Safford City-Graham County Library receives National Endowment for the Arts grant

The Safford City-Graham County Library received an NEA grant of $13,700 to support its reading program which this year will focus on Sandra Cisneros’ book, ‘The House on Mango Street.’

Graham County to read and celebrate ‘The House on Mango Street’ from September to December

Contributed Article

SAFFORD – The Safford City-Graham County Library is one of 61 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2021-2022 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $13,700 will support a community reading program focusing on “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros from September – December 2021. 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.

For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate the Safford City-Graham County Library for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The NEA Big Read offers a 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 NEA Big Read selection.

We’re inspired by the creativity of this year’s NEA Big Read grantees, who are finding new ways to bring people together after a challenging year,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to support these organizations and communities as they explore the richness and diversity of American history and culture together through reading.” 

The books available for the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read explore different aspects of American history and culture. Grantees are developing programming that helps communities to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we’re going.

The NEA Big Read: Graham County brings together several Graham County organizations, including The Friends of the Safford Library, The Gila Valley Arts Council, local schools, and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. A slate of exciting programming will begin with a kickoff event in September that includes a bilingual storytime and a community art night. Other activities during the fall of 2021 will include book discussions, movie screenings, a cooking class, and an art competition. Free copies of the book will be available county-wide.

The House on Mango Street was the popular choice of patrons and local high school English teachers for the 2021 Big Read.  It explores the life of a 12-year-old girl growing up in Chicago in the ’80s.  Sandra Cisneros has written a unique story that mirrors her own. The book will find its way into the hands of nearly 1800 students from 7th grade through high school whose English and Spanish teachers have registered to participate. Paulette LeBlanc, President of Friends of the Library, will serve as the education coordinator for the program.  “Safford Library hosted 3 successful Big Read projects years ago.  It’s so exciting to bring it back to our schools and our community. I am truly impressed at the number of teachers stepping up to bring The Big Read into their classrooms. Serving as their coordinator is an honor.  The book and the corresponding events will be so enriching for our students.”  

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15 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, over 90,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit

For more information please contact the library at 928-432-4165 or see

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 believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit

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