Project Next Generation Illinois State Library

Eligibility  •  Awards  •  Program Requirements  •  Application Guidelines / Forms  •  Review Process  •  Questions?


Project Next Generation (PNG) offers grant funding to public libraries for establishing 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 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 a safe and friendly environment filled with positive role models. The mentors involved with the program foster the development of self-confidence and pride in their students by helping them gain technical knowledge necessary for future educational and professional success.


The Illinois State Library will fund PNG programs statewide that support the following outcomes:


Range of Awards and Funding Source

Program Requirements

Public libraries must demonstrate the capacity to recruit mentors and engage participants in educational activities.

  1. The primary target audience must be students, within the age range of 10 to 18 years old, with the identified target audience and justified by local community need. Libraries are encouraged to recruit at risk 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.
  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. Demonstrate how participants will be immersed in learning through hands on experiences with various technologies. Programming must be justified by the target audiences' needs and should enhance life skills, e.g., problem solving, creative or critical thinking, social skills. From robotics to photography, programming may increase knowledge and foster interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts. Activities may reinforce the school curriculum, concentrate on graduation requirements or college prep and thus improve participants' formal education. Previous PNG programs have found success by scheduling activities as "semesters" with consideration of the local school calendar.
  4. Successful applicants should address one of the following LSTA lifelong learning intents:
    • Improve participants' general knowledge and skills.
    • Improve participants' formal education with emphasis on curriculum support.

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.

In addition to evaluation of the application content, meeting the criteria for library agencies eligible to apply, and the recommendations of the Review Committee, additional factors taken into consideration include:

Applications are funded that best meet the purpose of the grant offering and address Goal 2 of the LSTA Five Year Plan: Position the Illinois library community as an educational anchor by providing opportunities to support education, information fluency and lifelong learning.

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
May 1, 2018 Deadline to apply. Submit to
July 1, 2018

Contracts begin. Activities and obligating grant funds may begin. Use of local funds may be necessary until the award check arrives; schedule activities accordingly.

A virtual grant management workshop will be scheduled after July 1, 2018 for all project directors.

October 15, 2018 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
January 15, 2019 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
April 15, 2019 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
June 30, 2019 Contracts end. Activities must conclude and all grant funds must be disbursed or obligated/encumbered.
July 15, 2019 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
August 15, 2019 Report due documenting disbursement of encumbered funds (if applicable).
August 30, 2019 LSTA Post Project Report due.

Legal Authority

Supporting LSTA Grant Documentation

Program Impact in FY 2018

Total Dollars Awarded

Examples of PNG Projects

Project Next Generation – Teen Initiative Expands
The Mississippi Valley Library District engaged students in Collinsville and Fairmont City, helping them learn to use technology, develop skills in science, art and engineering, and think about new future careers. The participating 5th through 12th grade students were introduced to careers in STEM fields, learned creativity and critical thinking skills, and developed confidence in using technology to solve problems. The majority of participants came from low income households with limited access to technology. Students explored different technologies, which helped spark their interest in fields of study they may have previously thought to be unobtainable. As a direct result of their participation in the activities, participants grew more confident. In some cases, students shifted the focus of their high school studies to STEM courses with an eye toward future careers.

Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow
Through Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow, Chicago Ridge Public Library engaged 145 underserved, at-risk students in 5th through 12th grades. With this new programming, the library played an active role in promoting digital literacy and inclusion. Participants used photography equipment and software to create and edit photos. They learned to use a 3D printer and stop motion animation to create short stop animation videos. Students also created projects using an embroidery machine, sewing machine and serger. Many adult mentors worked actively with the students and initiated informal, frank conversations as they talked about life skills and learned from each other. By offering access to unique technologies and mentors, the library better served tweens and teens and helped them develop skills and enrich their personal growth.


For more information, please call 217-782-5506 or visit the Project Next Generation website.

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.