Wyoming (Ohio) Middle School wins ALA’s 2019 Jaffarian Award for poverty and philanthropy program

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/17/2019


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office



The American Library Association (ALA) has awarded its 2019 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award to Wyoming (Ohio) Middle School for their Poverty and Philanthropy class. 

The $5,000 Jaffarian Award, supported by the Cultural Communities Fund, recognizes excellence in humanities programming in libraries that serve grades K-8.

Inspired by statistics that showed that nearby Cincinnati had the second-highest rate of childhood poverty in the U.S., Wyoming Middle School Media Specialist Karen Reiber worked with two social studies teachers to create a curriculum about poverty and philanthropy. Participating students researched famous philanthropists, including how much money they donate, which nonprofit they support, and why. 

The program also features local philanthropists as guest speakers, including supporters of their school’s foundation, to help students understand the impacts that ordinary citizens can have in a community. 

With a $1,000 gift from nonprofit partner Magnified Giving, students were recently able to make their own charitable contributions to an organization that fights childhood poverty. They also held a school fundraiser to raise an additional $800. Students engaged in higher-order thinking skills by making public service announcements to convince the rest of the student body to vote for their nonprofit to be the recipient of money, making real world differences in their own community.

This year’s Jaffarian Award Committee was chaired by Jessica Gillis, a school librarian at Tobin Montessori Elementary School in Cambridge, Mass. Other members include Kelly Hincks, school librarian at Detroit Country Day School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Meghan Harper, associate professor of Kent State University School of Information in Kent, Ohio; and Melissa Hozik, adult programming librarian at East Brunswick (N.J.) Public Library.

The Jaffarian Award is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Applications for the 2020 award will open in February 2020. Application information, award guidelines and a list of previous winners are available at www.ala.org/jaffarian

To stay up to date on award and grant offerings from ALA’s Public Programs Office, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types.

About the American Association of School Librarians

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

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.