To bring the multicultural, creative spirit of Keats into children’s lives and literature
- Supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries
- Celebrating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books for a diverse audience of children
- Preserving Keats’s work and extending his legacy
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation was incorporated in 1964, with Ezra as President and his lifelong friend, Martin Pope, as Secretary, but remained a personal conduit until Ezra’s death, in 1983. His will directed that the Foundation use the royalties from his books for social good. It was left to his successors to decide how best to carry out his wishes.
Martin and Lillie Pope, now both deceased, became President and Vice President of the Foundation, and focused the work of the foundation on a population and institution especially dear to Ezra: children and public education. Through its Bookmaking and Mini-Grant programs, the Foundation provides children across the country with opportunities to enjoy reading, develop a lifelong love of learning, and to believe in themselves.
Ezra’s commitment to diversity in children’s books is acknowledged by the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, which recognizes emerging writers and illustrators whose books reflect our diverse culture. The Foundation also supports fellowships for the study of children’s literature and scholarships in art and music to universities, museums, music schools and other public organizations.
Deborah Pope, Executive Director since 2002, has made it her mission to expand the programs to reach as many beneficiaries as possible. For a complete list of current programs, and partners see What We Do.
Ezra Jack Keats Award, Writer, established by the New York Public Library, 1986
Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition established by the New York City Department of Education in collaboration with the Foundation, 1986
Keats Archives established by the de Grummond Collection of Children’s Literature, at the University of Southern Mississippi
American Library Association, Posthumous Honoree for Outstanding Advocacy for Libraries in the 20th Century, 2000
Ezra Jack Keats Award, Illustrator established by the New York Public Library, 2001
Society of Illustrators, Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006
Ezra Jack Keats Award, Honor Book category established by the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, 2012