Libraries Ready to Code Opens Call for Applications: Mini-Grants for Digital Skills Programs

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/13/2020


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy

In advance of Digital Learning Day, ALA is opening a call for applications for $700 mini-grants to school, tribal, public, and academic libraries to design and implement programs using Google’s Applied Digital Skills resources. Applications are due February 14, and up to 290 eligible libraries will be selected to deliver at least 4 sessions throughout the programming they develop (e.g., drop in, multiple sessions, a spring break camp, or weekend workshop) that prepares learners of all ages to use technology tools.

Digital Learning Day, to be held February 27, 2020, is an annual event that promotes the effective use of technology tools to enhance learning experiences for youth. Since 2012, Digital Learning Day has served as a platform for showcasing innovative and impactful approaches to incorporating technology to enhance learning and opportunity for all.

“Librarians and library staff are adept at creating learning environments that encourage their patrons to explore their interests while challenging them to think about how to effectively use technology to go a step further,” said Marijke Visser, senior policy advocate in the Public Policy and Advocacy Office and the ALA lead on the Ready to Code team. “As important as providing opportunities for all learners to use different technologies, is making sure they build digital skills as they go. We hope these grants will provide librarians with one more suite of resources to draw from and we’re excited to think about 290 libraries raising awareness of the many innovative approaches to digital learning that librarians employ.”

This mini-grant program is part of Libraries Ready to Code, an ALA initiative sponsored by Google, that aims to ensure libraries have the resources, capacity, and inspiration to embrace activities that promote computational thinking (CT) among our nation’s learners. Exposing learners to learning experiences through which they can develop and practice digital skills to solve problems with real-life and interest-driven applications is an important part of CT. The initiative focuses on providing equitable access to opportunity and seeks insights from libraries that prioritize reaching learners from underrepresented groups and low-income households.

Applied Digital Skills is a free, online digital skills curriculum that provides video-based lessons to prepare learners of all ages for the future of work. Digital literacy, problem-solving, and creativity are often cited as essential skills for jobs of the future, but a report from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit reveals that among 18- to 25-year-olds, less than half (44%) believe that their education system is providing them with the skills they need to enter the country’s workforce.*

“As technology becomes more integrated into our modern lives, it’s important to understand how digital skills will help young people succeed in their current lives and future careers.” said Hai Hong, Google’s CS Education Outreach Lead. “With more than 90 standards-aligned lessons to choose from, Applied Digital Skills helps educators teach these critical digital skills needed for the classroom, workplace, and everyday life.”

Successful applicants will plan their own activities using tools and inspiration provided by Applied Digital Skills resources. Using Digital Learning Day as a launch pad, participating libraries will design and implement a program or series of programs that builds digital skills. To highlight the creativity and variety of library programs, they will share video, photos, and tweets using #AppliedDigitalSkills, #DLDay, and tag @ALALibrary and @GoogleForEdu during their program(s).


“As a continuation of Libraries Ready to Code, we’ll share highlights from what we learn from the mini-grant recipients,” said Visser. “We can’t wait to see the creative ways participating libraries integrate the Applied Digital Skills resources into their programs and we know we’ll gain valuable insights into what works well in the library setting. We are especially looking for how libraries are serving the needs of learners from underrepresented groups and low-income communities.”


How to apply for the $700 Digital Skills mini-grant

Visit the Libraries Ready to Code website for more information. Applications will be accepted until February 14. Up to 290 eligible libraries will be awarded mini-grants. Recipients will implement at least 4 sessions in multi-day or multiple sessions between Digital Learning Day and May 31. The mini-grants will be disbursed after selected libraries successfully submit a brief report on their activities to confirm they were conducted. Funds may be used for resources necessary for the participating library to enhance or expand its digital skills programming. General operating or overhead expenses and other indirect costs are not funded through this grant (e.g., utilities, equipment depreciation, etc.).

*Reference: 2015 EIU report, “Driving the skills agenda: Preparing students for the future