Miami Dade College Once Again Receives NEA’s The Big Read Grant

Miami, June 25, 2020 – Miami Dade College (MDC) is once again a recipient of a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to participate in the 2020-2021 edition of The Big Read, an initiative dedicated to support organizations across the country in developing community-wide programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. The grant directly benefits MDC’s Miami Book Fair, which has been part of The Big Read for the past 14 years and has distributed about 25,000 free books to date.

“We are very proud to be once again the beneficiaries of this important award, that will allow us to continue the Miami Book Fair’s mission to foster a love of reading within the South Florida community,” said Delia Lopez, Miami Book Fair’s director of operations.

Each year, the Miami Book Fair selects one book to read as a community. It distributes more than a thousand free copies of that book to the public, as well as Miami-Dade County Public Schools and MDC, where instructors incorporate the reading into their curriculum. The Fair also hosts various related discussions, events and activities. Past selections have included Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451;” Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club;” the poetry of current U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried;” and more.

The next Big Read kicks-off March 2021 with “Lab Girl,” a critically acclaimed national bestseller written by geobiologist Hope Jahren, who has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. “Lab Girl” is her revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. Through her writing style, which combines short sections on the natural world interspersed with and connected to the story of her life, Jahren captivates and engages
the reader’s curiosity about the scientific process and, particularly, plants and trees.

“We chose this award-winning memoir because of its universal themes – the importance of science, human’s impact on the environment, the value of long-term friendships, overcoming challenges and fighting stereotypes, women’s struggle for recognition in science, living with mental illness, and the ongoing need for greater representation of girls and women in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering, and computer science,” said Lissette Mendez, Miami Book Fair’s director of programs.

MDC is one of 84 organizations to receive funding for NEA Big Read projects, which include hosting a variety of in-person or virtual events and discussions designed to highlight the book and encourage participation among a wide range of community members. Since 2006, more than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event. Miami Book Fair will program activities throughout March 2021.

The NEA Big Read is a National Endowment for the Arts initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, which manages the grant program. For more information, visit

About Miami Book Fair

Miami Book Fair, widely considered the largest and finest literary event in the U.S., is part of the Cultural Affairs Department of Miami Dade College. In addition to the annual eight-day festival that takes place on the Wolfson Campus of the College in Downtown Miami, Miami Book Fair presents literary programs throughout Miami all year long. Miami Book Fair is made possible through the generous support of the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Miami; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Miami Downtown Development; and the Friends of the Fair; as well as many corporate partners.

For more information, please visit Follow the Miami Book Fair on social media @miamibookfair.