“Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress’s spiritual founder, wrote of the pursuit of happiness. I like to think that literacy is fundamental to that pursuit. So many doors are closed to those who cannot read. Everyone in this world has a right to happiness and with that comes the right to read.” —Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
The Library’s mission is to provide Congress, the federal government and the American people with a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge that can be relied upon to support their intellectual and creative endeavors. Through the generosity of philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program furthers this mission by honoring nonprofit organizations that have made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in the United States or abroad. The awards also encourage the continuing development of innovative methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy, and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading.
Since 2013, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has awarded $1.5 million in prizes to 91 institutions in 28 countries. By recognizing current achievements, the awards seek to enable any organization or program that does not operate on a for-profit basis to strengthen its involvement in literacy and reading promotion and to encourage collaboration with like-minded organizations.
The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000) is awarded for an outstanding and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels to an organization based either inside or outside the United States that has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy. The organization will meet the highest standards of excellence in its operations and services.
The American Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels in the United States or the national awareness of the importance of literacy to an organization that is based in the United States.
The International Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels in a country other than the United States to an organization that is based either inside or outside the United States.
Best Practice Honorees ($5,000): Each year up to 15 organizations that apply in the three major prize categories are recognized for their successful implementation of a specific literacy promotion practice.
In addition to receiving cash awards, winning organizations have opportunities to participate in:
- A prestigious awards ceremony and reception at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
- An annual conference that encourages peer-to-peer learning, best practices promotion and collaboration.
- A robust network of literacy professionals working all over the world.