Libraries Ready to Code Opens Call for Applications: Virtual Learning and Enhancement Grants

For Immediate Release
Thu, 09/03/2020


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) opened applications for Virtual Learning and Enhancement Grants of $1,000 available for 90 school, tribal, public, and academic libraries. In response to increased demand for technical skills to lead and participate in virtual education during the COVID-19 health emergency, the Virtual Learning and Enhancement Grants focus on digital skill development of library staff and patrons. Applications are due Thursday, September 17, 2020.

“Librarians and library staff are rising to the challenges of virtual programming and continue to be thoughtful in how best to incorporate digital skills development into learning experiences for youth and adults,” said Marijke Visser, senior policy advocate in the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office and lead on the Libraries Ready to Code team. “We hope these grants will help library staff build their own skills and confidence now that virtual learning is a part of what libraries offer. The facilitated professional development also offers an opportunity for staff to learn from their peers which can continue even after the grant period.” 

ALA will partner with Five-Star Technology Solutions to execute the grant. The Five-Star team will facilitate a professional development opportunity to assist library staff as they develop virtual programming that engages students and patrons. Participating libraries will work with patrons to build their ability to use digital tools effectively to further their learning and career goals. Libraries will become familiar with Applied Digital Skills, Google’s free, online digital skills curriculum that provides video-based lessons to prepare learners of all ages for the future of work.

“With many youth and adults having to learn or work from home for the first time, it is more important than ever to provide opportunities to learn digital skills.” said Carina Box, Partnerships Manager at Google. “We hope these grants provide librarians the tools and professional development needed to continue to serve and support their communities in this new virtual environment.”  

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.

“The Libraries Ready to Code mini-grants have provided libraries with a small boost and connected them to resources that add to the suite of materials library staff turn to regularly,” said Sara Kamal, Manager, Public Policy and Libraries Ready to Code grants coordinator. “I’ve learned how creative library staff are in helping their students or patrons know which digital tools to use when, and how to use them effectively. These skills are ever more important as much of daily life is virtual.” 

Grant recipients will attend a training workshop with Five-Star Technologies and hold a program with patrons inspired by Applied Digital Skills resources.