Dollar General stores sell everything from extension cords to men’s jeans and stuffed animals, all at rock-bottom prices. It’s not surprising that they have a philanthropic arm; many national retail companies do. What seems surprising is that it’s specifically earmarked for literacy—that is, until you learn about the history of Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner.
Turner was a farmer’s son, and dropped out of school with a third grade education when his father passed away. He was functionally illiterate. Dollar General Literacy Foundation was created in 1993 in his honor.
The foundation is sensitive to the many reasons people of all ages and walks of life remain illiterate, and it therefore supports a wide range of projects and programs to alleviate the roadblock to people’s lives and livelihoods. It boils down to this declaration: “Every individual deserves an equal opportunity to receive a basic education.” Practically speaking, the foundation fosters literacy to help people achieve post-secondary education and improved employment possibilities.
As a natural extension of this stance, Dollar General Literacy Foundation has multiple literacy grant programs: Adult Literacy Grants, Family Literacy Grants, Summer Reading Grants, and Youth Literacy Grants. In 2015, the foundation gave out more than 800 grants amongst these four programs. The range of dollar amounts is wide, with a span from $2,000 to six figures.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has one more grant program: Beyond Words. This is its school library disaster relief grant, administered by the American Association of School Librarians, in support of public school libraries recovering from major disasters. These relief grants cover more than books; they will also fund media and equipment "that support learning in a school library environment."
If this sounds like a whole lot of giving, that’s because it is. The foundation states it has awarded more than $98 million since it started up in 1993. And it gives throughout the country—namely, any state in which you can find a Dollar General Store. (Right now it lists 40 states; you can use the map or search engine to check on your location.)