New Mexico State Library

Funding Sources for Youth Services

Budgets are tight for libraries statewide, and nationwide. Sometimes (if not more often!) you’d like more funding, materials, staff, and equipment for youth programs and collections. You are already resourceful, but here are a few ideas and sources for grants, in-kind contributions, and more.

What are some grant sources?

This is a big topic, but here’s a start.

  • The Library Grants blog is a great place to start. The bloggers post a new grant appropriate for libraries every week or so; it includes many aimed at youth programs.
  • The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) offers a wide range of grants, scholarships, stipends and more to librarians who serve young adults.
  • The Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC) also offers many grants and awards.
  • The Scholastic website offers a long list of grants for libraries.

Just a few of the many specific national grant programs for youth programs and collections:

There are some fantastic local/statewide/regional organizations that offer grant programs, too:

What resources are available to learn more about grants?

  • The State Library has a Foundation Center Collection, which concentrates on funding from private foundations for non-profit organizations. The Foundation Directory Online and Foundation Grants to Individuals Online databases are available for use at all research workstations in the State Library. Corresponding print Foundation Center directories are augmented with local publications and information on corporate giving, nonprofit management, fund-raising techniques and proposal writing. Info is also available on Federal and State grants. Much of this is a reference collection, but there are circulating copies of some popular materials.
  • The State Library sponsors a Traveling Collection of Foundation Center Materials which rotates through libraries in NM. This collection is designed to help provide local access for libraries and other non-profits in their communities to information about funding. Each location gets to keep the Traveling Collection for six weeks. Librarians can call the State Library Public Services Bureau at 1-800-876-2203 to schedule the collection. View the Foundation Traveling Collection Bibliography online.
  • There are many online resources that provide basic grant writing steps and tips, like:
  • The Foundation Center offers free webinars on grant writing basics; go to for more info.

How can we seek in-kind contributions?

Depending on your library’s situation, it may be best to work closely with your Friends group on these ideas.

  • Approach local businesses for in-kind donations, or ask for discounts. Try for everything from pizzas for an end of the SRP teen party to discounts on books to gift certificates to free/ reduced cost ads in the newspaper or radio.
  • Ask local organizations, like Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Lions Club, churches, etc, to donate volunteer time or items like bikes and office supplies.
  • Seek volunteer help all over your community, including high schools!
  • For large events, like an SRP, author programs, or movie series, ask for community sponsors; these can be individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or other organizations.
  • Create a wish list or needs list and advertise it in your newsletter, website, and flyers. The list can include specific items like a 3-hole punch or fax machine, a call for volunteers for an event, or general or specific craft supplies. If you don’t mind receiving gently used items, include that info on the lists for a better success rate. For specific items, this approach sometimes works better than a general call for cash donations.

Tips for approaching your community for contributions:

  • Present statistics as well as personal anecdotes demonstrating how much your library accomplishes and its essential role in the community. National studies on library services can be powerful as well.
  • Demonstrate the need for the item sought and explain how the library will use it; for instance, ‘The library’s Teen Advisory Group has asked for a videorecorder to create videos to promote the library’s services to teens; we think it’s a great idea that will go far to attract new YA patrons and get them reading, but we don’t have the funds in the budget.’