RAILS My Library Is... Grants for School Libraries

Warning message

You must login to view this form.

View previous winners of RAILS Partnership and My Library Is... grants


In 2019, RAILS launched the My Library Is… campaign to help all types of libraries talk about their value. By creating resources like videos, talking points, and templates, RAILS sought to assist libraries in conversations regarding ongoing support and funding.

As an extension of the My Library Is… campaign for FY21, RAILS plans on addressing the needs of school libraries. The My Library Is… Grant for School Libraries is designed to help school libraries tell their story in a more coordinated and impactful way. These grants are being offered in collaboration with the Association for Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE).


This year's grants are specifically directed at RAILS school libraries.

Libraries can choose to work collaboratively (with other libraries, organizations, etc.) or alone. At least one project partner must be a RAILS member and a RAILS member library must be the fiscal agent for the grant application. Only RAILS school libraries are eligible to be fiscal agents.


Individual awards are limited to $1,000. We will fund up to $10,000 in total awards for the entire FY 2021 fiscal year. Grants will be awarded and funds distributed approximately 6-8 weeks after the application deadline.

Application Deadlines

There is only one deadline for FY21:

  • Friday, January 15, 2021

Video Applications

In lieu of a written description, school libraries may submit a video description of their project. The video must be hosted on a third-party video platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. To apply, simply paste a link to the video in the description section of the application.

Applicants must fill out all other areas of the written application, such as including contact information. Applicants should review the restrictions, conditions, and rubric (see below) before developing their video. Applicants applying by video must also submit a budget.

Criteria and Evaluation

See the My Library Is... Grant for School Libraries criteria and evaluation rubric.


The following types of projects will not be considered for RAILS' My Library Is... grants for school libraries:

  • Individual author visits, book fairs, conference/seminars, or any other one-time events that do not correspond with an ongoing promotional effort.
  • Building projects, vehicles, or purchases of furniture; please note that projects that include promotion/marketing of these materials may be considered, but funds cannot be used for construction costs or the physical materials themselves.
  • Requests for reimbursement of staff-time, wages or salaries.
  • Purchases of alcohol, gifts, or catering for events.

Grant Conditions

All conditions must be met to be considered for this award:

  • At least one project partner must be a RAILS member library; the RAILS member must also be the fiscal agent for the grant application; the fiscal agent will receive the check for any awarded funds.
  • The amount requested cannot exceed $1,000.
  • Grant recipients must submit a formal grant report within 30 days of the completion of grant activities. RAILS will provide a template to the primary contact after the grant has been accepted. This report will include an evaluation of impact and sustainability plan.
  • A copy of relevant invoices must be sent with the completed grant report.
  • Any unused funds must be returned to RAILS upon completion of the grant.
  • RAILS will not assist in funding costs associated with items deemed non-essential to the project, including but not limited to food, incentives, gifts, and prizes.
  • RAILS is authorized to promote the projects of all grant recipients through the RAILS website, social media, RAILS E-News, and other sources. Libraries are responsible for providing RAILS with information for publicity purposes.
  • Grant recipients are required to acknowledge RAILS financial support of their grant in any promotional activities.
  • Grant recipients must commit to making project products or outputs available for reuse under a Creative Commons license or otherwise freely available.
  • Grant recipients are required to write a blog post for the RAILS My Library Is... website.
  • Grant recipients are required to participate in RAILS Member Update to give a brief overview of their project.


Below are examples of types of projects RAILS is interested in funding. This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list. We welcome creativity and innovation and will consider both in the decision-making process:

  • Designing and printing brochures/flyers/handouts that describe the value of the school library
  • Planning a coordinated campaign to promote a library program/service or libraries in general using a variety of different media, including infographics, social media, video, etc.
  • Partnering with other libraries to develop new and innovative ways to promote library programs/services, such as social media contests or promoting the electronic resources available at the library.
  • Producing videos that show the value of the library or specific school library programs and services.
  • Producing a podcast that brings awareness to the library or the role it places within the school

Grant Webinar

On Wednesday, December 16, RAILS held an information session on how to apply for a My Library Is... Grant. That session was recorded and is now available for viewing below.