Grants for Books for Elementary Schools

Several foundations help provide books for elementary school libraries.
Several foundations help provide books for elementary school libraries. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

In order to improve literacy by building up school libraries, various foundations and companies offer grants to schools for the purchase of books and other literacy-related materials. Some of the grant programs require the schools to match the amount donated to maximize the number of books that can be received.

Books Across America

The NEA Foundation ( offers $1,000 cash grants through its Books Across America program. The grants must be used toward the purchase of books and other reading materials for school libraries. At least seventy percent of students in the school must be eligible for free or reduced lunches in order for the school to receive the grant. Applications can be made on line; they should include an explanation of how the grant will be used and a list of books and materials that will be purchased.

Laura Bush Foundation

Grants of up to $6,000 are available from the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries ( These grants are awarded annually to schools that demonstrate a need to update and expand their library's book collections. Just under 200 grants are awarded each year. An extensive application is available on line each November, with deadlines for submission at the end of December.

LEF Books

The Literacy Empowerment Foundation ( offers book collections for schools to purchase at $320 each. For each collection purchased, the foundation will provide a matching grant for another collection of books that the school chooses. Any purchase from $100 to $20,000 will be matched, which allows schools to receive up to an extra $20,000 worth of books free. Orders can be placed on line.

Rock for Reading

Schools and organizations in the Chicago area can apply for a Rock for Reading ( grant. Grants range in amounts from $1,000 to $10,000 with the majority of grants being awarded in the $1,000 to $3,000 range; they can be used to purchase books and promote reading. The online application requires that schools submit a short proposal summary identifying the number of students affected by the grant and the types of books requested. Recipients awarded the grant are sent a catalog of books to order from.

Literacy for a Lifetime

Usborne Books ( and Kane/Miller Books ( offer the Literacy for a Lifetime grant program, which allows schools to purchase books using grant money or donated money and receive fifty percent in additional books free. For example, if a school uses $2,000 of grant money to purchase books, it will receive an additional $1,000 in books through the Literacy for a Lifetime grant program. The program is offered year-round. Usborne offers free shipping on materials purchased through the program.

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