29TH ANNUAL EZRA JACK KEATS Mini-Grant Program Call for Proposals

Story courtesy of the
Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

As Hispanic enrollment increases at our colleges and universities, the question remains of how prepared are those enrolling to succeed and complete a degree. For this reason a look back to their elementary and high school training is a key indicator of progress. The complication is that many schools are experiencing unprecedented cutbacks in vital and innovative programs that could affect future learning. That’s why the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s contribution to encourage the love of reading by way of its Mini-grant program is so noteworthy.
The 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 fund programs that support teachers and librarians who reach beyond the standard curriculum—creating programs that inspire and encourage students in a creative and cooperative context,” said 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.”
Last year, in honor of Keats’ 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.
Here is just one example of the Ezra Jack Keats Mini-grant program promoting and celebrating bilingual education in our diverse world:
Empowering High School Students Through Posters Celebrating Accomplished Latinos
Frankfort, Indiana -- Members of the C.R.A.S.H. (Community Raising & Starting Heroes) Club in Franklin, Indiana, 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.

LEFT: A member of the C.R.A.S.H. (Community Raising & Starting Heroes) Club at the Community Schools of Frankfort, Indiana, puts the finishing touches on her poster on Vincent Fernandez, a Mexican singer, actor and film producer heralded for five decades as the greatest living singer in Mexico. This poster is one of 50 created with the help of a Mini-Grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The project is designed to empower Latino elementary students to learn about and take pride in their heritage. RIGHT: High school students in the C.R.A.S.H. Club of the Community Schools of Frankfort, Indiana, proudly show off their posters of 50 Latino professionals, past and present. An Ezra Jack Keats Mini-grant made it possible for the Club to produce and and display the posters, which included well-researched summaries of each subject’s achievements in both English and Spanish.

LEFT: A member of the C.R.A.S.H. (Community Raising & Starting Heroes) Club at the Community Schools of Frankfort, Indiana, puts the finishing touches on her poster on Vincent Fernandez, a Mexican singer, actor and film producer heralded for five decades as the greatest living singer in Mexico. This poster is one of 50 created with the help of a Mini-Grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The project is designed to empower Latino elementary students to learn about and take pride in their heritage. RIGHT: High school students in the C.R.A.S.H. Club of the Community Schools of Frankfort, Indiana, proudly show off their posters of 50 Latino professionals, past and present. An Ezra Jack Keats Mini-grant made it possible for the Club to produce and and display the posters, which included well-researched summaries of each subject’s achievements in both English and Spanish.

“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,” said 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 the questions created by students and teachers were laminated and placed in eye-catching displays. •