Chester County Library Receives $10,000 American Dream Literacy Grant

The Chester County Library has been selected as one of 16 public libraries nationwide to receive a $10,000 American Dream Literacy Initiative grant from the American Library Association (ALA) and Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Chester County Library was selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process. Nearly 100 public libraries applied for the 16 available grants, according to the ALA Public Programs Office.

The Chester County Library is a close partner with the Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center (CC-OIC) of West Chester, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free adult basic literacy education and life skills programs that prepare individuals for employment leading to economic self-sufficiency. The Library supports adult literacy through its Adult Graded Reading collection, and by providing office space, computers, supplies and other amenities for the Program Coordinator of the Adult Tutoring Program. Staff from both organizations worked together to apply for the American Dream Literacy funding which will better enable us to meet the needs of our growing ESL population and continue to support Basic English literacy skills among adults.

With this grant funding, the library will expand and update its literacy collection, offer free workbooks to currently enrolled CC-OIC students, establish a dedicated ESL kiosk with interactive learning features, and support English tutoring pairs in the library with new iPads and other technology.

In addition to new resources, the library has plans to expand the twice-monthly English Conversation Group, coordinated by the Chester County OIC. The conversation groups allow non-native English speakers to come together in a casual environment to practice speaking English. Grant activities will begin in March and conclude in November of 2019.

The American Dream Literacy Initiative strives to develop 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. Since the program’s inception, more than 200 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.

The American Dream Literacy Initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.