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29th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program Call for Proposals

Nearly $880,000 Given Directly to Educators at Public Schools and Libraries across the United States

Recent EJK Mini-Grants Help Latino Students Embrace Their Heritage and Share Their Culture in Frankfort, Indiana, and Students in Auburn, Maine, have “Fun with French”

NEW YORK—October 6, 2016—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression in our diverse culture, celebrates the 29th year of its Mini-Grant program with a call for proposals.

Approximately 60 grants of up to $500 each will be awarded to qualifying teachers and librarians at public schools and libraries across the country. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2017, and decisions will be emailed to all applicants in early May, allowing educators to plan for the next academic year.

“For almost 30 years it has been our joy to award Mini-Grants to support teachers and librarians who reach beyond the standard curriculum—creating programs that inspire and encourage students in a creative and cooperative context,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “It is essential that educators have resources to create these special programs, and this year we’ve revamped our application to make it even easier for them to apply for funding.”

Since 1987, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has provided nearly $880,000 in support of Mini-Grant programs spanning the 50 states and the U.S. Commonwealth. To learn more about Mini-Grants, including this year’s criteria, visit Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grants.

Last year, in honor of Ezra’s centenary, teachers and librarians were invited to design programs that celebrated some aspect of the late author-illustrator’s books and his vision of childhood.

These two outstanding Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant programs celebrate bilingual education in our diverse world:

Empowering High School Students Through Posters Celebrating Accomplished Latinos (Frankfort, IN)

Members of the C.R.A.S.H. (Community Raising & Starting Heroes) Club in Franklin, IN, a group of high school students that helps raise awareness around issues that affect the Latino community, worked with graduate students from Purdue University to create posters shining a spotlight on distinguished Latinos, past and present.

The EJK Mini-Grant made it possible for the C.R.A.S.H. Club to purchase large poster boards, print the information that students researched, laminate the posters and create displays in the five schools that comprise the Community Schools of Frankfort, reaching nearly 3,000 students.

“Even though our community has made great strides over the years, being bilingual is still a stigma here, and as a result, many of our kids are losing their ability to speak Spanish and embrace their culture. For quite a while, we had wanted to make these posters to provide positive role models for our younger students. An EJK Mini-Grant made it possible,” says Esmeralda Cruz, Health and Human Sciences Educator and co-founder of the C.R.A.S.H Club, along with Jeanna Johnson, ELL teacher at Frankfort High School. “And the program sparked discussion among older students, educators and parents, too. I’ll see a parent look at the displayed posters and say to their child, for example, ‘When I was in school I knew about Benito Juarez or Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez,’… and from there, a wonderful dialogue begins.”

Creating the posters was an eight-month process. First, the C.R.A.S.H. Club created a list of 50 accomplished Latino professionals to profile. Then the students were each assigned to research one person, and to write and translate a summary. Drafts were reviewed several times in English and Spanish. The posters, which included an image or photograph, the summary in both languages and questions created by students and teachers, were laminated and placed in eye-catching displays.


LEFT: A member of the C.R.A.S.H Club, at the Community Schools of Frankfort, IN, puts the finishing touches on her poster on Vincent Fernandez, a Mexican singer, actor and film producer heralded for five decades as the greatest living singer in Mexico. This poster is one of 50 created with the help of a Mini-Grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The project is designed to empower Latino elementary students to learn about and take pride in their heritage.

RIGHT: High school students in the C.R.A.S.H. Club (Community Raising & Starting Heroes) of the Community Schools of Frankfort, IN, proudly show off their posters of 50 Latino professionals, past and present. An Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant made it possible for the Club to produce and display the posters, which included well-researched summaries of each subject’s achievements in both English and Spanish.

“Fun With French” Activity Kits Help Teach and Preserve the French Language (Auburn, ME)

Volunteer Doris Belisle-Bonneau, one of Auburn Public Library’s trustees, has devoted her life to teaching and preserving the French language and culture in the area. She had been working with Deb Cleveland, children’s librarian, to create a program for younger students, beginning with “Fun with French” activity kits. The EJK Mini-Grant allowed them to turn the kits into a full-fledged program that delighted students for many months.

“With the EJK Mini-Grant, we were able to create activity kits for older children as well as younger children around the Francophone cultures of Haiti, France, Canada and African French-speaking countries—supporting local families with recently adopted children from Haiti and local French-speaking immigrant families,” says Deb Cleveland.

The EJK Mini-Grant made it possible to create a four-week “Fun with French” program that became part of the children’s summer reading program at the Library. It included an hour of stories and singing followed by crafts for parents/caregivers and children to complete together. The new activity kits, presented by Doris, were the highlight of the program.

Three programs were added to showcase country-specific activity kits. In December, students got a glimpse of Christmas traditions in France with stories of Pere Noël and treat-filled sabots (shoes). Traditional foods—tourtière (French meat pie) and bûche de Noël (Yule log cake)—were offered and eagerly consumed!

In February, Canada was the topic and the activities were making “sugar on snow” candy and creating the Canadian Maple Leaf flag. Haiti was the theme in April, and the students explored geography, fruit of the island and the colorful clothing of the island’s residents.


LEFT: An Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant made it possible for the Auburn Public Library in Auburn, Maine, to create a French-themed program for students to help preserve the French language and culture in the local area. Pictured are several elements of the program’s “Fun with French” activity kits, which included stories and songs, picture books in English and French, flash cards, crafts and much more.

RIGHT: “Reciting French with a partner is one of the best and most fun ways to learn the language,” says Deb Cleveland, children’s librarian at the Auburn Public Library in Auburn, Maine. Thanks to an Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant, the Library was able to create a French-themed program for students to teach and preserve the language and culture in the local area.

According to Cleveland, many “Fun with French” participants were home-schooled, and their families welcomed the unique addition to their curriculum. “The Haiti program was particularly appreciated by a family that had recently adopted a young boy from Haiti—the family wants to ensure that their son continues to speak French and that the other family members learn the language as well,” she adds.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Founded by the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries; cultivating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experience of childhood in our diverse culture; and protecting and promoting the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in children’s publishing. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.  Keats.Imagination. Diversity.


Sheree Wichard



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