Library of Congress Literacy Awards

Statement of Purpose

The Library’s mission is to provide Congress, the federal government and the American people with a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge that can be relied upon to support their intellectual and creative endeavors. Through the generosity of David M. Rubenstein, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards program furthers this mission by honoring organizations that have made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in the United States or abroad. The awards also encourage the continuing development of innovative methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy, and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading.

Prizes and Winners

The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000) is awarded for an outstanding and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels to an organization based either inside or outside the United States that has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy.

The American Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels or the national awareness of the importance of literacy to an organization that is based in the United States.

The International Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels to an organization that is based outside the United States.

About

“Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress’s spiritual founder, wrote of the pursuit of happiness. I like to think that literacy is fundamental to that pursuit. So many doors are closed to those who cannot read. Everyone in this world has a right to happiness and with that comes the right to read.” —Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress (October 27, 2016)

By recognizing current achievements, the awards seek to enable organizations, foundations and other private sector groups to strengthen their involvement in literacy and reading promotion and to encourage collaboration with like-minded organizations.

Since 2013, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has recognized 60 organizations worldwide. Seventeen additional organizations are honored in 2016.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program is completing year four of a five-year pilot project designed to broaden and stimulate public understanding about the essential role of literacy in all aspects of society. In the spirit of sharing experiences and new ideas we hope to continue in this work and we encourage organizations to continue to be actively engaged with the program and its activities.

The Library of Congress is grateful to the members of the Literacy Awards Advisory Board for their generous and dedicated service and advice and to David M. Rubenstein for his concern, as a citizen, about the state of literacy in the United States and throughout the world.