Funding Sources

Don’t assume that you always need a grant.  Your skills in writing up a proposal for a program and its budget can be used in house as well.  In larger libraries often times youth services librarians write up their proposals for programming, and send them to another department where another employee looks through the line items for that year or the next and applies already budgeted monies to your new program idea.  It is always possible as well that your board will fund it for the following year if it can wait. 

Also, donors in your community will often give 1500 dollars or less.  You could receive 500 dollars or 1000 dollars toward your project without it being called a grant.  My first grant received was for only 500 dollars and came from an internal agency of which I was a part.  It wasn’t publicized anywhere because it was available only to organizations that belonged to the cooperative.  Your local women’s club might be a place to start.  It might be called a donation, a scholarship, a grant, or some other name but the process is the same.  You want to write out the proposal the same way you write a grant whether you turn it in to your employer, your local women’s club or a government agency.  Focus on your unmet need.  Most of the time, all you need do is ask.  A lot of money goes unclaimed or goes to the only asker from these agencies.

The Naperville Women’s club has a large donation fund.  (


Grants a brief overview:

So how do I find grant funding for my program?   I don’t even know where to start?  Remember Grant funding is for unmet needs.   You must identify what needs your program will meet so you can find a matching funding source.

Examples of goals for unmet needs in a school library or public library may be:
Improving children’s reading scores
Improving girls self esteem
Improving youth/girls math scores
Assisting disabled youth in becoming more independent (i.e., studies, vocational training, using technology in the library)
Your town doesn’t have a drug prevention program for kids

A great resource for starting out in youth services is Managing Children’s Services in the Public Library by Adele M. Fasick.  Check out chapter 14, which gives an overview of funding for the new manager.


The examples that follow are ways digital story projects meet the goals for your library.

Stories by youth and teens about  saying no to drugs and alcohol.
Live resumes by disabled teens highlighting their strengths to potential employers
Alphabet and phonics stories  by and for kindergarteners/1st grade.
Unique retold fairy tales, written by youth for self esteem promotion in girls
2 + 2 = 4 a Digital math story
Teens causes (intellectual freedom, the environment, human rights)


Your focus:

In this example, we will work with improving self esteem and math scores in girls  in Southern Illinois near Carbondale in a small town middle school.  There is a Foundation Center in Carbondale at the public library.  For a list of Foundation Cooperating Collections Information Centers check The Foundation Yearbook ; Facts and Figures on Private and Community Foundations, Appendix C, 2007.

If you start your search at a foundation, knowledgeable librarians can guide you through the print resources for grants available. 

The print Foundation guides are tiered: 

  • Guide to U.S. Foundations:  completely comprehensive but has no subject or geographic index. 
  • Foundations Directory:  lists most of the foundations but leaves out smaller foundations to make room for their subject index and their name index.  The book is organized by geography so you can choose your state and narrow down your search. 
  • Foundations 1000: lists only the large donors.  There are fewer listings however if you need a large amount of money it will help you narrow your search.


There are also numerous books that narrow down the focus by type of recipient, minorities, religious donations, women and girls, individuals and more.  One example is National Funding for Women and Girls

If you have limited time to sit and use reference books try The Foundation Center’s Guide to Grant Seeking on the Web. The first chapter directs you to the web site you need for the Foundation Center’s learning lab.  (


How much money do you need?

If you have a minimal budget and your schools board is conservative, looking for outside funding may be the best option.  You will need to purchase a digital video camera, and a software program, as well as a scanner.  Your plan is to work on the project collaboratively with an excited new teacher who agrees that girls in Southern Illinois lag far behind in math, which is part of a larger problem of low self-esteem.  Many of the families you work with are under educated and afraid of technology.  A lot of families are poor and use older computers or have no computers.  You will probably need less than 1500 dollars for your initial project.


Where do you start?

If you start with the foundations books at the library you can look up foundations that may have funded projects similar to the one you are proposing by starting with either subject or geographical listings.  If you’ve heard of a group that funds grants in your area or someone has mentioned a foundation name to you then look it up by name.  If you live in a rural area, you may find that either local monies or nationwide funding is better.  For example in Illinois a lot of foundations limit their giving to the Chicago Area.  The foundations in Bellville, IL limits their funding to individuals and pre-selected groups.  This limits the types of monies that can be received in Southern Illinois.  But just for the sake of doing our homework let’s take a look at National Funding for Women and Girls and browse under topic.  Topics that might be worth searching under include:

  • Mathmatics – girls and young women,
  • visual arts – children and youth,
  • Literature – girls and women.

Interestingly, there is no topic name for technology, digital anything, storytelling, or self-esteem.  Under the found topics, specific numbers are given to me for foundations that funded a project under that subject.  However, none of the foundations were in Illinois.  While it is possible to get a grant from a foundation in another state as to narrow the field next we’ll turn to Illinois next.  Many foundations fund technical grants, visual arts, TV and radio projects, projects for women and girls, but not outside of Chicago.  Some only continue their current projects, and some don’t accept applications.  John Deere gave a lot of money to the Girl Scouts and The Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation gave a long list of grants including many Big Brother Big Sister organizations across the nation.  Amounts ranged from 20,000 to 90,000.  Finally we find something that fits, except that our project is much smaller. Another organization, one that actually funds libraries, and has interests in Girl Scouts and Fire Control is the Kenneth S. Moore and Arletta E. Moore Foundation.  Maybe we should be doing digital stories about Girl Scouts who prevent forest fires?

So, now we take a look at grants that have been received by other libraries in Southern Illinois?  This is our first year after all and experienced librarians are a great resource.  But we don’t have to call them all on the phone.  We can look right on the library website to see what grants they may have received. Carbondale public received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation to develop of all things, their Foundation Center.  Their center caters to Non-profit organizations in the area to assist them in finding more monies.   The Harrisburg, Il public library received two grants through LSTA and publicizes those grants on it’s main page as well. ( 

Another avenue is to simply ask a librarian what grants they have received recently.   Answers received are as follows:



Here are some interesting grants we might keep for future projects.  Browsing the print materials is still a good way to find information.

The International Reading Association (
Government Grants (
The Technology Grant News (
The State Farm Foundation:  (

Frankly Google isn’t so bad

Try Google to see what happens if you ask for grants plus girls and math.  You may find others who got grants for girls and math (It’s ok, really, even librarians sometimes use Google):

Two grants awarded by the Mathmatics Association of America and the Tensor Foundation
The Main website for MAA’s Tensor Foundation

The California Girls Collaborative Project is a grant program funded by the National Science Foundation (

The  Pudget Sound Center:  For teaching learning and technology’s main page

The Grant (You may need to click on the link from the home page)


Final Thoughts:

Well, we didn’t find a grant that meets our specific needs this first time through, but that is ok!  Remember our local Women’s club?  Sometimes it is the process and not the result that matters.  Now we are ready to ask them for the money we need to get started on our project.  One would hope that a women’s club would support improved self-esteem, improved math scores and the use of technology for girls who may one day become members of their club.  And who knows, maybe someday one of these girls will be voted an Inspiring Woman, from the Southern Illinois University’s inspiring Women awards ( although there is no specific award here for your cause, either the organization or one of these inspiring women may be interested in assisting you if approached properly.  The key to success if determination.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  If we want to inspire young people we have to at first inspire ourselves.



Fasick, Adele M. (1998). Managing Children’s Services in the Public Library (2nd ed.). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

The Foundation 1000: In-depth Profiles of the 1000 Largest U.S. Foundations. (2007)New York: The Foundation Center.

The Foundation Center's Guide to Grant Seeking on the Web. (2007). New York: The Foundation Center.

Foundations Directory: Directory of New and Emerging Foundations. (1998). New York: The Foundation Center.

The Foundation Yearbook; Facts and Figures on Private and Community Foundations, Appendix C. (2007). New York: The Foundation Center.

Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors. (2007 ed.). New York: The Foundation Center.

National Guide to Funding for Women and Girls. (1991). New York: The Foundation Center.



Page completed by Nell Fleming


Nadene Eisner
Nell Fleming
Nicole Kaffel
Janet Vogel

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
LIS 506
November 2007