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30th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant Program Final Call for Proposals

Nearly $970,000 Given Directly to Educators at Public Schools and Libraries Across the Country

Teachers in Brooklyn Use an EJK Mini-Grant to Create a Program that Combines Poetry and Art to Celebrate Community

NEW YORK—January 23, 2018—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression in our diverse culture, celebrates the 30th year of its Mini-Grant program with a final call for proposals.

Approximately 60 grants of up to $500 each will be awarded to qualifying teachers and librarians in public schools and libraries across the country. Applications are being accepted now through March 31, 2018. Decisions will be emailed to all applicants in May, allowing educators to plan for the next academic year.

“I want to encourage educators who need help putting their ideas into action to go online and fill out an application,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “Over the past 30 years and in the spirit of Keats, I’m thrilled to say that we have helped some of the most imaginative teachers and librarians across the country inspire students to read joyfully, think creatively and support one another.”

Since 1987, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has provided nearly $970,000 in support of Mini-Grant programs spanning the 50 states and U.S commonwealths. To learn more about Mini-Grants, including this year’s criteria, visit Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grants.

The Foundation welcomes Mini-Grant proposals focusing on any subject. The following is an example of an outstanding 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant program.

EJK Mini-Grant Helps a Diverse Body of Students Express Themselves Through Poetry and Art in a Celebration of Brooklyn

With an EJK Mini-Grant, teachers from M.S. 88, in Brooklyn, New York, bought art supplies for seventh-graders to illustrate original poems about their community. “My First Day” (right) was created by a student from Bangladesh who has lived in America for a short time. Student poets (left) listen to classmates read their poems at a bookstore, where they received certificates of commendation from the EJK Foundation.

Three classes of seventh-graders at Middle School 88 in Brooklyn, New York, spent one month reading, writing and analyzing poetry. Their main project was to write a poem and create artwork that captured the essence of their poem. Because many of the students speak English as a second language and/or receive special education services, the assignment was both challenging and confidence-building.


“My Brooklyn” was developed and planned by teachers Julie Schildkraut and Laura Silver, and taught with Maria Abramova, Lindsay Blankenship and paraprofessional Kerrylynn Conroy. The students, many of whom came to the United States fewer than five years ago from Bangladesh, China, Yemen, Mexico and Latin America, were encouraged to write about their observations and experiences of their adopted city.


Schildkraut notes that they all improved and gained confidence in their writing, editing and performance skills.


With art supplies purchased with the EJK Mini-Grant, Schildkraut says, “Our students had the tools they needed to bring color and life to their already beautiful words.” Says Silver, “The EJK Mini-Grant not only added another dimension to our teaching about poetry, it gave students a chance to follow in the footsteps of Ezra Jack Keats, a Brooklynite born into an immigrant family.” Their work is now part of a permanent, rotating exhibit on the second floor of M.S. 88.


Finally, the students were invited to read their poetry and display their artwork at a local bookstore, on subjects including sunsets in Sunset Park, the first day of school in a new country, tulips growing in Green-Wood Cemetery, and the pleasure of eating an orange. Readers received certificates of commendation from the EJK Foundation. The event left readers and audience hungry for more. The following day in school, the poets asked, “When can we do that again?”

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.


Recently, The Snowy Day was adapted by Amazon as a holiday special, which earned two Daytime Emmys®, including Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Program; and is the theme of a set of Forever stamps issued by the United States Postal Service. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

Keats. Imagination. Diversity.



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