Great Stories Club

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club Pilot Application Guidelines

RECEIPT DEADLINE: Friday, February 16, 2018, 11:59 p.m. CST

Date posted: Monday, December 18, 2017

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

I. Program Description

The Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club (TRHT GSC), is a thematic reading and discussion program series that will engage teens who are facing difficult challenges through literature-based library outreach programs. An expansion of ALA’s long-standing GSC program model, the TRHT GSC pilot will feature books that explore the coming of age experience for young people in historically marginalized groups and support racial healing sessions with participating libraries, their community partners, and their teen readers. The TRHT GSC is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Participating libraries will work with small groups of approximately 8-10 teens, provide three theme-related books for each participant to keep as their own, convene opportunities for exploration and discussion of relevant humanities content among peers, and offer at least one interactive session for program conveners and participants led by a racial healing practitioner(s). Book discussions will be led by an experienced programming librarian, often in cooperation with staff from a partner organization or department, such as teachers and counselors.

Because the TRHT GSC pilot seeks to engage libraries in different areas of the country, serving high-need and diverse groups of teen readers, ALA invites interested librarians to get in touch if there is a specific need for flexibility with the program model or requirements.

The goals of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club pilot are to:

  • provide specialized library outreach programming to underserved youth, particularly those who are engaged with alternative education programs, the juvenile justice system, residential treatment programs, and other social service organizations in their community;
  • connect participating youth with powerful works of young adult literature that will facilitate personal exploration of and group discussions about issues of racial and ethnic identity, racism and equity;
  • provide opportunities for all program participants – youth, library staff, and community partner organization staff – to connect with racial healing practitioners through interactive sessions that will encourage participants to tell their stories, to listen deeply to the stories of others, and to begin building the trust needed for courageous dialogue and enable generative action to transform their communities and heal;
  • inspire teens to consider "big questions" about the world around them and their place in it, affecting how they view themselves as thinkers, creators, and contributors; and
  • facilitate reflection and discussion of future opportunities for positive change that will help all people recognize one another’s humanity and value, inspired by the readings and activities.

The TRHT GSC pilot 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;
  • connecting community organizations to racial healing practitioners, and engaging community coalitions that are part of the broader Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation effort nationally; and
  • providing a curated collection of literary programming resources for future use in exploring issues of race and equity.

Up to 25 TRHT GSC pilot grants on the theme “Growing Up Brave on the Margins” will be awarded to eligible institutions around the country to support program implementation. Participating sites will host at least one reading and discussion event for each of the three core titles on the reading list, and at least one racial healing session led by an experienced racial healing practitioner or comparable expert. ALA will work with pilot libraries to arrange a racial healing practitioner(s) who is engaged with the TRHT process to meet with your TRHT GSC program group. The practitioner’s services and travel costs will be covered by ALA.

All TRHT GSC pilot programs must take place between May and October 2018.

II. Key Theme and Supporting Works

For the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club pilot, participating libraries will implement “Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age.” This series was developed by Susana M. Morris, Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with GSC literature scholars and programming librarians and with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Growing Up Brave on the Margins

Growing from a child to a teenager to a young adult usually involves several rites of passage. While these events vary from culture to culture, they usually include educational milestones, parties that celebrate maturity, and special responsibilities that reflect newfound trust from one’s community. These moments can be both scary and exciting. Young people are not navigating these pivotal moments in a vacuum. Indeed, they are sometimes figuring out their morals, values, and increasing independence while living in societies that do not always value their newfound voices.

This circumstance is drawn into particularly sharp relief for young people in historically marginalized groups. Not only do they have to figure out all the “normal” stuff that comes with growing up, they must do so with the added burden of negative social pressure. Under these extra societal pressures, young people of color are forced to perform a type of high-wire act requiring more than the usual intelligence or even pluckiness; courage, bravery, and sometimes even heroism are required.

Growing up brave on the margins of society means moving forward in the face of fear and daunting circumstances. The books in this series feature strong protagonists who rise to challenges and fight for justice in the face of parents who may not always understand them, peers who doubt them, and communities who dismiss them or even find them dangerous.

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

“Kamala Khan is a geeky 16-year-old Pakistani girl in Jersey City with fairly strict Muslim parents, and she is tired of feeling like a weirdo for eating unusual food and having to stay home most weekend nights. She sneaks out one evening to go to a party, but a strange fog rolls in and the Avengers appear before Kamala, speaking Urdu, and they grant her wish to be like Ms. Marvel — right down to the blonde hair and skimpy outfit. Kamala spends the next few days trying to master her new shape-shifting powers, and she struggles with how to appear. Should she abandon her brown skin and Pakistani features in order to be more recognizable as Ms. Marvel? She opts to look like herself, and after updating her burkini for a superflexible costume, she embraces the mantle of protector of Jersey City. Wilson’s story touches on many issues bubbling up around comics today — diversity, gender, culture, sexuality — though never with a heavy hand. The story is the focus here, and together with Alphona’s playful and stylish artwork, Wilson offers a superhero comic full to bursting with heart and charm. Kamala is a supremely likable and relatable hero, and teens will likely line up for more.” -- Booklist review, December 15, 2014

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two very different worlds: one is her home in a poor black urban neighborhood; the other is the tony suburban prep school she attends and the white boy she dates there. Her bifurcated life changes dramatically when she is the only witness to the unprovoked police shooting of her unarmed friend Khalil and is challenged to speak out — though with trepidation — about the injustices being done in the event’s wake. As the case becomes national news, violence erupts in her neighborhood, and Starr finds herself and her family caught in the middle. Difficulties are exacerbated by their encounters with the local drug lord for whom Khalil was dealing to earn money for his impoverished family. If there is to be hope for change, Starr comes to realize, it must be through the exercise of her voice, even if it puts her and her family in harm’s way. Thomas’ debut, both a searing indictment of injustice and a clear-eyed, dramatic examination of the complexities of race in America, invites deep thoughts about our social fabric, ethics, morality, and justice. Beautifully written in Starr’s authentic first-person voice, this is a marvel of verisimilitude as it insightfully examines two worlds in collision. An inarguably important book that demands the widest possible readership.” -- Booklist review, December 15, 2016

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

“Congressman Lewis, with Michael D’Orso’s assistance, told his story most impressively in Walking with the Wind (1998). Fortunately, it’s such a good story — a sharecropper’s son rises to eminence by prosecuting the cause of his people — that it bears retelling, especially in this graphic novel by Lewis, his aide Aydin, and Powell, one of the finest American comics artists going. After a kicker set on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 (the civil rights movement’s Bloody Sunday), the story makes January 20, 2009 (President Obama’s inauguration) a base of operations as it samples Lewis’ past via his reminiscences for two schoolboys and their mother, who’ve shown up early at his office on that milestone day for African Americans. This first of three volumes of Lewis’ story brings him from boyhood on the farm, where he doted over the chickens and dreamed of being a preacher, through high school to college, when he met nonviolent activists who showed him a means of undermining segregation—to begin with, at the department-store lunch counters of Nashville. Powell is at his dazzling best throughout, changing angle-of-regard from panel to panel while lighting each with appropriate drama. The kineticism of his art rivals that of the most exuberant DC and Marvel adventure comics — and in black-and-white only, yet! Books Two and Three may not surpass Book One, but what a grand work they’ll complete.” -- Booklist review, June 1, 2013

III. Award Information

The ALA Public Programs Office will make up to twenty-five (25) TRHT GSC grants to implement the series “Growing Up Brave on the Margins.” Programming requirements appear below under Requirements for Grantees.

IV. Benefits for Grant Recipients

TRHT GSC pilot libraries will receive the following.

  • 11 paperback copies of Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (10 to gift to participants; 1 for discussion leader/library collection)
  • 11 hardcover copies of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • 11 paperback copies of MARCH: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
  • A programming stipend of $300. These funds may be used to purchase additional formats and/or copies of the books, provide refreshments for program participants, or support supplemental programming costs (e.g., purchase of art supplies, journals, related titles). Grant funds may not be used to cover library or partner organization staff time or indirect costs.
  • Access to a racial healing practitioner(s) who is engaged with the TRHT process. ALA will work with each pilot library to arrange at least one racial healing session led by a racial healing practitioner. Efforts will be made to offer opportunities for multiple healing sessions, for interested pilot libraries.
  • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for attendance at a project orientation workshop for library project directors, April 19-20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Training will include a thorough review of the humanities content of the series led by national project scholar, Susana M. Morris; sessions that focus on library outreach and discussion moderation best practices; and an interactive session led by racial healing practitioners engaged with the national Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation effort supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  • Additional training through periodic project webinars, a program planning guide, and other online support materials.
  • Online access to professionally designed, customizable, and downloadable resources for use with TRHT 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 librarians and partner organization staff.

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). Pilot libraries will have an opportunity to modify their preliminary program plans following the April 2018 orientation workshop.
  • Each library must hold a minimum of three book discussion programs with participation by at least 8-10 young adults.
  • Each library must host one or more interactive racial healing sessions with all program participants. ALA will arrange a racial healing practitioner for your library program and cover related fees for their services and travel.
  • 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. Please contact ALA if there is an institutional barrier to this requirement.
  • The library must complete an online final program report form by the November 30, 2018 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 is located within an organization that serves under-resourced or at-risk teens (e.g., a tribal library, alternative high school, juvenile detention facility), OR;
  • The applicant library is working with a partner organization that serves under-resourced or at-risk teens. Possible partner organizations include but are not limited to juvenile justice facilities, drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers, nonprofits serving teen parents, alternative high schools, agencies serving teenaged foster children, and shelters serving homeless and runaway youth. For a list of national organizations that serve youth and may have local affiliates interested in forging a partnership, please visit the Resources page. Please contact if you have a question about partner eligibility.

NOTE: Applications from public libraries, high school libraries, community college libraries, or others that are submitted without an appropriate partner organization MUST INCLUDE a plan to recruit a high-need teen population to be considered. Please contact prior to applying if you feel that your circumstances merit special consideration or discussion.

Individuals and organizations other than libraries are not eligible to apply. Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

VII. Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club pilot grant between December 18, 2017 – February 16, 2018. 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. If you are selected to receive a grant, you will have an opportunity to adjust this schedule later.


    Include library project director resume, partner organization contact’s resume, and a letter of commitment from the library’s administration. 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 TRHT GSC series. This individual 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 February 16, 2018 submission deadline.

4. Complete Partner Organization / Teen Recruitment Information

If you will work with a community partner, please provide information about that organization in this section.

5. 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. You may also wish to review the TRHT Glossary of terms.

Please answer each narrative section, describing your plans for hosting this TRHT GSC reading and discussion program series at your organization. The proposal narrative consists of nine sections (described immediately below). Please note that each section of the narrative may not exceed 500 words.

The narrative sections are as follows.

  1. Please tell us why you are interested in applying for a TRHT GSC grant. Include why you believe the current theme (“Growing Up Brave on the Margins”) will be meaningful to the individuals who participate in your programs, what teens and staff may gain from engaging in racial healing sessions, and what you hope to achieve for your library and your participants during the grant term. What will a successful series look like to you?
  2. In American history, there have been structural barriers to equal treatment and opportunity within the economic, legal, educational, and residential components of communities. Tell us about the current realities of race relations within your community, and of any local history that has led or contributed to these realities.
  3. Has your library offered any previous programming or engaged in any community efforts to address the current realities of race relations in your community? If so, please tell us about those activities and the impact they've had.
  4. 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 program.
  5. If your library does not plan to work with a community partner to recruit teen participants for your TRHT GSC series, please clearly explain why teen readers in your general service area would benefit from engagement with this project and how you will gain their involvement with your program series. For example, ALA will consider proposals from school libraries that serve alternative classrooms, libraries that are part of a juvenile justice facility or department of corrections, tribal libraries, and public libraries in high-poverty communities.
  6. Describe the population from which your TRHT GSC discussion group will be drawn. Include as much information as possible about the young adults who will participate in reading, discussion, and racial healing events, and describe how the group currently relates to reading (e.g., reading levels, interest in reading, access to similar programs).
  7. How will participation in your program series be achieved? Tell us how you will invite or require teens 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 TRHT GSC (e.g., press releases, news articles, additional programming).
  8. Please clearly describe your plan to implement the TRHT GSC. Important information to provide includes how books will be distributed, how often discussion groups and racial healing circles will convene (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. As a reminder, grantees will be invited to refine these plans after the April 2018 Orientation Workshop.
  9. Describe how you will highlight and explore the ideas in this series. Beyond using the book-specific discussion points that will be provided by ALA, how will you encourage participants to think about the issues presented in the books, including concepts such as assimilation, code-switching, culture, family, bravery, equity, and speaking truth to power? How will you engage participants in personal reflection and meaningful discussion about future opportunities for positive 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.
  10. How will you evaluate your TRHT 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. Below, please tell us how you will keep track of this basic information, evaluate your institution’s work on the project overall, maintain key relationships with community partners in the future, and offer referral opportunities for underserved populations after the project’s conclusion (and/or after release, transfer, graduation). Additional support for program evaluation will be offered during the April 2018 Orientation Workshop.

6. 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. Grantees will have the opportunity to revise this schedule in April 2018.

7. Upload Supporting Materials

  • Resume(s)

    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 library’s administration. Other optional letters of support may be included here as well.

  • Sample Publicity Materials (OPTIONAL)
  • Upload samples of other reading and discussion programs, racial equity/healing/reconciliation projects, youth outreach initiatives, or other related efforts that your library is or has recently been involved with.

8. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host a TRHT GSC series is an application for an award from the ALA. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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 Friday, February 16, 2018. 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:

  • Target audience appropriateness and need
  • Evidence of a workable and appropriate partnership (if applicable)
  • 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?
  • 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, racial healing activities, 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 peer reviewed by programming librarians and ALA project staff. All applicants will be notified of their award status on Monday, February 26, 2018.

X. Award Administration Information

  • Application deadline: February 16, 2018
  • Grant notification: February 26, 2018
  • Book collections, promotional materials ship: March 1, 2018
  • In-person orientation program (for new GSC project directors): April 19-20, 2018 in Chicago, IL
  • Programming period: April – October 2018
  • Required final report due: November 30, 2018, or within 30 days of final program (whichever comes first).

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.