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Congressman Higgins Announces $20,000 for Big Read Program in WNY

Jun 23, 2009
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that the Buffalo & Eric County Public Library has been awarded a $20,000 federal grant for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program, the largest reading program in the country.

“Educational programs like this steer Western New York in the right direction toward strengthening our community and breaking the poverty cycle,” said Congressman Higgins.  “One in five Erie County residents is functionally illiterate; in Buffalo it’s one in three.  By encouraging reading, we open ourselves up to a wealth of knowledge and opportunity.”

The Big Read program exists as a collaborative effort of the NEA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services with administration from the Arts Midwest Between September 2009 and June 2010, the Buffalo & Eric County Public Library will encourage the community to read and discuss F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic novel The Great Gatsby.  To supplement this, the NEA provides free support materials including Reader’s Guides for student and community participants, Teacher’s Guides, Audio Instructions to the book and a comprehensive website.

Started in 2006, the NEA Big Read program continues to expand each year with 208 participating programs last year.  For the upcoming year, the Buffalo & Eric County Public Library will be one of 272 organizations participating in this program.  Collectively, the NEA has offered more than 802 grants and incorporated more than 21,000 organizations.

NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency tasked with bringing the arts to all Americans.  Congress authorized $155 million in FY2009 funding for NEA programs.