Mar 5, 2013
Curtis Rogers

Library of Congress Literacy Awards

Reading and success are inextricably linked. Those who read well and widely throughout their lifetimes are much more likely to achieve success and satisfaction in life. Our nation was founded on the written word, and reading is fundamental to maintaining our dynamic democracy.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards is a new program that will recognize and support individuals and institutions in the United States and abroad that have made significant contributions to combating illiteracy and aliteracy (having the ability to read but simply not exercising the skill).

The literacy awards program is administered by the Library’s Center for the Book. Final selection of prize winners will be made by the Librarian of Congress, who will solicit recommendations from literacy experts on an Advisory Board.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards program is made possible through the generosity of David M. Rubenstein, a major donor to Library of Congress programs, including its annual National Book Festival.

  • Read the press release about the Library of Congress Literacy Awards.

Beginning in 2013, three prizes will be awarded annually:

  • The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000), for a groundbreaking contribution to the sustained advancement of literacy by any individual or entity worldwide
  •  The American Prize ($50,000), for a project developed and implemented during the past decade with special emphasis on combating aliteracy
  • The International Prize ($50,000), for the work of an individual, nation or nongovernmental organization working in a specific country or region

Criteria for selection:

  • innovation
  • replicability
  • sustainability
  • measurable impact
  • demonstrated reliance on existing professional literature and applied practice

Who will be considered?

Individuals, institutions and organizations that are working to reduce illiteracy or aliteracy.

Individuals might include, but are not limited to:

  • Educators
  • Librarians
  • School media/technology specialists
  • Community leaders

Institutions, Nongovernmental and Nonprofit Organizations might include:

  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations such as literacy groups, museums, community-based programs, school or library organizations, foundations

How many award categories may be selected?

  • Individuals may apply or nominate in more than one award category, if appropriate. A separate application must be submitted for each award you apply for.

What do we want to know?

If you are nominating yourself, your organization, another individual or another organization for an award in recognition of groundbreaking, innovative and highly successful work in the field of literacy, describe:

  • the program or project in general
  • the specific elements of the program or project that address the criteria outlined above
  • the methods used to measure impact/success
  • the difference the program or project is making (provide quantifiable information)

Please note that we are especially interested in programs that are highly innovative and could be replicated by others.


All applications must be complete and received by midnight (in Washington, D.C.), April 15, 2013. You will receive an email confirmation that your application has been received.


Please send all completed applications and inquiries to