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Call for Applications: 2021 Library of Congress Literacy Awards

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We thank our colleague Dawn Stitzel, National Program Director, Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program, for contributing this post.

Teachers: Is your school or organization a nonprofit? Are you running a program having an impact on literacy? If so, then we at the Library of Congress Literacy Awards want your application!

Why Apply?

You could receive cash awards and public recognition for your work and have a chance to network with other award recipients.

An example of a school receiving one of the prizes is New York City’s East Side Community High School, the 2018 American Prize recipient.

About the Awards

Through the generosity of philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program honors nonprofit organizations that have made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in the United States or abroad. The awards also encourage the continuing development of successful methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy, and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading.

Since 2013, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has awarded $2,247,250 million in prizes to 136 institutions in 36 countries. By recognizing current achievements, the awards seek to enable any organization or program that does not operate on a for-profit basis to strengthen its involvement in literacy and reading promotion and to encourage collaboration with like-minded organizations.

Award Amounts

  • The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000) is awarded for an outstanding and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels to an organization based either inside or outside the United States that has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy. The organization will meet the highest standards of excellence in its operations and services.
  • The American Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels in the United States or the national awareness of the importance of literacy to an organization that is based in the United States.
  • The International Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels in a country other than the United States to an organization that is based either inside or outside the United States.
  • Successful Practice Honorees ($5,000) Each year, up to 15 organizations that apply in the three major prize categories are recognized for their successful implementation of a specific literacy promotion practice.

How to Apply

Visit for the application, rules, and other information.

A free, live webinar to answer questions about the application will be held on January 28 from 3-4 PM ET.  You must register to attend. Please see for details about registering. The webinar will also be recorded and posted on the Literacy Awards website.


Applications will be accepted until midnight, March 5, 2021

Meet the 2020 Award Winners

The Immigrant Learning Center, 2020 American Prize winner

Two students working on an assignment at the Immigrant Learning Center, 2020 

“The Literacy Award could not have come at a better time for the immigrant and refugee adults we serve. Many of our students are essential workers, and learning English is essential for them to get through these challenging times. This support is a vital part of making that happen.”

International Rescue Committee, Inc. – Pakistan Reading Project, 2020 International Prize winner

Teacher surrounded by students at the International Rescue Committee – Pakistan Reading Project

“We are grateful and honored to be recipients. This award allows us to drive greater awareness of the system-wide barriers that infringe upon a child’s right to read and the joy of being able to do so.”

National Center for Families Learning, 2020 David M. Rubenstein Special Response Award winner

Student enjoying a National Center for Families Learning activity

“In addition to the myriad tangible benefits the 2020 Special Response Award affords, it has helped draw crucial attention to the importance of family engagement, furthering our mission through advocacy on a national stage.”


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