Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards $10,000 to an individual or organization that has developed an innovative project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading in the community they serve. In addition, the Foundation recognizes four projects to receive the designation of honorable mention.

Both the winner and honorable mentions are invited to participate in the Foundations’ annual Why Reading Matters Conference.

Applications for the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize are now open. Applications are due by 11:59pm EST on February 28, 2018 and must be submitted online via Submittable.

If you have questions, please contact Jordan Smith at jsmith@nationalbook.org or call 212.685.0261.

Who is eligible?

All U.S. citizens and American institutions are eligible for this prize. Previous winners can apply for new initiatives.

Examples include:

  • After-school and community-based programs
  • Non-profits such as museums and libraries
  • Startups focused on reading and literature
What is the prize?
  • There are four honorable mentions, and one winner of a $10,000 prize
  • Announcements via the press, social media, our newsletter, and on the NBF website
  • Invitation to present at National Book Foundation’s annual Why Reading Matters conference (the 2018 conference will be held on June 7 in Brooklyn, NY).


Note: if you are interested in submitting a proposal for a Why Reading Matters presentation in addition to your Innovations in Reading application, you can read more here. Conference proposals are reviewed and selected independently from the Innovations in Reading Prize selection process.

What are we looking for?

Applicants should:

  • Share the National Book Foundation’s mission to expand the audience for literature in America;
  • Focus on reading, and not exclusively literacy skills;
  • Demonstrate innovation in mission, approach, and/or audience/community served;
  • Apply for an existing program/project/initiative with evidence of success—as Innovations in Reading is a prize and not a grant, the goal is to reward work already underway, encouraging it to continue and/or expand.

We strongly encourage applicants to read about past winners to get a sense of programs we support.

How is a winner chosen?

Applications will be reviewed and selected by National Book Foundation staff and members of our Board of Directors.

The 2018 winner and honorable mentions will be announced on May 10. 

How do I apply?

You may submit your own application, or nominate an organization or individual's project (please notify the nominee you are submitting an application for the Innovations in Reading Prize on their behalf).

Complete the online application via Submittable.

You will need:

  • Contact information and organizational details
  • Two reference letters from individuals familiar with the work of the applicant (if you are nominating an organization or individual, you can write one of the reference letters)
  • Several short narratives (500 words or fewer unless otherwise noted):
    • Description of the project
    • Description of the community served by the project (250 words or fewer)
    • Details of how the Project impacts the community served
    • What makes the Project innovative
    • Information on how prize money would be used

Please direct any questions about the application process to Jordan Smith, jsmith@nationalbook.org.

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Sponsored by: Levenger Foundation

2018 Innovations in Reading Prize Application Apply Now for the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize