Inspire COVID Recovery Grant

Sponsored by Marina "Marney" Welmers

Monetary Amount: up to $5,000

Deadline: September 30, 2020


These grants are being offered as a special offering using the current Inspire Collection Development Grants criteria, application, and rubric, but established specifically to address collection loss due to COVID, and increased need to remote access for learners. The timeline for submission is also shortened to open on September 1, 2020 and close September 30, 2020.

Through the generous donation of Marina “Marney” Welmers, an AASL member and retired middle school librarian, AASL is pleased to offer the Inspire COVID Recovery Grant, a grant so that an existing public middle or high school, who sustained loss in collection due to school library closures during COVID, to both recover their collection but also extend through more online and remote resources to address learner needs made evident during the closures. Purchasing can include books, online subscriptions and/or software collections, as well as accessibility extensions (hotspots, increased bandwidth, etc.).  The program is to satisfy the need to establish or supplement traditional print or online resources in the school library setting in order to realize sustainable improvement in student achievement at their school.

The Fund is $20,000 per year. The direct assistance grant shall be capped at $5,000. At least four grants per year will be awarded with the total number of grants determined by number of applicants, geographic distribution, and total unmet need as determined by the Jury. Of the total, at least two (2) grants up to $5,000 per year will be awarded to a public middle or high school that has 85% or more of its student population qualified for Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) program.


  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. It is expected that a certified school librarian at the campus, district, or regional level be involved in the selection or materials to be purchased.

  6. The school principal must agree to submission of the Inspire Collection Development Grant. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. Funds can be used to purchase books, whether they are hardbound print or a Braille volume, an audiobook on audiotape or CD-ROM, or an e-book to be added to either the circulating or reference section of the school library collection. Grant funds can be used to purchase magazine/serial copies or subscriptions, as well as DVD or videotape movie versions of books or plays. Funds can be used to purchase materials that are pre-processed when they come from the vendor. For Inspire COVID Recovery grants funds may also be used for accessibility extensions (hotspots, increased bandwidth, etc.)

  11. The following cannot not be funded by the grant: separate processing, for any processing service, or for salaries or stipends for individuals processing books in the school system, furniture, shelving, classroom sets of books, collections of books stored in closets, or collections of books on rolling carts of any kind, student/teacher guides to the book (in print or other media), a test/quiz/workbook, exercise book or commentary on the book, any software related to the book, or electronic book reader.

  12. Institutions represented by Inspire Collection Development Grant 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.

  13. The school library must be a first-time recipient of the Inspire Collection Development Grant.  All previous recipients are ineligible to apply.

  14. The school principal must agree to submission of the Inspire Collection Development Grant. The grant does not require that the district, the county, the state, or any other agency approve the application. AASL encourages the school to check with the district office regarding any pertinent grant application policies or regulations it may have.

  15. Within one year of receiving a grant, recipients are required to submit a report describing how this grant impacted the school library program. The report should include receipts on how the funds were allocated. If photographs or images are part of the project, the report must include digital copies of all release-signed photographs. (These reports could be posted, with permission of the recipient, on the AASL website, and on any other ALA website/webpage or ALA publication as requested by ALA.)

  16. Grant recipients must spend grant funds within the school year following the year in which the grant was given.


The Inspire Collection Development 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 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 Denise Gadson Woodland High School
Dorchester, SC
"On behalf of Woodland High School, I would like to thank the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Inspire Collection Development Grant Subcommittee for the AASL Inspire Collection Development Grant. We are excited to have been selected for this award, and would like you to know that your generosity will go a long way in ensuring that our students will have access to current material that supports our biology curriculum."
2020 Pamela Hubert Brooks County High School
Quitman, GA
"I am a new again library media specialist. I first joined the ranks in the early 90’s but circumstances changed the path I was on. Returning after nearly 30 years, I decided joining my professional organizations would be the best way to catch up and reconnect. That is how I learned about this grant. With this money I will be able to provide my students with up to date knowledge of computer science, ethics, economics, and biology."
2020 Samantha Kennedy Dunedin High School
Dunedin, FL
"I am the Library Media Specialist at Dunedin High School. I came to this position in the middle of the year during a time when we are trying to revitalize the library from an unused space to the vibrant heart of the school. My students and fellow teachers are a wonderful close-knit group of people and I am so very grateful to be able to support them as we rebuild our library after construction. Thank you for helping me support these special people."
2020 Ali Lauer Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School
Los Angeles, CA
"It is a joy to serve Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School as the teacher librarian. It is also a serious responsibility, especially as Griffith has not had a teacher librarian for many years. This grant allows us to update and diversify the collection into one that truly serves the students, reflecting their identities and interests more powerfully. Thank you for helping make this important work possible."
2020 Brittany Tignor Snow Hill High School
Snow Hill, MD
2019 Sean Casey Northeast Middle School
Minneapolis, Minnesota
2019 Melissa Iamonico Sprain Brook Academy
Valhalla, New York
2019 Lauren Mabry Andrew Lewis Middle School
Salem, Virginia
2019 Holly Schwarzmann Largo Middle School
Largo, Florida
2019 Ness Shortley Horton Middle School
Pittsboro, North Carolina
2019 Mae-Lynn Smith Great Oaks Charter School Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
2018 Carolyn Bushey I.C. Norcom High School
Portsmouth, Virginia
2018 LeAnn Dowty Kingsbury Middle School
Memphis, Tennessee
2018 Cynthia Johnson Longleaf Middle School
Columbia, South Carolina
2018 Shannon Knowlton Poplar Middle School
Poplar, Montana
2018 Samantha Marker Samuel M. Ridgway Middle School
Edgewater Park, New Jersey
2018 Stacy Udo Olympia High School
Olympia, Washington
2017 Jeanna Wersebe El Camino High School
Oceanside, California
2017 Haley Walters George Washington High School
Danville, Virginia
2017 Michelle Kruse Roosevelt Middle School
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2017 Laura Long Highland School of Technology
Gastonia, North Carolina
2017 Maria Ornes Kagman High School
Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
2017 Christina Gavin Jane Addams Campus Library
New York, New York
2016 Kelly Beckham Kannapolis Middle School
Kannapolis, North Carolina
2016 Cheryl Goff Carrie D. Kendrick Middle School
Jonesboro, Georgia
2016 Shanna Miles South Atlanta High School
Atlanta, Georgia
2016 Leigh Morlock Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies
Portland, Oregon
2016 Chalice Tillis Abbeville High School
Abbeville, Alabama