For immediate release | June 11, 2012

Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Fund introduces catastrophic disaster relief grants

CHICAGO — The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has introduced two new catastrophic disaster relief grants as part of Beyond Words: The Dollar General School Library Relief Fund. The Beyond Words program, a collaboration between AASL and the National Education Association (NEA), is fully funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. To date, the program has awarded more than $1 million dollars in grants to rebuild and expand library programs at more than 130 schools affected by natural disasters across the country.

“While we hope that every library is safe from disaster, we are glad we can be there when libraries need us most,” said Denine Torr, director of Community Initiatives for Dollar General. “The catastrophic grant program allows us to extend hope and expedite the recovery process so libraries can return to their focus on serving others.”

As part of this new offering, a catastrophic grant of $50,000 will be awarded to two schools that meet the Beyond Words eligibility requirements and receive the highest application evaluation scores. Criteria for a catastrophic Beyond Words grant includes:

  • The library must have lost its building or incurred substantial damage or hardship due to a natural disaster, fire or an act recognized by the federal government as terrorism within the past 36 months.
  • The disaster destroyed 90 percent or more of the school library collection.
  • The school must also be located within 20 miles of a Dollar General Store, distribution center or corporate office.
  • The applicant must represent public schools serving students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
  • A narrative detailing the impact of the loss on the school and community must accompany the application.

Previous Beyond Words grant recipients that meet the above criteria may apply for a catastrophic grant. If selected, they will be awarded the difference between their already granted funds and $50,000. For example, a recipient of a previous $15,000 grant would receive an additional $35,000.

“When a school library suffers a devastating loss due to a natural disaster, the impact on student and teacher resources is unimaginable,” said Carl Harvey, AASL president. “Thanks to The Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s unwavering commitment to school libraries and the Beyond Words relief program, schools can use the catastrophic grants to not only rebuild a vital piece of their educational community, but restore a sense of normalcy.”

The catastrophic grant cycle will end on March 31, 2013, and recipient notifications will be sent by May 31. Application materials are available on the AASL website.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards grants annually to schools, nonprofit organizations and libraries to support education and literacy in the communities where its customers, employees and their families live and work. Available grants and a complete list of grant recipients are available at  Dollar General is a leading discount retailer with 10,000 stores in 40 states. The company has a longstanding tradition of supporting literacy and education. Since 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $71.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 4.1 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about Dollar General, visit

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional organization, representing 2.8 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. For more information, please visit


Jennifer R Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

800-545-2433 ext.4383