Since 2008, 204 libraries in Dollar General communities have initiated or expanded literacy services for adult English language learners. The grants allow libraries to augment their print and digital English as a second language (ESL) collections; increase computer access and training; provide job training; hold English language learning (ELL), general educational development (GED) and citizenship classes; and raise the visibility of services for immigrant populations.
American Dream libraries build replicable programs, develop coalition-building strategies, and provide annotated lists of vetted resources for libraries across the country. ALA shares the libraries’ successes and strategies through our website, on webinars, and at state, regional, and national conferences. Through library-delivered services and community partnerships, the program serves thousands of English language learners and their families.
From the outset, the program has had a goal of developing tools and resources for libraries and library staff to provide effective literacy services to adult English language learners in their communities and across the country. Libraries are among America’s most democratic institutions — places of equitable access to education, information, and lifelong learning that strengthen communities and help create a more literate and just society. Libraries are also among the first institutions immigrants turn to for help with accessing and using technology and with learning how to read and write in English.
The American Dream Literacy Initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. It is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.
Through seven rounds of the American Dream initiative, grantee libraries have contributed to a comprehensive collection of print and digital resources for adult English language learners. These resources are available as a searchable database through LibraryThing. A subset of this collection is also available as an annotated list that can be downloaded.
Engaging Multilingual Communities and English Language Learners in U.S. Libraries, a toolkit on serving English language learners at your library, created by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, and Public Programs Office.
Reports on previous rounds of the American Dream program are available as digital supplements to American Libraries magazine:
- Dollar General Literacy Foundation
- ALA Public Programs Office
- ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services
- US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Citizenship Resource Center
- Libraries Respond: Serving Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers
Since its inception, the American Dream Literacy Initiative has helped libraries transform communities across the United States.
You can learn more about what has accomplished over the past ten years in the American Dream Literacy Initiative 10-year Retrospective Report. This report celebrates the many ways that American Dream libraries have transformed lives, strengthened their communities, and advocated tirelessly for lifelong learning. Look inside for key findings from a multi-year impact study, profiles of grantee libraries, and best practices from across the field.
Below, you'll hear from some of the American Dream libraries about how this grant has brought new patrons to the library, allowed libraries to expand their programming, and provided additional resources for adult learners.
The American Dream Literacy Initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.