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

PR Newswire — October 7, 2016

NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — 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.


“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

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.


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

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

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161006/416086
Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161006/416083

To view the original version on PR Newswire,

SOURCE Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

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