Wamecca Rodriguez receives AASL Inspire Special Event Grant

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/12/2020


Jennifer Habley

AASL Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)



CHICAGO – Wamecca Rodriguez, school librarian at Yorkville Middle School in Yorkville, Illinois, is one of six school librarians from across the country receiving a 2020 American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Inspire Special Event Grant. Made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers, the grant program provides funds for public middle or high school libraries to plan a special event to enhance student learning.

Rodriguez will use the grant funds to support the activities and prizes of Yorkville’s summer reading program. Her goal is to increase the number of students who read for pleasure and grow their exposure to graphic novels. To do this, Rodriguez will incentivize graphic novel reading and plan activities that highlight the artistry and uniqueness of the format. Grant monies will help offer prizes for students to reach reading goals and for completing the summer reading program. The grant will also be used to increase graphic novels in the school’s curriculum and programs and invite graphic novelists to speak during the school’s fall family reading night.

Said AASL President Mary Keeling, “This comprehensive project includes summer programming for middle school students and parents, partnership with the local public library, and a major incentive for kids to read: the opportunity to attend a comic expo in neighboring Chicago. I’m impressed with Ms. Rodriguez’s plans to incorporate graphic texts for self-selected pleasure reading, curriculum projects, and cultural awareness.”

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 that will increase student achievement. A total of $10,000 is distributed to schools annually.

“The committee was extremely impressed with the quality of the applications and their contributions towards engaging and empowering students,” said Rebecca Gordon, grant committee chair. “The grant recipients have showcased how the chosen events and programming will help schools foster community, collaboration, and creativity. These grants will allow the selected schools' learning communities to create a culture of reading and lifelong learning.”

“I’m thrilled that so many of the grant projects address issues of social justice, racial healing, and service learning,” said Keeling. “Through these grants, learners will be empowered to make a difference in their own communities and the world. AASL is exceedingly grateful to Marney Welmers for her continued financial support of the grant program. Her gifts celebrate the impact school librarians have on learners and school culture.”

The AASL award winners will be honored during a virtual AASL Awards Ceremony during the fall of 2020. The virtual ceremony will replace the live ceremony traditionally presented during the ALA Annual Conference. Out of concern for the health and safety of all members of the community, the ALA Executive Board felt it was important to cancel the 2020 conference taking place in Chicago. Details for the virtual ceremony will be shared as they are finalized. 

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