Civic Engagement: REACT Grant

REACT Grant logo: Read, Engage, and Come TogetherThe Chelmsford Library is embarking on a year-long project to promote civic participation and education with our REACT Grant: Read, Engage, And Come Together.

Join us as we explore six key issues that most impact our community and society as a whole, through engaging programming, in depth, moderated discussions, films, readings, and quality resources. The schedule of these six areas are:

  • October 2018: Promote the project and Voter Engagement
  • November/December 2018: Poverty and Food Insecurity
  • January/February 2019: Racial Justice and One Book
  • March/April 2019: Environment and Climate Change
  • May/June 2019: LGBTQ+ Equality
  • July/August 2019: Public Education
  • September/October 2019: Immigration and Citizenship

You won’t want to miss what we have in store, so keep your eye on our calendar for more REACT programming.

Voter Engagement

As of the 2016 election, the population of American citizens of voting age (18+) was approx 224 million people, but only 157 million of those people were registered, and only 137 million of those reported to the polls to cast their vote in the 2016 Presidential election.

The turnout is far lower for important local elections. For example, mayoral elections in 50 US cities only garnered 15% of eligible voters.

What are the reasons for low engagement among US citizens?
Why is voting important?
What can be done to increase voter engagement?


Check out the full Voter Engagement brochure [pdf] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, and additional resources.


Poverty and Food Insecurity

As of September 2015, the Census Bureau reported that 43.1 million people lived in poverty in America, and The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in America.

More than 40 million people in America need the government’s help to keep from going hungry, and many families struggle to receive adequate nutrition. For many children, school breakfast or lunch may be the only real meal they receive per day, though the quality of these meals varies, and the number of elderly individuals experiencing food insecurity exceeded 10 million for the first time last year.

If unemployment is only 4.4 percent, why are so many still living in poverty?
Should the Federal Government spend more on anti-hunger programs?


  • Volunteer, organize a food drive, or donate to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank
  • Sponsor a meal or volunteer for Table of Plenty in Chelmsford
  • Participate in Project Bread’s Annual Walk for Hunger (May 2019) to raise money for hunger defeating programs in your community
  • Get in touch with your representatives in Congress to let them know how important this issue is to you:
  • Chelmsford Food Pantry – Located behind Town Offices at 50 Billerica Road, food pick-up times are Wednesdays 5:00-8:00, Thursdays 2:00-4:00, and Fridays 6:00-8:00. If you can offer support, drop-off hours are Thursdays 10:30-1:00, and there is also a drop-box at the Chelmsford Library
  • The Open Pantry of Greater Lowell – Located at 13 Hurd Street in Lowell and open weekdays 9am – noon and Wednesday evenings 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Check website for holiday hours and how to make donations

Check out the full Poverty & Food Insecurity brochure [pdf] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, and additional resources.


Racial Justice and One Book

Since 1960, the ethnic and racial statistics show decrease in the number of caucasian people, and an increase in those identifying as black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian and multiracial. Projections expect that this trend will continue through 2060. Chelmsford too enjoys an increase in diversity since 2010.

Such an increase in diversity is something to be celebrated. However, it seems in recent years that animosity between people of different racial or ethnic identity has increased.

How do we reverse this trend and return to working toward
a more united people?

Where do racial injustices exist in your community and in society as a whole?
Why is protecting equity and opportunity for all people important
to our country?

What measures can we take to increase equity and opportunity in America?


  • Participate in One Book Chelmsford:
    • Read Counting Descent, by Clint Smith – A collection of poetry exploring race, society, and justice in America, designed to encourage people to reflect on our culture and experiences
    • Join us as we welcome author, educator and activist Clint Smith to Chelmsford for a powerful presentation – Monday, January 28th, 2019 at 7pm in the CHS PAC
    • Read The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – A novel of a teenage girl growing up in a poor black neighborhood while attending a predominantly white suburban school who witnesses the shooting of her unarmed best friend by police
    • Attend a film screening of “The Hate U Give” at the Main Library – Sunday, April 28th, 2019 at 2pm
    • Learn more about your right to assemble and get legal questions answered about protesting injustice:

Check out the full Racial Justice and One Book brochure [pdf] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, and additional resources.


Environment and Climate Change

Research shows that sea levels have been climbing at an increased rate (3cm per decade since 1990) due to human caused climate change. This does and will continue to pose serious challenges to coastal regions, increase the likelihood of devastating storms and endanger marine wildlife.

With human ingenuity and the technological advances available to us, action is possible to mitigate the effects of climate change, and keep our planet strong for future generations.

Do you feel there is enough being done to mitigate the effects of climate change?
What are some of the barriers to action to reduce the effects of climate change?
What can you do as an individual and in your community to assist efforts to reduce the effects of climate change?


Check out the full Climate Change and the Environment brochure [pdf] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, and additional resources.


LGBTQ+ Equality

The last few decades have seen major strides in civil rights for Americans who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer. In recent years some conservatives have pushed for exemptions from civil rights laws for individuals or companies refusing, on religious or moral grounds, to provide services and even health care for LGBTQ people. Additionally, sexual orientation and gender identity are the motivation for more than one sixth of all hate crimes in the US, and bullying among teens and children is a major contributing cause of increased rates of suicide, self-harm, and homelessness.

What can we do as a community to be more inclusive and to encourage understanding of LGBTQ rights?
How do homophobia and transphobia contribute to an unsafe environment and what steps can be taken to fight prejudice?


  • Volunteer with a local LGBTQ organization such as Greater Boston PFLAG
  • Support an LGBTQ+ teen and/or teacher GLSEN Boston
  • Participate in a Pride Parade this summer Boston Pride Parade 2019
  • Get in touch with your representatives in Congress to let them know how important this issue is to you:
  • Fenway Health “The mission of Fenway Health is to enhance the well being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy.”
  • BAGLEY – “The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization, committed to social justice and creating, sustaining, and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQ youth community.”
  • Waltham House – “is the first residential group home designed specifically for LGBTQ youth in New England, and one of only three of its kind in the nation. Its founding principles are that every child deserves to live in an environment in which they feel safe, respected, supported and cared for by those around them.”
  • The Trevor Project – “Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.”

Check out the full LGBTQ+ Equality resources brochure [PDF] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, etc.


Public Education


Immigration and Citizenship

Immigration to this country began with the Spanish in the 16th century and the first English in 1607, crowding out the American Indian inhabitants. Later immigrants from all over faced resistance from the descendants of earlier colonizers as they began to have a profound impact on the identity and growth of the country. Yet America’s promise of a new life in a free country still draws hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year.

But perhaps now this promise is being revoked even before immigrants reach American soil. Recent attempts to enact unconstitutional and deeply harmful changes would dramatically change our policy and traditions.

Why is it important to foster and encourage immigration to this country?
Why is it important that our laws regarding new immigrants and citizens remain just and humane?


  • Join us for a variety of programs this fall, including lectures on the state of the Middle East, the process of immigrating to the US, how “ranked choice voting” works, a moderated discussion on immigration in America, a live showcase of personal immigration stories, and more
  • Follow the debate on immigration issues facing the country today – seek out a variety of news sources, and watch how political candidates frame their position on immigration

Check out the full Immigration and Citizenship brochure [pdf] for suggested reading, films, podcasts, and additional resources.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services logoThe Civic Engagement REACT Program is brought to you with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.