CALS receives $225,000 grant from the Windgate Foundation

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Foundation is honored to have received a grant of $225,000 from the Windgate Foundation.

The grant will support three programs:

  • $75,000 will expand the library’s community outreach program
  • $100,000 will support the hiring of two digital literacy coaches
  • $50,000 will fund instructors, materials, tools, and equipment for visual arts classes and programming offered for free at the library’s fourteen branches across Central Arkansas

“This generous grant enables us to meet specific strategic goals set by the library board in 2019,” said Nate Coulter, Executive Director of CALS. “Thanks to the Windgate Foundation, CALS staff will be eliminating some barriers for people on the wrong side of the digital divide, enriching patrons’ lives through art, and extending the educational resources of the library into underserved communities. All of this serves our broad mission to help people reach their potential.”

CALS’s 2019-2022 Strategic Plan calls for major efforts to reach underserved people in the library’s service area. One outcome of the plan was the creation of community liaison positions for the Black and Hispanic communities. Jessica McDaniel and Maria Aguilar have served in these roles since June 2020 and are focused on extending outreach outside of library buildings to ensure community members are aware of resources offered at CALS.

“CALS is making great strides to meet people where they are,” said McDaniel. “Long gone are the days where the library is just a quiet place to read. These generous funds from the Windgate Foundation will allow our outreach team and staff to head into communities with books, programming, and resources, ultimately empowering potential patrons to foster a feeling of ownership in their library system.”

Funding from the Windgate Foundation will:

  • Outfit the library’s outreach van as the CALS Micro Mobile Library. The Micro Mobile Library will be able to issue library cards, check items from our collection out and in, provide internet access, and provide printing capabilities for essential documents.
  • Support a large-scale translation project throughout our system. Through the project CALS will translate written materials to Spanish and hire on-site translators for events.
  • Invest in the Millie Brooks MicroLibrary, located in Wrightsville. The investment will support the branch’s community garden, food pantry, and school supplies and clothing closet.

CALS already provides digital literacy assistance through our free, virtual technology classes. However, the library lacks the human resources to offer consistent one-on-one tech assistance for patrons who may not be able to access a virtual class. The digital literacy coaches will be assigned to work at branches where our data indicates greatest need to provide one-on-one technology-assistance sessions. The coaches will specialize in providing help with productivity software, email use, cloud file storage, Windows or MacOS use, device use and setup, and using online resources.

Finally, CALS has a long track record of providing opportunities for the Central Arkansas community to experience and create visual art. On an ongoing basis, CALS offers programs—both virtually and in person—to teach artmaking skills to patrons of all skill levels and to foster an appreciation for creating and viewing artwork. This grant will allow the library to strengthen and grow this program, including increasing our budget to purchase art supplies/materials and to hire instructors to teach workshops and other classes. Classes will include general art lessons offered virtually along with free classes offered onsite at fourteen branches.

The Central Arkansas Library System’s mission is to provide resources and services to help residents reach their full potential, and to inspire discovery, learning, and cultural expression.

The mission of the CALS Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, is to provide financial support for the library’s educational and cultural programming for the patrons, communities, and neighborhoods being served by CALS’s branches.

Based in Little Rock, the Windgate Foundation has made grants since 1993 with a focus on contemporary craft, visual arts, education, and addressing poverty.

To make a gift to support the library’s programs, visit, or contact Eliza Borné, Director of Development, at or 501-320-5750.