The Library with LitYoungstown Receives an NEA Big Read Grant

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Mahoning County Will Read ‘Into the Beautiful North’ by Luis Alberto Urrea this Fall  

YOUNGSTOWN (June 12, 2019/For Immediate Release) – The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (PLYMC) with LitYoungstown received a grant of $15,000 to host the NEA Big Read in Mahoning County.  An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Grant to PLYMC with LitYoungstown is one of 78 given to nonprofits by NEA Big Read to host a community reading program between September 2019 and June 2020. The NEA Big Read in Mahoning County will focus on “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea, who will make appearances in Mahoning County this fall. The community will be encouraged to read “Into the Beautiful North” at that time. Information about the author visit and surrounding events will be released as soon as possible after final arrangements are made.

Aimee Fifarek, PLYMC Executive Director, said, “We are very excited to have received a grant for an NEA Big Read in our community. What a wonderful opportunity to bring a love of reading to our area along with LitYoungstown.  We are very happy that the grant will enable us to bring noted author Luis Alberto Urrea to Mahoning County this fall. We hope the community will join us to celebrate reading, thanks to this NEA Big Read grant.”

“It is inspiring to see both large and small communities across the nation come together around a book,” said National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “We always look forward to the unique ways cities, towns, and organizations, like the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County and Lit Youngstown, explore these stories and encourage community participation in a wide variety of events.”

The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single National Endowment for the Arts Big Read selection.

 Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $20 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past twelve years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit

The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (PLYMC) is a system of 15 public libraries in Mahoning County, Ohio, headed by Executive Director Aimee Fifarek. The Library connects people and communities with reliable resources to inspire learning and foster enrichment. PLYMC aims to provide accurate information to its customers; be the best source for knowledge, exploration of ideas, and leisure learning in its community; be adaptive, dynamic and innovative by responding to both the community and the changing library industry; assure equitable access to library services and material; create welcoming spaces; and provide excellent customer service.

 Lit Youngstown is a literary arts nonprofit founded in 2015 in Youngstown, Ohio, by Liz Hill and Karen Schubert. The mission of Lit Youngstown is to increase opportunities for writers to hone their craft, share and publish their work; for writers to teach and support other writers; and for writers and readers to experience and enjoy the literary arts. We believe that the acts of writing and reading foster creativity, an increased understanding of the self, a strengthening of community, and a broader knowledge of the world.

 Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.

 Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

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