Great Stories Club

Great Stories Club: Reading and Discussion for At-Risk Youth

Application for Hack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution

RECEIPT DEADLINE: September 15, 2015

Date posted: July 1, 2015


Contact the American Library Association (ALA) staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Table of Contents

I. Program Description

The Great Stories Club (GSC) is a three-part, thematic reading and discussion program series developed to engage at-risk teens and other underserved audiences through literature-based library outreach programs. Participating libraries work with small groups of 6-10 teens, provide three theme-related paperback books for each participant to keep as their own, and convene opportunities for exploration and discussion of relevant humanities content among peers. Discussions are led by an experienced programming librarian, often in cooperation with staff from a partner organization or department, such as teachers and counselors.

The goals of the Great Stories Club are to:

  • engage youth facing difficult circumstances with powerful works of young adult literature;
  • facilitate personal exploration of universal humanities themes;
  • offer emotional benefits by reducing feelings of depression and isolation, and encouraging empathy through peer-based discussion groups;
  • encourage reading among non-readers, often providing the first-ever book that the at-risk participants have personally owned and read cover to cover;
  • facilitate reflection and discussion of past actions and future opportunities for positive change inspired by the titles;
  • establish important connections between at-risk youth, their public library, and their local librarian, as well as local nonprofits (e.g., museums, universities, cultural centers, churches, adult education centers, community centers) that have proven to be important to success after incarceration, treatment, graduation, or during other transitions;
  • contribute to improved literacy and changed, positive attitudes toward reading; and
  • inspire avoidance of future negative behaviors and outcomes in the lives of at-risk youth.

The GSC program also seeks to make a positive impact at the institutional and community level by:

  • prioritizing specialized, literature-based library programming for underserved groups;
  • establishing new partnerships between public libraries and community and cultural organizations;
  • increasing library use during and after the project term; and
  • providing a curated collection of literary programming resources for future use.

Up to 50 “Media” grants will be awarded to eligible institutions around the country to support program series that explore key humanities themes presented in the “Media” collection. Participating sites will host at least one reading and discussion event for each of the three titles on the “Media” reading list.

All GSC “Media” programs must take place between January 1 and May 30, 2016.

II. Key Theme and Supporting Works

The current theme of the Great Stories Club is “Hack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution,” developed by Maria Sachiko Cecire, Director of Experimental Humanities and Assistant Professor of Literature, Bard College, NY.

As long as there have been new communications technologies, people have worried about how media can control our thinking, and even alter the nature of how we experience being human. Today some researchers and journalists warn that our Internet culture may be making us less thoughtful, lonelier people, even as governments push for greater technological literacy and universal connectivity. How do media shape individuals and influence whole societies? The three books in this series focus on the stories of young people who learn to see the structures of power that underlie the mass entertainment and information industries in their worlds, and who use this knowledge to resist unjust and oppressive systems.

FEED by M. T. Anderson

FEED focuses on the process of “waking up” to how media shapes our lives and thinking. In the novel, most people in America grow up with corporate-owned data feeds directly embedded into their brains. These feeds barrage them with ads, entertainment, and news tailored to their consumer profiles, and allow instant access to information and online chats. At the start of the novel, the protagonist Titus is a full participant in the accompanying culture of consumerism that his friends, family, and even “School™” accept and promote. But after he meets the smart, inquisitive Violet on a trip to the Moon, Titus begins to notice how the feed controls him and his friends, and starts to question the dangerous and unequal norms of his world.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In The Hunger Games, the protagonist Katniss is well aware of the relationship between media and power in her country, but resistance seems impossible. Every year the Capitol forces teenage “tributes” from each of the twelve districts in Panem to fight to the death in an extended televised entertainment extravaganza. The Games are a gruesome take on reality TV that Capitol residents adore and the state requires district residents to watch as a punishment for past revolt. This modern version of the Romam Empire’s &ldquobread and circuses” reminds the oppressed districts of their powerlessness while keeping wealthy Capitol viewers too entertained to think about the injustices in their country. The Hunger Games is a stark reminder that those with economic, technological, political, and military power get to write the dominant cultural narratives. It suggests how even those utterly without power might be able to use the system to their advantage, to voice dissent and even create change. But, the novel asks, at what personal cost?

MARCH: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

MARCH is a graphic novel that tells the true story of how young black activists used mainstream media to help bring about an end to segregation during the Civil Rights era. It is a reminder of how often reality can already look like a horrific dystopia that must be,survived and revolutionized. MARCH shows how the mass media of the time helped expose the young Lewis to the mission of racial equality in spite of his rural Alabama upbringing. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts, and a comic book about the nonviolent ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. all helped to bring Lewis from a chicken farmer to a leader in the movement for desegregation. He and his fellow activists face humiliation and brutality during sit-ins and marches, but media reports of their courage and self-control win them the support of people around the country and put pressure on politicians to change racist laws. MARCH is an inspiring example of how self-aware young people can make the most out of even a media system that does not favor them.

Additional resources related to the themes are available on this website. ALA will continue to add resources to support humanities-based programming over the coming months.

III. Award Information

The ALA Public Programs Office will make up to fifty (50) Great Stories Club “Media” awards. Programming requirements appear below under Requirements for Grantees.

IV. Benefits for Grant Recipients

Recipients of a Great Stories Club “Media” grant will receive the following:

  • 11 paperback copies of FEED by M. T. Anderson (10 to gift to participants; 1 for discussion leader/library collection)
  • 11 paperback copies of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • 11 paperback copies of MARCH: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
  • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for attendance at the project orientation workshop for the library project directors, on November 16, 2015 in Chicago, IL.
  • Training through periodic project webinars, program planning guide, and other online support materials.
  • Online access to professionally designed, customizable, and downloadable resources for use with GSC program participants. Resources will include bookmarks, related reading brochures, discussion group sign-up sheets, certificates of completion, and promotional posters and flyers.
  • Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term, including participation in an online discussion list for participating libraries and partner organizations.

V. Requirements for Grantee

  • Each library must implement the humanities based book discussion programs described in their application (in cooperation with their program partner, if applicable).
  • Each library must hold a minimum of three book discussion programs with participation by 6–10 young adults.
  • Up to one copy of each book may be retained for use by the book discussion leader and one copy may remain in the library collection.
  • The libraries must supply the remaining books to participating teens to keep. The books will not revert to the library collection, but be a gift to the participants.
  • The library must complete an online final program report form by the June 30, 2016 deadline.

VI. Eligibility

Applications will be accepted from all types of libraries (public, school, academic and special) in the United States and its territories that meet one of the following criteria:

  • The applicant library must be located within an organization that serves troubled or at-risk teens (e.g., an alternative high school, juvenile detention facility, residential treatment program), OR;
  • The applicant library must work with a partner organization that serves troubled teens. Possible partner organizations include but are not limited to juvenile justice facilities, drug rehabilitation centers, nonprofits serving teen parents, alternative high schools, agencies serving teenaged foster children, and shelters serving homeless and runaway youth. Please contact or if you have a question about partner eligibility.

Individuals and organizations other than libraries are not eligible to apply. Federal entities are also ineligible to apply. Applications from organizations whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities may also be deemed ineligible. This does not preclude applicants from using grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.

Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

VII. Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for Great Stories Club “Media” grants between July 1 and September 15, 2015. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to To apply, you must complete the following steps:

  1. REGISTER(if you have not previously registered when applying for a different project)
  2. LOG IN (if you have already registered when applying for a different project)
    Provide text to complete each section for the proposal narrative.
    Using the table structure provided, include details about each program, event, or other activity described in your proposal.
    Include project director resume, partner organization contact’s resume, and letter of commitment from the partner organization (if applicable). You may also include sample program or promotional materials from past reading and discussion programs, youth outreach efforts, or other related programs.

1. Register

Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account.


2. Log In

If you have already registered when applying for another ALA Public Programs Office grant project, you may log in using your e-mail address and password.

3. Complete Project Director Information

Note: The project director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the entire proposed Great Stories Club “Media” series. He or she will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

To complete Step 3, provide all the information that is requested on the Project Director Information screen. You must provide a shipping address in order to receive book collections and related materials. You must then save the information.

After clicking the “SAVE” button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in using your e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save, and return to your application as needed prior to the September 15, 2015 submission deadline.

4. Write the Proposal Narrative

Before you compose the narrative section of this proposal, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your proposal is unlikely to be competitive.

Please answer each narrative section, describing your plans for hosting a Great Stories Club “Media” reading and discussion program series at your organization. The proposal narrative consists of six to seven sections(described immediately below). Please note that each section of the narrative may not exceed 500 words.

The narrative sections are as follows.

  • Please tell us why you are interested in applying for a GSC grant. Include why you believe the current theme (“Hack the Feed: Media, Resistance, Revolution”) will be meaningful to the individuals who participate in your programs, and what you hope to achieve for your library and your participants during the grant term. What will a successful GSC series look like to you?
  • If you are partnering with another organization, what is the nature of the partnership? Tell us about the work that this organization does, why you have chosen to work with them, the history of the partnership, and anything else that will convey how you will work together on the GSC program. Please enter “N/A” if you are not required to work with a partner organization.
  • Describe the population from which your Great Stories Club discussion group will be drawn. Include information about the individuals who will participate in reading and discussion events (e.g., age, gender, reason for at-risk status, other relevant background), and describe how the group currently relates to reading (e.g., reading levels, interest in reading, access to similar programs). If your program will target more transient populations (e.g., within a sentencing facility), explain how you will address this in a way that meets the GSC programming requirements.
  • How will participation in your reading and discussion group be achieved? Tell us how you will invite or require individuals to participate, how information about the program will be distributed, whether incentives like class credit will be used, and if there will be prerequisites such as behavioral or academic good standing. If you anticipate any challenges in recruiting participants, please describe them along with your plans to address them. Finally, please tell us of any other outreach or promotion that will be conducted in your community about the GSC (e.g., press releases, news articles).
  • Please clearly describe your plan to implement the Great Stories Club. Important information to provide includes how books will be distributed, how often discussion groups will meet (e.g., one program per title, or multiple chapter-specific programs), how discussion group meetings will be structured (length of program, lead presenters or moderators, discussion format, additional activities), where programs will take place and if transportation is required, and anything else that will help reviewers understand your proposed series.
  • Describe how you will highlight and explore the humanities content of the “Media” series. Beyond using book-specific discussion points provided by ALA, how will you encourage participants to think about how various media shape individuals and influence whole societies? How will you engage participants in personal reflection and meaningful discussion about past actions and future opportunities for change inspired by the titles? If activities, projects, assignments, field trips, or other materials (e.g., books, films, music) will be part of your programming, please describe them.
  • How will you evaluate your GSC series? Grantees will be required to submit a final report to ALA, describing how their programs went, recording attendance information, and offering other details about activity during the grant term. Please tell us how you will keep track of this basic information as well as evaluate your institution’s work on the project.

5. Complete the Required Programs Schedule

Using the table generator provided in the online application, provide a schedule of the programs, events, and other activities described in your proposal. As applicable, please indicate the date, location, event type/format, brief description, and anticipated attendance for each program that will be hosted during your series.

6. Upload Supporting Materials


Upload a resume for the project director, local partner contact person, and any other key speakers/presenters described in the proposal narrative.

Letters of Commitment and Support

Upload letter(s) of commitment from your partner organization. Other optional letters of support may be included here as well.

Sample Publicity Materials (OPTIONAL)

Upload samples of previous or current reading and discussion programs, youth outreach initiatives, or other related efforts.

7. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host a Great Stories Club “Media” series is an application for an award from the ALA, using funding provided by the NEH, an agency of the federal government. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the organization.

To complete this section, you must enter all of the information that is requested.

8. Review and Edit Your Application

The Review and Edit page summarizes all the information that you have entered, including your Project Director Information and your Proposal Narrative. From this page you can:

  • review and edit each section;
  • save the entire application and log out of the system; or
  • move ahead to certify and submit your application.
  • 9. Submit Your Application

    Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the “Submit Application” button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CST on September 15, 2015 Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible.

    Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review.

    You will receive an e-mail confirming submission of your application. At the confirmation page you will be able to print out a copy of your application. Print and keep this copy for your records.

    VIII. Application Review

    Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

    • Clarity and completeness of the application. Has the applicant supplied all required information, including all sections of the proposal narrative and the programming schedule? Are plans and ideas for programs described clearly?
    • Evidence of a workable and appropriate partnership (if applicable)
    • Target audience appropriateness and need
    • Quality and completeness of program description (including proposed dates, information about the target audience, plans to recruit participants, etc.)
    • The overall vision for the program series, including creative plans to engage participants with the theme, books, and related humanities content. How does this project relate to your community and your program participants?

    Another factor that may influence the final selection of libraries is the location of the sites. The selection team would like programs to take place in all regions of the country.

    Applicants are encouraged to address questions about the selection guidelines, process, and requirements to the ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

    IX. Review and Selection Process

    Each application will be assessed by a panel of librarians, Great Stories Club project advisors, and ALA project staff. All applicants will be notified of their award status on September 30, 2015.

    X. Award Administration Information

    Event Date
    Application deadline: September 15, 2015
    Grant notificaiton: September 30, 2015
    Book collections, promotional materials ship: November 16, 2015
    Required orientation program: >Monday, November 16, 2015, American Library Association, Chicago, IL
    Programming period: January 1 – May 30, 2016
    Required final report due: June 30, 2016, or within 30 days of final program (whichever comes first). A final report must be received before a library may apply for a second Great Stories Club grant.

    XI. Point of Contact

    If you have questions about the program, contact:

    Public Programs Office
    American Library Association
    1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045

To access the application system, sign in with your profile.