Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program Awards Teachers and Librarians at Public Schools and Libraries Across 29 States Annual Program Celebrates Quarter-Century Mark

More Than $800,000 Given Directly to Educators Whose Programs Reach Beyond the Basic Curriculum to Inspire

NEW YORK, May 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This is the 25th year that the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has awarded Minigrants to teachers and librarians at public schools and libraries across the United States. This year, a total of 59 grants were awarded to educators in 29 states with each recipient receiving up to $500 for specific programs that they have planned for the next academic year.

"Reflecting on the past 25 years of the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program gives us great pride and satisfaction, knowing that we have directly supported so many extraordinary teachers and librarians," says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. "In an environment where educators have increasingly limited resources, we applaud those who have reached beyond the basic curriculum to create programs that inspire and encourage students in a creative and cooperative context."

Since 1987, the Foundation, founded by the late Caldecott award-winning children's book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, has provided more than $800,000 in support of programs spanning the 50 states and the U.S. Commonwealth. To receive an award, educators must have applied for funding for a specific program that fosters the love of learning, enhances creative expression and optimizes interaction between educators and students.

Among the programs supported by Ezra Jack Keats Minigrants this year are:

  • Bad River Traditional Outfit Creation Program (Bad River Public Tribal Library, Odanah, WI): To learn more about the Ojibwe culture, young adults and children at the Bad River Reservation's public tribal library will design and make their own traditional dance outfits. Specifically, they will come to understand what each color they select for their outfits represents as well as explore the different clans of the Ojibwe Nation.
  • Apple Head Doll Buddies (Creekside Elementary, Boulder, CO): Sixty 5th graders will work with their kindergarten and 1st grade "buddies" in pairs to make apple head dolls. The 5th graders will help the younger students peel, carve, soak and dry apple "faces." Complete with hair, bead eyes, a body and clothes, each doll will be one of a kind! The buddies will create a fictional narrative about their doll, recording each step along the way. This is the perfect project for 5th graders studying colonial times and kindergarteners exploring their five senses, with a goal of fostering a stronger sense of community and, by doing so, reducing the incidence of bullying in the school.
  • Our Neighborhood Garden, a Hands-on Project (Marjorie Younce Snook Public Library, Summerdale, AL): Children in this after-school public library program will read about gardening, learn firsthand how to plant and care for their herb and vegetable garden, and enjoy the fruits of their labor by drying their own herbs and making healthy and delicious salads, sauces and more.
  • Connections Forever (Riverdale Elementary School, Mt. Blanchard, OH): A 2nd grade class will write letters to nursing home residents and make monthly visits to share such activities as making snacks and seasonal decorating, capturing their experiences in a memory book for the residents.

Evolution of the Minigrant 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 Minigrant Program.

To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program and to view a complete list of award recipients visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org/minigrant-program/.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Founded by the late Caldecott award-winning children's book author and illustrator, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation supports arts and literacy programming in public schools and libraries across the country, with the goal of bringing the joy of reading and learning to all children while highlighting the importance of diversity in children's books. In addition to the Minigrant Program, the Foundation sponsors the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards, which honor books that, in the spirit of Ezra, portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family and the multicultural nature of our world. The Foundation also sponsors the Ezra Jack Keats/New York City Department of Education Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12, among others. For information about the Foundation, please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

Contacts: Sheree Wichard / Donel Young
718-788-9585 / 732-295-2406
sheree@wy-pr.com / donel@wy-pr.com  

SOURCE Ezra Jack Keats Foundation



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