A newly released American Library Association (ALA) report marks the 10th anniversary of the American Dream Literacy Initiative and celebrates the many ways that participating public libraries have transformed lives, strengthened their communities, and advocated tirelessly for adult literacy and lifelong learning.
Funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the American Dream Literacy Initiative offers grants to U.S. public libraries to expand services for adult English language learners (ELL) or adults in need of basic education and workforce development. More than $1.5 million in funding has been distributed to 188 libraries since the program’s inception, reaching approximately 25,000 English language learners.
With grants of $5,000 to $15,000, participating libraries have developed new courses, expanded their print and digital collections, increased access to technology, implemented new strategies for inclusion, and developed sustainable partnerships with organizations across their communities.
View “American Dream Literacy Initiative: How 10 Years of Funding Has Helped Libraries Transform Thousands of Lives.”
Findings shared in the report include:
Employment is the No. 1 reason English language learners access their public library. Other reasons include supporting children in school, language acquisition, computer/internet use, education and citizenship.
American Dream funding leads to deeper community connections. More than 65 percent of participating libraries reported that their American Dream grant funding improved networking with community partners and other libraries.
Partnership is beneficial to program longevity. Grantees that developed partnerships were seven times more likely to have sustained their English language learner services.
The report also highlights successes from American Dream libraries.
Sterling Municipal Library (Baytown, Texas) saw library users increase 43 percent over the grant period; use of Rosetta Stone software increased from 252 to 426 hours.
Guilderland (New York) Public Library trained 24 tutors who worked with 35 students both one-on-one and in small groups.
Terrebonne Parish (Louisiana) Library System created Conectado, a campaign that included courses, story times and festivals to engage adult English language learners and celebrate Hispanic culture.
Louisville (Kentucky) Free Public Library purchased iPads and software to help students study for citizenship and GED exams, improve their pronunciation, and learn English idioms and grammar.
The American Dream Literacy Initiative is administered by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) and Public Programs Office.