Project Next Generation Illinois State Library

Eligibility  •  Requirements  •  Application Guidelines  •  Forms  •  Review Process  •  Program Impact  •  Questions?


Project Next Generation (PNG) offers grant funding to public libraries for the establishment of educational after-school programs that not only provide access to computers, software and various technology devices, but also hire mentors who are crucial to helping students develop self-confidence and pride in their newly acquired skills.

PNG programs encourage personal growth and the educational development of at-risk middle to high school students through the use of mentors, technology and library based group projects. The goal of PNG is to bridge the digital divide by making recent technologies accessible to students who have limited access to computers. In a similar manner, the program strives to provide positive role models and offers a safe and friendly environment. The mentors involved with the program foster the development of self-confidence and pride in their students by helping them gain the knowledge and skills necessary for future educational and professional success.

Expected Outcomes


Range of Awards and Funding Source

Program Requirements

Public libraries must demonstrate the capacity to recruit mentors and engage tweens and/or teens in educational activities that have potential to change skills, knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors..

  1. The primary target audience must be middle to high school students, generally within the age range of 10 to 18 years old, with the identified target audience justified by local community need. Libraries are encouraged to recruit at-students. Students may be at risk by not having home or school access to the technologies or programs the library proposes to offer. At - risk participants may also reflect the many faces of diversity such as educational, cultural or language differences, social gaps, economic diversity or representation from different middle or high schools, including homeschooled students.
  2. Mentors are a critical PNG component, as they work directly with the students and guide them through activities. Mentors may be hired on contract specifically to plan and implement activities, or responsibility for the PNG program may be assigned to existing staff. Subject specialists may also be engaged to share expertise.
  3. Activities engage participants in learning through virtual or hands on experiences with various technologies. Programming must be justified by the target audiences' needs and should enhance life skills, such problem solving, creative or critical thinking or social skills. From robotics to photography, programming may increase knowledge and foster interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) concepts. Activities may reinforce the school curriculum or concentrate on requirements for graduation or preparation for college and thus improve participants' formal education. Previous PNG programs have found success by scheduling activities as semesters with consideration of the local school calendar.

Application Guidelines

Application and Reporting Forms

Review Process

Grants are awarded by the Secretary of State based on recommendations received from a Grant Review Committee following its review process.

The Project Next Generation grant program is competitive. Only complete applications from eligible public library agencies will be considered for funding. Each application must stand on its own merit and is evaluated based on the information provided in the application.

Additional factors taken into consideration include:

Applications are funded that best meet the purpose of the grant offering and address Goal 2 of Illinois' Long Range Plan for the use of Library Services and Technology Act Funds: Position the Illinois library community as an educational anchor by providing opportunities to support education, information fluency and lifelong learning.

Successful applicants should address one of the following LSTA lifelong learning intents:

Only the awarded grant applications shall be considered public information. Working papers, individual reviewer's comments, notes, and scores are not public information. A summary of the review comments will be shared with the applicant.


Date Activity
March 30 Deadline to apply.
July 1 Contracts begin. Activities and obligating/disbursing local funds may begin. Use of local funds may be necessary until the award check arrives; schedule activities accordingly.
August 5, September 5 Optional monthly reimbursement request.
Fall Virtual PNG Mentors Meeting.
October 15 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due documenting financial disbursements and programming activities during July, August and September. Request reimbursement if appropriate.
November 5, December 5 Optional monthly reimbursement request.
January 15 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due documenting financial disbursements and programming activities during October, November and December. Request reimbursement if appropriate.
February 5, March 5 Optional monthly reimbursement request.
April 15 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due documenting financial disbursements and programming activities during January, February and March. Request reimbursement if appropriate.
May 5, June 5 Optional monthly reimbursement request.
June 30 Contracts end. Activities must conclude and all grant funds must be disbursed.
July 15 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due documenting financial disbursements and programming activities during April, May and June. Final request for reimbursement.
August 30 LSTA Post Project Report due.

Legal Authority

Supporting LSTA Grant Documentation

Program Impact in FY 2022

Total Dollars Awarded

Examples of PNG Projects

Bradley Public Library is engaging students ages 10 to 18 in learning how to use software and equipment from the tech and design industries and develop soft skills needed in the workplace. Teen Tech focuses on high school students learning animation, music creation, 2D creation, 3D printing and design. Tech Junior engages middle and junior high school students in coding. The activities provide access and instruction to software and equipment that families do not normally have access to, and greatly increases the technology skills of students in a hands-on environment.

Elmwood Park Public Library is providing science, technology, engineering, art and math (S.T.E.A.M.) inspired programming, activities and resources for 6th through 8th graders in Elmwood Park and the surrounding area. Mentors are using S.T.E.A.M. concepts and technology as tools to engage the participants and challenge them to learn new concepts and reinforce previously learned material in a fun and relaxed classroom environment. Participants are increasing and improving their technology skills while becoming more frequent users of the library and library services. They are also discovering hobbies, avenues of creative expression and even professional vocations of which they may have been previously unaware.

Evanston Public Library is engaging upper elementary and middle school students in Cardboard Carnival, a series of science technology engineering and math (STEM) workshops and programs that is utilizing engineering design process, coding, construction, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Workshops are marketed to all Evanston students in 4th through 8th grades and intentionally focused on groups underrepresented in STEM fields, specifically Black, Latinx, and youth identifying as female. The Cardboard Carnival curriculum is aligned with the Evanston School District 65 middle school technology standards to develop prototyping skills via 3D modeling. Participants are collaborating with peers and mentors to both fix problems and get ideas in order to achieve the best possible result.


217-782-5506 or 1-800-665-5576 ext 2.

Project Next Generation grants are made possible using LSTA grant funds provided to the Illinois State Library by IMLS through the Grants to States program.