Jason Reynolds/Simon & Schuster Travel Grants first recipients announced

For Immediate Release
Mon, 02/13/2023


Kimberly Redd

Program Manager for Certification and Talent Development

Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR)


CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Jason Reynolds/Simon & Schuster Travel Grants. Established in 2022, the grants are intended to support ALA’s work of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the library field.

The grant will cover the expenses of five Black or African American youth or teen services librarians or school librarians/media specialists who work in either public or school libraries. Recipients will receive up to $3000 (and not less than $1500) to pay for expenses related to attending the ALA Annual Conference including but not limited to travel, housing, registration, and a ticket to the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Round Table Breakfast.

Recipients of the first travel grants are featured below:

Monica Black, Elementary School Librarian & Webmaster, Shugart Elementary School, Garland, Texas. Black said she is looking forward to learning firsthand about the ALA committees and leadership roles. Black believes that attending the ALA 2023 Annual Conference will contribute to her professional development in several ways, commenting that it will help in “making valuable connections with other Black librarians, allowing me the opportunity to learn and work with other librarians of color so that we can motivate one another, and in presenting opportunities to brainstorm and share solutions that positively impact librarianship in a way that opens the field to embracing more diversity.” 

Theresa Bruce, Library Media Specialist, Baltimore City Public Schools (KIPP), Baltimore, Maryland. Bruce said, “The ALA Conference will contribute to my professional development by providing many opportunities to engage and learn from others in the field.”  In addition to the personal benefits of “expanding her knowledge base in the library profession while helping to make connections with others who can serve as a network for years to come,” those at her home institution will also benefit. Bruce feels that attendance at the ALA Annual Conference will play a role in “identifying resources that could be helpful in building our program from the ground up and contribute to the learning of others through an exchange of experiences and ideas gleaned at the conference.”

Olivia Johnson, Library Media Specialist, Shanahan Middle School, Lewis Center, Ohio. Johnson is excited to have the opportunity to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. She said, “Attending ALA is going to allow me to connect and reconnect with library people who look like me and who have had similar experiences. Johnson views attendance at the ALA Annual Conference as a source of hope — building her the expectations of “finding resources of inspiration, joy, and authenticity to pour into myself so that I can continue to show up and better myself for my students and colleagues.”

Djeneba Muhammad, Teacher Librarian, Towers High School, Decatur, Georgia. Muhammad, considers it “imperative to have a great foundation.” She said, “I believe Valdosta State set me up, but this conference will land me in the actual world of “Librarian-ism. By attending this ALA Conference, I will be around my tribe.” Being present at the conference will afford Muhammad “the opportunity to learn more about advocacy as well as library policies and best practices.” Muhammad hopes to gain "insight/ direction towards [her] goal and focus of creating diversity in library collections.” Muhammad says, “I want to be the change I see in the (Library) world and attending the ALA conference will help me do just that.”

Raihannah Shuaib, Youth Services Associate, Mid-Continent Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri. Shuaib is thrilled to be a grant recipient. She said, “Receiving this grant would be incredibly significant for my career. I believe attendance at the ALA Annual conference would give me tools to learn new ways of helping teens in my area by identifying their needs and putting programs into place to meet those needs. It would also, allow me to connect with others, share experiences, and learn other methods to engage teens in our community.”

The recipients, who were selected by ALA representatives, will be acknowledged on Sunday, June 25, 2023, during the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Round Table Breakfast (CSKBART) at the 2023 American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Chicago. Grants are funded by Simon & Schuster and administered by ALA. Photos of each of the winners are available to view.


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.


Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a Carnegie Medal winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. He’s also the 2020–2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His many books include All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); When I Was the Greatest; The Boy in the Black Suit; Stamped (cowritten with Ibram X. Kendi); As Brave as You; For Every One; the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu); Look Both Ways; Stuntboy, in the Meantime; Ain’t Burned All the Bright and My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. (both with Jason Griffin); and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.


Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, one of the leading children’s book publishers in the world, comprises the following imprints: Aladdin, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Beach Lane Books, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, Denene Millner Books, Libros para niños, Little Simon®, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Paula Wiseman Books, Salaam Reads, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Simon Spotlight®. While maintaining an extensive award-winning backlist, the division continues to publish acclaimed and bestselling books for children of all ages. Simon & Schuster publishes numerous Caldecott, Newbery, and National Book Award winners. For more information about Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, visit our website at www.simonandschuster.com.