From 2002 to 2010, the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program had been the primary source for federal funding of school libraries. However, in recent years the President and U.S. Congress have consolidated or zero-funded this program. In FY 2012, Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) recognized that school libraries need a direct funding source in the federal budget and were successful in redirecting money in the U.S. Department of Education to create the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).
In FY 2012, the first year of this redirected money, IAL was appropriated at $28.6 million. By law, at least half of this money must be allocated to a competitive grant program for underserved school libraries. The remaining money is allocated to competitive grants for national nonprofit organizations that work to improve childhood literacy.