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 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, 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 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 the knowledge and skills 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 and Grant Informational Webinar

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
March 15, 2019 Deadline to apply.
July 1, 2019

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, 2019 for all project directors.

October 15, 2019 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
January 15, 2020 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
April 15, 2020 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
June 30, 2020 Contracts end. Activities must conclude and all grant funds must be disbursed or obligated/encumbered.
July 15, 2020 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due.
August 15, 2020 Report due documenting disbursement of encumbered funds (if applicable).
August 30, 2020 LSTA Post Project Report due.

Legal Authority

Supporting LSTA Grant Documentation

Program Impact in FY 2019

Total Dollars Awarded

Examples of PNG Projects

Carbondale Public Library
Project Next Generation (PNG) was an integral part of the youth programming at Carbondale Public Library. This program provided students in 5th through 8th grades the opportunity to learn and interact with their peers in a safe and encouraging environment. Participants gained exposure to the arts, sciences, and technology though a variety of hands-on and engaging activities. The students had access to a wide variety of technology, which they learned to utilize for both learning and leisure. PNG activities were interactive, thus engaging all the senses and addressing all learning styles, from visual to kinetic. Participation built practical intellectual and life skills, cultivated creativity, and developed confidence. Participants formed a diverse social network of peers from all over the area.

LaSalle Public Library
Project Next Generation (PNG) at the LaSalle Public Library engaged local youth in emerging technologies to become responsible digital citizens. Empowering youth (ages 10 to 14) to become savvy, responsible digital citizens was the motivating force driving the PNG program. Guided by mentors and local experts, students developed skills to use digital cameras and 3-D printing technologies over a period of eight weeks. For the first four weeks, participants were trained to use digital cameras, as well as information evaluation and interviewing skills. Using these skills, participants interviewed local veterans. For the second four weeks, participants were taught the basics of 3-D printing by a faculty member at Illinois Valley Community College. Students traveled to Springfield and worked with the staff at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum where they scanned historical artifacts that were printed on the 3-D printer. Participants increased their understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen while expanding their technology skills.


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.