Penny Severns Family Literacy Program Illinois State Library

Grant projects provide integrated, intensive instruction to improve the basic reading, writing skills, math or English language proficiency of parents and children together. Services include adult education, child education, parenting education, literacy-based, interactive, parent-child activities and library services.

Projects also strengthen the ability of the parent to foster educational achievement and increase their ability to use the resources and services of the library. Services are provided through a partnership between a public library, an adult educational agency, and an organization that serves at-risk children.

Expected Outcomes

Application and Forms

The Adult Literacy grant applications are being offered in advance of the provision of the state budget. The Illinois State Library makes these grant applications available so that award notification may be released when legislative and gubernatorial approval of the appropriation is made. Obligations to fund this grant program will cease immediately without penalty or further payment being required if the Illinois General Assembly or the federal funding source fails to appropriate or otherwise make available sufficient funds.

Supporting Documentation

Partner agencies (those specifically named on page 2 of the Penny Severns Family Literacy application and who are not the submitting agency) must provide a letter of support detailing their responsibilities to the project.

Any additional participating agencies in the literacy project must attach a statement detailing their significant responsibilities to the literacy project. Each letter should describe their cooperation, coordination, and services to the project and include the signatures of organization representatives.

If the submitting agency is a not-for-profit entity, submit a copy of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Ruling on Determination Letter.

Special Note to Agencies Partnering with the Chicago Public Library

For Family Literacy applications, Chicago area agencies that propose to cooperate with a Chicago Public Library branch as a library partner must contact the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and get approval of their participation in writing. Responsibilities of both Chicago area agencies and the CPL are outlined below:

Responsibilities of Chicago Area Agencies
Responsibilities of the Chicago Public Library

The signed letter of cooperation from the Chicago Public Library must be submitted electronically with the completed application due March 15.

Informational Webinars

Penny Severns Family Literacy grant informational webinars are recommended for all Illinois Secretary of State funded Penny Severns Family Literacy grantees or any agency interested in applying for the program.

Eligibility and Program Requirements

Applicant Eligibility Requirements
Participant Eligibility Requirements
Programming Requirements


Public funds awarded under this grant range up to $50,000. Agencies may apply for more than one family literacy grant if each application serves a distinct population.

Allowable Costs
Costs not allowed

For more information about Penny Severns Family Literacy, please call 217-785-6921 or email

Penny Severns Family Literacy Program grants are funded in part using Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.