Innovative Approaches to Literacy

The Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program supports high-quality programs designed to develop and improve literacy skills for children and students from birth through 12th grade in high-need local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools, typically through a school library. IAL promotes innovative literacy programs that support the development of literacy skills in low-income communities and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

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. IAL Grants can support literacy training for librarian educators, purchase and use of E-readers, and purchase and distribution of books and other materials for young students to read with their families.

From 2002 to 2010, the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program had been the primary source for federal funding of school libraries. 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).