Inspire Special Event Grant

Sponsored by Marina "Marney" Welmers

Monetary Amount: up to $2,000

Deadline: February 1


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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Private, parochial, independent, and home schools are not eligible. Charter schools can apply if they are publicly funded.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. The Jury may take the school’s geographic location into consideration when determining grant awards.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. The school library must be a first-time recipient of the Inspire Special Event Grant.  All previous recipients are ineligible to apply.

  12. 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:

  1. The quality of the benefits this grant will bring to the community.
  2. A project plan that includes a timeline, budget, and clarity of purpose.

  3. Rankings based on a rubric that correlates with the ratings sheet

Download Criteria & Rating Sheets pdf icon

Download a Copy of Application  

* Please note: This downloadable version is for informational purposes only. All applications must be submitted online, via the Apply Now button that will appear at the top of the page when the next award season opens in early September.


Allison Cline email icon
Deputy Executive Director


Year Recipient School
2020 Cameron Carey Baldwin-Woodville High School
Baldwin, Wisconsin
"Baldwin-Woodville would like to thank Marney Welmers and AASL for their generosity in supporting our Library Media Center project. We feel very lucky to have been chosen, and this award will help us overcome a financial hurdle and leap forward in our progress. We feel the help we received will aid us in creating an environment which encourages more collaboration, improved studying, and increased resources for staff and students. Thank you."
2020 Amy Gammon Greenport Elementary School
Greenport, New York
"Greenport is a rural town with a high immigrant population. Many of our students do not have exposure to varied life experiences and learning. This grant will allow me to bring an author visit to our school and promote a love of reading and writing. I am truly overwhelmed for the opportunity to provide this experience to our students."
2020 Kristina Graves Schenectady High School
Schenectady, New York
"School Librarian and collaborative partner in the #SchenectadyReads initiative. What started as a small wonder around creating literacy experiences that reflect contemporary, relevant, and culturally responsive texts, soon snowballed into a transformative initiative. The Inspire Special Event Grant was vital in planning a kickoff to summer reading party with a DJ, carefully curated titles (particularly books by authors of color about people of color), and the perfect opportunity to promote the #SchenectadyReads Book Mobile schedule that ensures access all summer long."
2020 Tatanisha Love Loch Raven Technical Academy
Towson, Maryland
2020 Wamecca Rodriguez Yorkville Middle School
Yorkville, Illinois
2020 Shawna Ward Lindbergh High School
St. Louis, Missouri
"For the past three years, I have been a library media teacher at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis. Receiving the Inspire Special Event Grant will help cover the cost of hosting the author, Tiffany D. Jackson. During her visit, my students will discuss how we, in our high school, can deal with the societal problems Ms. Jackson raises in her books. It is through these conversations that positive cultural growth will occur."
2019 Wendy Carrington Northeast Bradford Jr./Sr. High School
Rome, Pennsylvania
2019 Melissa Cortese
Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School
Buffalo, New York
2019 Amanda Jones Live Oaks Middle School
Watson, Louisiana
2019 Lori Quintana Griffin Middle School
Smyrna, Georgia
2019 Anne Reis Homewood Center
Ellicott City, Maryland
2018 Kelly DeLeon Sussex Central High School
Georgetown, Delaware
2018 Claudine Dixon Greece Arcadia High School
Rochester, New York
2018 Michelyne Gray Cherry Creek High School
Greenwood Village, Colorado
2018 Justine Kay Benjamin Franklin Intermediate School
Daly City, California
2018 Jeff Treistman Denny International Middle School
Seattle, Washington
2017 Jillian Ehlers Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School
Forest Hills, New York
2017 Susan Kowalski Pine Grove Middle School
East Syracuse, New York
2017 Laura Long Highland School of Technology
Gastonia, North Carolina
2017 Paul McIntosh Wadleigh Campus Library
New York, New York
2017 Debbie Mortensen Classical Magnet School
Hartford, Conneticutt
2016 Julie Abeska West Bloomfield High School
West Bloomfield Township, Mich.
2016 Catherine Andronik Brien McMahon High School
Norwalk, Conn.
2016 Sara Frey Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
2016 Leigh Graham West Rowan High School
Mount Ulla, N.C.
2016 Beth van Kan Graham Park Middle School
Triangle, Virginia