October 2, 2014 Library of Congress Literacy Awards to Be Presented

Philanthropist and Donor David M. Rubenstein to Interview Top Prize Winner

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ada@loc.gov.
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will deliver opening remarks, and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein will make a keynote address during the second annual Library of Congress Literacy Awards presentation ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m. in room LJ-119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. However, seating is limited; register at literacyawards@loc.gov.

Rubenstein, who is also creator of the awards, will interview the winner of the Rubenstein prize. The winners of the awards were announced during the 2014 National Book Festival on Aug. 30. Representatives from each winning group will make a brief presentation on the work of their organization.

The recipients are:

  • David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000): Room to Read
    Room to Read, founded in 2001, believes that world change starts with educated children and that the best way to create long-term systemic change in the developing world is through literacy and gender equality in education. It focuses on literacy as the foundation of all other learning by developing reading skills and the habit of reading, among primary-school children. To achieve this goal, Room to Read increases access to culturally relevant, age-appropriate reading materials; increases the effectiveness of instructors teaching literacy skills; and improves the existing school environment so that it is more conducive to learning. The organization also aims to equalize the educational experience for girls by supporting them to complete secondary school with the academic and life skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. Room to Read’s service area is Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • The American Prize ($50,000): SMART
    The third-grade reading level is widely recognized as a key indicator of a child’s future educational success. A student who cannot read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently in third grade. In 1992, the Oregon Children’s Foundation created a program to address the growing number of elementary-school children who were reading significantly below grade level. Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) now operates at more than 250 program sites throughout the state and serves approximately 9,000 children each year.
  • The International Prize ($50,000): Mother Child Education Foundation
    The Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) was started in 1993 and is the largest literacy organization in Turkey. Its mission is to empower the Turkish people through education and enable them to improve the quality of their lives. It operates a variety of projects designed to address family, adult and early childhood literacy. At the time of AÇEV’s founding, only one in 10 children nationally received any form of preschool education before starting primary school, resulting in large deficits in readiness to learn. AÇEV developed the Mother Child Education Program (MOCEP) for low-income mothers and children without access to preschool education. However, early MOCEP trials revealed that not all participating mothers were literate and therefore many were unable to carry out the collaborative cognitive exercises with their children, pushing AÇEV into a complementary area of need, adult literacy.

Closing the event will be Michael Suarez, S.J., director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, former professor of English literature at Fordham University and a member of the advisory board of the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards were first announced in January 2013 as a program to help support organizations working to alleviate the problems of illiteracy, both in the United States and worldwide. The awards seek to reward organizations doing exemplary, innovative and easily replicable work over a sustained period and to encourage new groups, organizations and individuals to become involved.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its website at www.loc.gov.

The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading-promotion partners and through the Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit read.gov.


PR 14-177
ISSN 0731-3527