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Program Library of Congress Literacy Awards

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. When can I submit an application?

    The application period is from January 11, 2023, to March 1, 2023. All applications must be submitted by 11:59p.m., March 1, 2023 (EDT).

  2. When will I know if my application was successful?

    Award winners will be contacted in the summer.

  3. When are the winners announced?

    Award winners and Successful Practices Honorees will be publicly announced on International Literacy Day (September 8).

Prize Categories

  1. How many prize categories can I apply in?

    Each organization may apply in only one category in any given year.

  2. Which prize category should I apply in?

    It depends on where your organization is based and where you do your work. Please see prize descriptions for specifics.

  3. My organization is based in the United States, but works internationally; can we apply for the International Prize?

    Yes. Organizations based in the United States that work internationally may apply for the International Prize.

Letters of Reference

  1. What should a letter of reference contain?

    The letter should include a short description of how the writer knows the organization and a brief statement about why they feel that the organization should be considered for an award. Letters that specifically address the difference the organization makes and its unique value to the promotion of literacy are highly encouraged. Reference letters must be signed.

  2. How long should they be?

    There is no word count for the references, but most are 1,000 words or less.

  3. Who should write the letters of reference?

    Letters should come from someone outside of the nominated organization who knows the program and can clearly articulate why the organization’s work should be considered for the award. This might include partners, policy advisers, academics, government officials, beneficiaries or anyone else who is familiar with the organization’s work.

  4. To whom should the letters be addressed?

    The letters can be addressed to the Literacy Awards Advisory Board as follows: “Dear Literacy Awards Advisory Board,”

Short Narrative Response Essays

  1. What information should the essays contain?

    The short essays should respond directly to the questions presented, summarizing why the organization should be considered for the prize. Given the size limitation of the short essays, applicants are encouraged to have their text focus on the value of the work the organization provides and the difference that work makes in increasing literacy and/or public awareness of the need for literacy.

  2. How much information about context/organizational history should be included in the short narrative essay?

    A brief statement about the organizational history is useful, which might include the length of time the program has been active and any important milestones that are relevant to the organization’s current work.

  3. My short essay is more than 300 words, is that acceptable?

    No, short essays longer than 300 words will be disqualified.

  4. Do URLs add to the word count?

    Please do not include URLs in your short essays.


  1. My organization applied previously and received recognition. May we reapply?

    If you are a former recipient of the David M. Rubenstein Prize you are not eligible to apply again. Organizations that have been recognized previously as a Successful Practices Honoree, American or International Prize recipient may apply again but your organization will only be considered if the project is different than the one that received the recognition previously. Be sure to indicate what is new and different. Additionally, provide relevant information under “applicant status” in the application.

  2. How do I reapply?

    If you have applied for an award in the past, you must reapply to be considered for this year. To apply, fill out a new application form, update or rewrite your essay to reflect any changes or new achievements since the prior application and attach your letters of reference. Specifically, any applications (and their supporting material) from prior years are not considered in the current year application process.

  3. Do I have to submit different letters of reference?

    We encourage organizations to obtain current letters of reference that speak to the organization’s current application. If the letters of reference from the past are being used, they must be resubmitted with the new application. All prior year’s applications and supporting materials are not considered in the current year’s application process.

  4. My organization applied previously and received recognition for our implementation of a successful practice; may we apply again?

    Yes, we encourage you to apply again. Some of our winners and Successful Practices Honorees applied multiple times before being recognized. The applicant pool changes each year, so you should continue to apply.

Successful Practices Honorees

  1. What does it mean to be a Successful Practices Honoree?

    Each year up to 15 organizations that apply in the three major prize categories are recognized for their successful implementation of a specific literacy promotion practice and receive a $5,000 award. Short profiles of the honorees are included in the annual Library of Congress Literacy Awards publication along with descriptions of the prize winners. Additionally, honorees may be invited to participate in an awards celebration.

  2. How are the honorees selected?

    The Successful Practices Honorees are selected based on the overall evaluation of their application and their successful implementation of a specific literacy practice.

  3. Do I need to apply separately to be considered for “successful practices” recognition?

    No. Honorees are chosen from all three prize categories.


  1. Who is eligible to apply for the literacy awards?

    Any organization or program that does not operate on a for-profit basis is eligible to apply. We accept applications for projects created or sponsored by local, regional or national governments. We do not accept nominations for individuals.

  2. Can I submit my application in a language other than English?

    At this time we are only able to evaluate materials submitted in English. If you wish to use letters of reference that are written in another language, please provide an English translation as well.

  3. Can I request feedback on my application if it is not successful?

    Due to limited personnel resources, feedback on unsuccessful applications will not be provided.

  4. I have more questions. Whom should I contact?

    Email questions to