ALA Great Stories Club Application Guidelines for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Series

Great Stories Club

RECEIPT DEADLINE: Monday, July 15, 2019, 11:59 p.m. CST

Date posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Revised: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, to include the option of a community partner representative attending the Oct. 3-4 training workshop

Theme: "Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age"

Apply online:

Questions? Contact the American Library Association (ALA) staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

I. Program Description

The ALA Great Stories Club is a thematic reading and discussion program that engages teens who are facing difficult challenges through literature-based library outreach programs. An expansion of ALA's long-standing Great Stories Club program model, the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) series will feature books that explore questions of race, equity, identity, and history, and support racial healing sessions with participating libraries, their community partners, and their teen readers. This TRHT series — "Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age" — is supported by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Participating libraries will work with small groups of approximately 10 teens; provide up to four theme-related books for each participant to keep as their own; convene opportunities for exploration and discussion of relevant humanities content among peers; and offer sessions for program conveners and participants led by a racial healing practitioner(s). Book discussions will be led by an experienced programming librarian, often in cooperation with staff from a partner organization or department, such as teachers and counselors.

Because the Great Stories Club seeks to engage libraries in different areas of the country, serving high-need and diverse groups of teen readers, ALA invites interested librarians to get in touch if there is a specific need for flexibility with the program model or requirements.

The goals of the Great Stories Club and its TRHT series are to:

  • provide specialized library outreach programming to underserved youth, particularly those who are engaged with alternative education programs, the juvenile justice system, residential treatment programs, and other social service organizations in their community;
  • connect participating youth with powerful works of young adult literature that will facilitate personal exploration of and group discussions about issues of racial and ethnic identity, racism and equity;
  • provide opportunities for program participants to connect with racial healing practitioners through interactive sessions that will encourage participants to tell their stories, listen deeply to the stories of others, and begin building the trust needed for courageous dialogue, generative action, and community transformation and healing;
  • inspire teens to consider "big questions" about the world around them and their place in it, affecting how they view themselves as thinkers, creators, and contributors; and
  • facilitate reflection and discussion of future opportunities for positive change that will help all people recognize one another's humanity and value, inspired by the readings and activities.

The project also seeks to make a positive impact at the institutional and community level by:

  • prioritizing specialized, literature-based library programming for underserved groups;
  • establishing new partnerships between public libraries and community and cultural organizations;
  • connecting community organizations to racial healing practitioners and engaging community coalitions that are part of the broader TRHT effort nationally;
  • connecting library staff with racial healing facilitator training and apprenticeship opportunities; and
  • providing a curated collection of literary programming resources for future use in exploring issues of race and equity.

ALA will award up to 35 Great Stories Club grants to eligible institutions around the country.

Participating sites will host at least one reading and discussion event for each of the selected titles on the reading list. Grantees are also strongly encouraged to host at least one racial healing session led by an experienced racial healing practitioner or comparable expert. For more about recruiting a racial healing practitioner to work with your library's program, see the Resources page.

All Great Stories Club programs hosted as part of a TRHT series must take place between October 2019-March 2020.

II. Key Theme and Supporting Works

Applications will be accepted for the Great Stories Club theme described below as part of the TRHT series. Libraries may apply to host the series during the six-month project term, October 1, 2019-March 31, 2020.

"Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age"

Participating libraries will implement "Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age." This series was developed by Susana M. Morris, Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with GSC literature scholars and programming librarians and with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Growing from a child to a teenager to a young adult usually involves several rites of passage. While these events vary from culture to culture, they usually include educational milestones, parties that celebrate maturity, and special responsibilities that reflect newfound trust from one’s community. These moments can be both scary and exciting. Young people are not navigating these pivotal moments in a vacuum. Indeed, they are sometimes figuring out their morals, values, and increasing independence while living in societies that do not always value their newfound voices.

This circumstance is drawn into particularly sharp relief for young people in historically marginalized groups. Not only do they have to figure out all the “normal” stuff that comes with growing up, they must do so with the added burden of negative social pressure. Under these extra societal pressures, young people of color are forced to perform a type of high-wire act requiring more than the usual intelligence or even pluckiness; courage, bravery, and sometimes even heroism are required.

Growing up brave on the margins of society means moving forward in the face of fear and daunting circumstances. The books in this series feature strong protagonists who rise to challenges and fight for justice in the face of parents who may not always understand them, peers who doubt them, and communities who dismiss them or even find them dangerous.

Reading list

Applicant libraries may select up to four books from the reading list below.

  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • March: Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
  • Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older
  • X: A Novel, Ilyashah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
  • The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon

III. Award Information

The ALA Public Programs Office will make up to 35 Great Stories Club grants for “Growing Up Brave on the Margins.” Programming requirements appear below under Requirements for Grantees.

IV. Benefits for Grant Recipients

Recipients of a "Growing Up Brave on the Margins" grant will receive the following:

  • 11 paperback copies each (10 to gift to participants; 1 for discussion leader/library collection) of up to four books on the reading list: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona; The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas; March: Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell; Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older; X: A Novel, Ilyashah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon.
  • A programming grant of up to $1,200 for payment of a racial healing practitioner(s) and other programmatic expenses (e.g., additional books, audiobooks, journals, art supplies, refreshments).
  • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for attendance at a two-day orientation workshop, October 3-4, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois. Training will include a thorough review of the humanities content of the series led by national project scholar Susana M. Morris, dialogue facilitation training led by consultants to Everyday Democracy, and participation in a racial healing circle facilitated by consultants to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Participation is required for library project directors who have not attended a prior GSC training in 2018-2019. The workshop is optional for those who have participated in a 2018-2019 GSC training.
  • Some grantees may receive travel and accommodation expenses paid for library's community partner representative to attend the October 3-4 workshop. Those who are interested in bringing their community partner to the training may apply for this support within the GSC application. Up to 20 grantees will be selected to receive this support.
  • Additional training through periodic project webinars, a program planning guide, and other online support materials.
  • Online access to professionally designed, customizable, and downloadable resources for use with Great Stories Club program participants. Resources will include bookmarks, related reading brochures, discussion group sign-up sheets, certificates of completion, and promotional posters and flyers.
  • Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term, including participation in an online discussion list for librarians and partner organization staff.

V. Requirements for Grantees

  • Each library must implement the humanities-based book discussion programs and racial healing sessions described in their application (in cooperation with their program partner, if applicable).
  • Each library must hold a minimum of one discussion program for each book they select, with participation by at least 8-10 young adults.
  • Each library is encouraged though not required to work with an eligible racial healing practitioner, identified in their application, to convene a racial healing circle(s) with teen participants. Library staff members who have participated in ALA- or WKKF-supported facilitator training are eligible to convene circles.
  • If the library project director has not attended a prior GSC orientation workshop in 2018-2019, they must attend the two-day workshop in Chicago on October 3-4, 2019. Attendance is optional for library project directors who have participated in a 2018-2019 training, and optional for the library's community partner.
  • In advance of the workshop, the library project director must complete three (3) one-hour, web-based training modules: a Racial Healing Circle Methodology webinar, a webinar about microaggressions, and a webinar describing the project’s evaluation plans and requirements. The library project director must also complete two online Implicit Association Tests, which require a time commitment of less than one hour.
  • Grantees must confirm their programming schedules with ALA by October 1, 2019.
  • Up to one copy of each book may be retained for use by the book discussion leader and one copy may remain in the library collection.
  • The libraries must supply the remaining books to participating teens to keep. The books will not revert to the library collection, but be a gift to the participants. Please contact ALA if there is an institutional barrier to this requirement.
  • The library must complete an online final report form by the April 30, 2020, deadline, or within 30 days of their last program, whichever comes first. Libraries will also be asked to participate in project evaluation activities, which will be led by Become, ALA's third-party evaluator.

VI. Eligibility

Applications will be accepted from all types of libraries (public, school, academic, and special) in the United States and its territories that meet one of the following criteria:

  • The applicant library is located within an organization that reaches underserved, under-resourced, and/or at-risk teens (e.g., alternative high school, juvenile detention facility, tribal library), OR;
  • The applicant library is working with a partner organization that reaches underserved, under-resourced, and/or at-risk teens. Possible partner organizations include but are not limited to juvenile justice facilities, drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers, nonprofits serving teen parents, alternative high schools, agencies serving teenaged foster children, and shelters serving young adults and families experiencing homelessness. For a list of national organizations that serve youth and may have local affiliates interested in forging a partnership, please visit the Resources page. Please contact if you have a question about partner eligibility.

NOTE: Applications from public libraries, high school libraries, community college libraries, or others that are submitted without an appropriate partner organization MUST INCLUDE a plan to recruit a high-need teen population to be considered eligible. Please contact prior to applying if you feel that your circumstances merit special consideration or discussion.

Individuals and organizations other than libraries are not eligible to apply. Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

VII. Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for the Great Stories Club theme “Growing Up Brave on the Margins” from May 15-July 15, 2019. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to and complete the following steps:

  • Register for an account (if you have not previously registered when applying for a different project)
  • Log in (if you have already registered when applying for a different project)
  • Project director information
  • Partner organization information, if applicable
  • Book selection
  • Proposal Narrative
  • Affirm program schedule
  • Complete the project budget
  • Upload the library project director résumé
  • Upload the racial healing circle facilitator(s) résumé
  • Upload letters of commitment (optional)
  • Review and submit your application

Register for an account


Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account.


Log In

If you have already registered when applying for another ALA Public Programs Office grant project, you may log in using your e-mail address and password.

After clicking the “SAVE” button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in using your e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save, and return to your application as needed prior to the July 15, 2019 submission deadline.

Project director information

On the first screen, you will enter contact information for the person responsible for coordinating your Great Stories Club programming. They will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant library. Please be sure to include a shipping address for the applicant library, as all books and related materials will be shipped to the address provided for successful applicants.

At the bottom of this screen, you will indicate whether you are working with a partner organization. As a reminder, applicant libraries must be located in an organization that reaches a specific underserved, under resourced, and/or at-risk teen population (e.g., alternative school, detention center), OR must work with a community partner to be considered eligible. For more, see Section VI (Eligibility) above.

Partner organization information

If you answered Yes to the previous question, you will be taken to a page to enter information on your partner organization. If you are applying for support to bring your community partner representative to the October 3-4 workshop, please indicate that in this section.

Book selection

On this page you will indicate which three or four books you would like to use in your programming.

Proposal Narrative

Before you compose the narrative section of this proposal, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your proposal is unlikely to be competitive. Please answer each narrative section, describing your library's plans for hosting a Great Stories Club reading and discussion series. The proposal narrative consists of nine sections (described immediately below). Please note that each section of the narrative may not exceed 400 words. The narrative sections are as follows:

  1. Please tell us why you are interested in applying for Great Stories Club grant as part of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) series. Include why you believe the theme will be meaningful to the individuals who participate in your programs; what teens and staff may gain from engaging in racial healing sessions; and what you hope to achieve for your library and your participants during the grant term. What will a successful series look like to you?

  2. In American history, there have been structural barriers to equal treatment and opportunity within the economic, legal, educational, and residential components of communities. Tell us about the current realities of race relations within your community and any local history that has led or contributed to these realities.

  3. Has your library offered any previous programming or engaged in any community efforts to address the current realities of race relations in your community? If so, please tell us about those activities and the impact they've had.

  4. If you are partnering with another organization, what is the nature of the partnership? Tell us about the work this organization does, why you have chosen to work with them, the history of the partnership, and anything else that will convey how you will work together on the program. If you are applying for support to include your community partner in the October 3-4 orientation workshop, please tell us how that individual's participation in the training will benefit your GSC program and partnership. If your library does not plan to work with a community partner to recruit teen participants for your Great Stories Club series, please clearly explain why teen readers in your general service area would benefit from engagement with this project and how you will gain their involvement with your program series. For example, ALA will consider proposals from school libraries that serve alternative classrooms, libraries that are part of a juvenile justice facility or department of corrections, tribal libraries, and public libraries in high-poverty communities.
  5. Describe your efforts to identify a racial healing practitioner for this project. Please tell us about the individual(s) who will lead at least one racial healing circle as part of your GSC program, how you connected with that person, and/or how library staff have been prepared to facilitate a circle (i.e., staff person has facilitated sessions as part of the TRHT GSC pilot program). Additionally, please tell us about the library project director’s interest in participating in ongoing professional development opportunities that focus on facilitator preparation training. If you do not plan to work with a racial healing practitioner, please skip this question.

  6. Describe the population from which your Great Stories Club discussion group will be drawn. Include as much information as possible about the young adults who will participate in reading, discussion, and racial healing events, and describe how the group currently relates to reading (e.g., reading levels, interest in reading, access to similar programs). Tell us how you will invite or require teens to participate, how information about the program will be distributed, whether incentives like class credit will be used, and if there will be prerequisites such as behavioral or academic good standing.

  7. Please clearly describe your plan to implement the TRHT Great Stories Club. Important information to provide includes how books will be distributed, how often discussion groups and racial healing circles will convene (e.g., one program per title or multiple chapter-specific programs), how discussion group meetings will be structured (length of program, lead presenters or moderators, discussion format, additional activities), where programs will take place and if transportation is required, and anything else that will help reviewers understand your proposed series. As a reminder, grantees will be invited to refine these plans after attending the two-day orientation workshop.

  8. Describe how you will highlight and explore the ideas in this series. Beyond using the book-specific discussion points that will be provided by ALA, how will you encourage participants to think about the issues presented in the books, including concepts such as identity, cultural heritage, empathy, self-expression, institutional change, and justice? If activities, projects, assignments, field trips, or other materials (e.g., books, films, music) will be part of your programming, please describe them. Finally, please tell us about your plans to host a racial healing circle, if applicable. Describe any opportunities that you see for including racial healing work and the knowledge/skills gained during the GSC grant term in future library/community efforts.

  9. How will you evaluate your Great Stories Club series? Please tell us how you will keep track of attendance information, evaluate your institution's work on the project overall, maintain key relationships with community partners in the future, and offer referral opportunities for underserved populations after the project's conclusion. Additional support for program evaluation will be offered during the two-day orientation workshop.

Project Budget

Using the table structure provided, include details about how you will spend your programming grant to support the activities outlined in your proposal. This programming grant of up to $1,200 is intended to support your library's work with an eligible racial healing practitioner; however, funds may also be used to provide refreshments for readers, to purchase additional copies of books/audiobooks to reach additional readers, and for other items such as journals, art supplies, DVDs, and other related program materials. Grant funds must not be used to support indirect costs (i.e., general administrative expenses).

Program Schedule

Use this page to affirm that you will provide ALA with a completed schedule of all programs your library will offer during the grant term (October 2019-March 2020). Programming schedules must be submitted online following grant notification and will be due by October 1, 2019.

Select Mark as Complete to move on.

Upload your project director's résumé

From the menu of tasks on the left side, select Project Director Résumé. Use the uploader to attach this file.

Upload your community partner's résumé (optional)

From the menu of tasks on the left side, select Community Partner Résumé. Use the uploader to attach this file. If you are applying to bring your community partner to the October workshop, a résumé is required in this section.

Upload your racial healing circle facilitator's résumé (optional)

From the menu of tasks on the left side, select Racial Healing Résumé. Use the uploader to attach this file. If the library's project director will serve as the racial healing circle facilitator as well, please re-upload that résumé here. Note that only librarians who have had previous training experience in TRHT-affiliated healing circle facilitation are eligible for this role. If you will not work with a facilitator/practitioner, please skip this section.

Upload letters of commitment (optional)

If you have letters of commitment from your library administration, board, and/or community partner that you would like to share, you may attach them here. This upload is strictly optional.

Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host a Great Stories Club series is an application for an award from the ALA. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the organization.

To complete this section, you must enter all of the information that is requested.

Review and submit

When you have completed these tasks, click the Review and Submit button to go over your work, and then click Submit at the bottom of that page. Note: if your application is not submitted, it will not be considered for the award. You will receive email confirmation for your submission.

VIII. Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Target audience appropriateness and need
  • Evidence of a workable and appropriate partnership (if applicable)
  • Clarity and completeness of the application. Has the applicant supplied all required information, including all sections of the proposal narrative? Are plans and ideas for programs described clearly?
  • Inclusion of an eligible racial healing circle facilitator to work with your library and readers
  • Quality and completeness of program description (including information about the target audience, plans to recruit participants, etc.)
  • The overall vision for the program series, including creative plans to engage participants with the theme(s), books, and related humanities content. How does this project relate to your community and your program participants?

Another factor that may influence the final selection of libraries is the location of the sites. The selection team would like programs to take place in all regions of the country.

Applicants are encouraged to address questions about the selection guidelines, process, and requirements to the ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

IX. Review and Selection Process

Each application will be peer reviewed by programming librarians and ALA project staff. Applicants will be notified of their award status on August 9, 2019.

X. Award Administration Information

  • Application deadline: July 15, 2019
  • Grant notification: August 9, 2019
  • Book collections, promotional materials ship: September 9, 2019
  • Orientation workshop: October 3-4, 2019 in Chicago, IL
  • Programming period: October 2019-March 2020
  • Required final report due: April 30, 2020, or within 30 days of final program (whichever comes first).

XI. Point of Contact

If you have questions about the program, contact:

Public Programs Office

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045