Dollar General: One Corporate Philanthropy Library Grant Seekers Should Know

This May, Dollar General Literacy Foundation announced over $6 million in grants to schools, libraries and other non-profit organizations that promote literacy. Its recent offerings represent a threefold increase over their contribution from the previous year. This latest series of grants brings the foundation's grand giveaway total to $81 million. The press release estimates that Dollar General's efforts have helped around 4.7 million people continue their education and improve their reading skills.

Two of the foundation's initiatives will interest those looking for library support.

Dollar General collaborates with the American Library Association (ALA) to run an initiative called "The American Dream Starts @ your library." American Dream provides financial support for libraries that engage with their surrounding communities. Libraries with programs that help kids struggling to read like this one in Alabama, and those that work with pre-K level "new readers" like this one in Michigan are eligible to receive support.

American Dream tends to favor libraries with high concentrations of non-English-speaking, or newly English-speaking patrons. According to their 2011 report, Dollar General and LA lend about 70% of their support to the purchase of print material, and the other 30% for digital. American Dream's favored libraries in 2011 included those in the Carolinas, New Jersey, and Illinois.

"Beyond Worlds" is another Dollar General-ALA collaboration that involves the National Education Association (NEA) as well. Beyond Worlds provides relief for disaster-afflicted libraries by paying to replace damaged or destroyed books and equipment. To qualify for support from Beyond Worlds, libraries within 20 miles of a Dollar General must submit proposals within three years of a disaster, and furnish documentation on how they plan to spend the money.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation gives to non-profit literacy organizations based in most US states excluding Maine and a few others in the Pacific Northwest. Grants to libraries can be worth as much as $15,000. University libraries are technically eligible, but few seem interested. This is perhaps due to the small scale on which the foundation makes its grants.