Grants awarded to small-town public libraries

Four Nebraska public libraries recently received a helping hand, thanks to the generosity of a lifelong educator, the late Shirley Kreutz Bennett of Lincoln. Each year, the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), accepts proposals for matching grants for public libraries in communities with populations under 3,000.

Following Ms. Kreutz Bennett’s wishes, a Fund Advisory Committee composed of her nieces and nephews recommends grants in three areas: planning grants leading to accreditation; enhancement grants to improve library services; and facilities grants for new construction or the renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries.

All grants require a certain level of matching funds and evidence that the project has broad community support. Approximately $80,000 in grant funding is available each year. Grant seekers are encouraged to review the guidelines and application procedures here.

“I would encourage librarians in eligible Nebraska communities to apply for grants through the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund,” said Clair Bushong, director of Valley Public Library.

“The grants we have received in Valley have made an impact well beyond the initial funding period. The success of our projects has convinced our community leaders to continue to support them in subsequent years. Most recently, our children’s programming has shown a dramatic increase, and we now have a permanent staff position for youth programs, thanks to a temporary project funded by a Kreutz Bennett grant,” Bushong said.

For more information about this library grant opportunity, contact Reggi Carlson, NCF communications specialist, 402-323-7338 or

The following libraries received grants in 2017:

Albion Public Library
The Fund Advisory Committee approved a grant of $1,000 to develop a makers space and creativity center as an opportunity for children to learn and experience new skills while having fun. Activity stations will focus on science, technology, engineering, math and the arts and will appeal to both kids and parents.

Lied Pierce Public Library
Grant funding in the amount of $2,000 will be used to purchase new books, movies, crafts, games, and musical instruments to offer children a learning and nurturing environment during after-school hours, and to increase the quality and quantity of programs for children in all age groups.

Ravenna Public Library
The Fund Advisory Committee approved a grant of $20,000 to support a fundraising campaign for a new million-dollar library facility. This grant will be awarded when the campaign has secured half its funding.

Walthill Public Library
A grant in the amount of $15,000 will be used to finish construction in the 450-square-foot meeting, conference, and reading room area adjacent to the $485,000 renovation project that transformed a former firehall into a new library in 2016.

“Gaining accreditation is critical to our libraries. It opens the door to other outside funding,” said Jeff Yost, NCF president and CEO.  “In many small towns, the library may be the only place where some people have access to the Internet.  Shirley’s legacy gift shows that she had great vision and commitment to people in our small communities. We are honored to help the family of Shirley Kreutz Bennett develop a strategy to share her passion for learning,” said Yost.

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