For immediate release | June 25, 2013

Two schools receive $50,000 grants from AASL Beyond Words and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

CHICAGO — Herald Whitaker Middle School in Salyersville, Ky., and Joplin High School, in Joplin, Mo. are the recipients of the first catastrophic disaster relief grants offered as part of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Beyond Words Grant funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

In 2012, Dollar General renewed its commitment to school libraries by increasing grant amounts and introducing two $50,000 catastrophic disaster relief grants. To qualify for a catastrophic award, eligible schools must have suffered a 90 percent or greater loss to the school library program due to a natural disaster, fire or an act recognized by the federal government as terrorism. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and can be accessed online at

Herald Whitaker Middle School Library Media Specialist Connie Hale, expressed her appreciation by saying, “Since the tornado on March 2 that destroyed our school, students have struggled with their limited reading selections. However, this grant has allowed them to see that it is possible for good things to come from bad situations. We are forever grateful to those who have made reading fun again for our students.”

Debbie Heim, library media specialist at Joplin High School, looks forward to returning to business as usual by saying, “Our school library was a safe haven for many of our students and it was a spacious place they could visit and do research as well as read for fun. Many of them rely solely on our school library since they do not have Internet access at home and live too far from the public library to use it regularly. Our school library was the place to go for many of our kids before the tornado, and this grant will help us become the hub of activity again for our students.”

“The students and teachers at these schools exemplify the resilience of the human spirit to move forward despite the most challenging of circumstances,” said Susan Ballard, AASL President. “In both instances, a devastating tornado literally destroyed their school, yet through the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, each of these schools can now focus on plans to rebuild their school library program in order to serve the needs of their learning communities. AASL applauds their determination to provide a quality program and Dollar General for being there to provide much needed financial and moral support.”

“At Dollar General our mission is Serving Others, and we have a deep commitment to do what we can to help those in need,“ said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “While we hope every library is safe from disaster, we are glad to have the opportunity to assist schools rebuild their libraries after disaster since they play such a vital role in the overall academic success and enrichment of students. The 'Beyond Words' grant allows Dollar General to extend hope and expedite the recovery process so libraries can return to their focus of serving others.”

Hale and Heim will attend AASL’s preconference session, “Beyond Words: How to Recover from a Disaster in Your Library,” taking place during the 2013 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago. Both will share their experiences in rebuilding their programs and applying for a Beyond Words grant.

Since 2006, the Beyond Words grant program has provided relief to public school libraries nationwide that have suffered materials losses because of a major disaster ranging from hurricanes, tornados, flood, earthquakes, fires or an act of terrorism. To date, more than $1.3 million in grants have been awarded to over 140 schools across the country. Funds replaced or supplemented books, media and/or library equipment within the school library or offset costs incurred by those schools opening their doors to significant numbers of new students displaced by the disaster.

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About the American Association of School Libraries

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.

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

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 more than 10,600 stores in 40 states. The company has a longstanding tradition of supporting literacy and education. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $81 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 4.4 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about Dollar General, visit


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications