Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries - Innovation Grant

About the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries - Innovation Grant The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant provides support to a library for the initiation of a graphic novel service, program or initiative. This Grant will encourage public awareness on the rise and importance of graphic literature, sequential art, and comics as a literary medium.  The objective of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries is to facilitate library-generated programs and services that will promote graphic novels to library patrons and to the local community.Will Eisner (1917-2005) was an acclaimed American comics writer, artist, teacher, and entrepreneur.  He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of sequential art (a term he coined) and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential comic series, The Spirit; for his use of comics as an instructional medium; for his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature with his 1978 groundbreaking graphic novel, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories; for his 20 years of teaching at the School of Visual Arts, leading to his three textbooks. In a career that spanned nearly seven decades—from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics—Will Eisner was truly the “Father of the Graphic Novel.”

Administered by:

Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table (GNCRT) logo

Award and Frequency

Each winning library will receive a grant award of $4,000 to support initiatives that align with the objective of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries.  The grant award will consist of the following: 

  • $2,000 grant to purchase graphic novels from the Will and Anne Eisner Family Foundation,
  • $1,000 grant to host a graphic novel-themed event at a library or another community location, and
  • $1,000 grant to attend the ALA Annual Conference to receive their grant money.  This grant can be used towards any of the following: conference registration, transportation, lodging and food.

In addition, from the book publishers and the Eisner Foundation, the winning libraries will also receive the following graphic novels, valued at approximately $3,000:

  • The Will Eisner Library: A graphic novel collection of Will Eisner’s work and biographies about Will Eisner comprising approximately 40 books and;
  • Graphic novels nominated for the current year’s Will Eisner Awards at Comic-Con International comprising approximately 40 books.
This award is given out on an annual basis.


  • All applicants must be current members of ALA at the time the application is submitted (personal or organizational). Applicants' valid ALA membership number must be included on application cover sheet
  • The institution can be a school, public, academic or special library and must be located in North America (Canada, United States, or Mexico).
  • Existing commercial programs will not be considered.
  • Any library or Friends group may submit an application to the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant.
  • A library or Friends group may not submit an application to Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant and the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant in the same year.
  • Past winners of the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Award for Libraries are eligible to receive a Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant.
  • No library or Friends group should receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant more than two times over the five year period.
  • Institutions represented by the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant  Jury are eligible to apply, but Committee members must recuse themselves from the discussion and voting or decline the nomination if they have a conflict of interest.

Applicant Responsibility

Chosen Grant applicant must agree to take responsibility for organizing a recognition ceremony of their grant in their library. Grant winner will also submit a written follow-up report on their grant proposal detailing the results of event (including a final budget) within 12 months of receipt of the grant funds. We also ask that winners consider presenting a session at ALA Midwinter or Annual Conference about how the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant impacted your graphic novel event or program.

Application Instructions

For the Innovation Grant, applicants should submit one complete application using the online form and include a detailed budget and timeline. Your proposal narrative should outline how the library will use the grant to further public awareness or community engagement with the graphic novel format.

Applicants can find more information including sample applications, rubrics, and advice from previous juries and winners at the Eisner Grant FAQ page.


DEADLINE: January 28, 2024


Contact Information

Selection Criteria

The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant Jury will evaluate the applicant based on the following criteria:

  • A project plan that includes a timeline, budget, and clarity of purpose
  • The identification of the audience for the project and developing a program directed at that audience. The proposed project may be aimed at any audience served by the institution.
  • Originality of project and methodology showing a clear link between library objectives and community impact.
  • Demonstration of the ability of the applicant(s) to undertake and successfully complete the project
  • The potential to generate greater awareness and understanding of comics and graphic novels encouraging and inspiring life-long reading and education
  • The quality of the benefits this grant will bring to the community
  • The degree to which the applicant's philosophy reflects the spirit of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and the legacy of Will Eisner himself as an innovator and creator
  • Potential for project replication by other libraries


Winner will be notified by phone with a follow-up email with details.