For immediate release | July 5, 2016

AASL announces recipients of Inspire Grants

CHICAGO – At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced the inaugural recipients of two new grants made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers. The additions to the organization’s prestigious awards program provide funds for public middle or high school libraries to update their existing collections or plan a special event in order to enhance student learning.

The Inspire Collection Development Grant provides funds to extend, update, and diversify a school’s book, online, subscription and/or software collections in order to improve student achievement. Public school libraries may apply for up to $5,000 and up to $20,000 per year will be awarded annually. The 2016 recipients include:

  • Kelly Beckham, Kannapolis Middle School, Kannapolis, N.C.
  • Cheryl Goff, Carrie D. Kendrick Middle School, Jonesboro, Ga.
  • Shanna Miles, South Atlanta High School, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Leigh Morlock, Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies, Portland, Ore.
  • Chalice Tillis, Abbeville High School, Abbeville, Ala.

"I was so impressed with how school librarians from across the country designed projects to meet the needs of their student populations," said Julie-Marie Frye, grant committee chair. "In every proposal, I noticed an ethic of care. Ultimately, the proposals said, 'We care about our students who have been overlooked or abandoned, and we want to give them something they deserve that will make a difference in their academic, social-emotional or spiritual growth.' The applicants used circulation and collection data to determine what was missing from their collection and what books would inspire readers to gather, read and reflect together."

The Inspire Special Event Grant provides up to $2,000 in funding to a school library looking to engage students with school library resources and promote reading, books, literacy and authors. The funds can be used to create a new or enhance an existing extracurricular activity which will increase student achievement. A total of $10,000 will be distributed to schools annually. The 2016 recipients include:

  • Julie Abeska, West Bloomfield High School, West Bloomfield Township, Mich.
  • Catherine Andronik, Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, Conn.
  • Sara Frey, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
  • Leigh Graham, West Rowan High School, Mount Ulla, N.C.
  • Beth van Kan, Graham Park Middle School, Triangle, Va.

"The committee was excited by the high quality of programs and events being developed by all of the grant applicants," said Val Edwards, grant committee chair. "The selected applications showcased programs and events that will have a long-lasting impact on students. These programs and events were developed to meet the voiced needs of students and provide avenues for many types of learners to engage and enjoy literary experiences."

The American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)