, a list of key staff involved in the grant plus a short biography of each, and an itemized budget.

Applicant Responsibility

The recipient must agree to deliver a final report within twelve months of receipt of the grant money. If photographs or images are part of the report, the school must include digital copies (300 dpi images or higher) of all release-signed photographs. These reports can be posted, with permission of the recipient, to the AASL website, and to any other ALA website/webpage or ALA publication as requested by ALA.


The Inspire Special Event Fund Jury will evaluate the applicant based on the following criteria:

  • The quality of the benefits this grant will bring to the community.
  • A project plan that includes a timeline, budget, and clarity of purpose.
  • Rankings based on a rubric that correlates with the ratings sheet


Shannon Carter email icon
AASL Program Coordinator

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