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Friends of the Surprise Libraries supports our community in a number of ways: ongoing programs, grants to local schools, gifts to local public libraries and donations to literacy organizations or lending libraries.

School Grants

Friends of the Surprise Libraries School Grant program is available to elementary schools and high schools.

Every year since 2006, Friends of the Surprise Libraries reaches out to the local elementary and high schools in the Dysart Unified School District No.89, and local charter schools, to support programs that encourage reading and literacy. Beginning in 2014, the Nadaburg Unified School Distict No.81 is also included in this program. With school system budget constraints many schools do not have funding they would like to purchase books that might inspire young boys and girls to read.

Over the last several years local schools have received over $416,470. Funds for these grants come from the resale of donated books, sold by Volunteers at Friends Place, in the lobby of the Surprise Library on Bullard Avenue.

Each school fills out an application explaining how a grant would help the school library or classroom and its students. A committee of Friends members then decides on the recipients and items are purchased and distributed. In years past, these grants have funded projectors to enable a class to read together, computers to enable special learning programs, and many other items that may not have been possible without the support of the Friends grants.

Grant Application Form:
  • Adobe
Grant recipients historical listing:

Friends of the Surprise Libraries Inc. Scholarship

Friends awarded a scholarship annually to a graduating high school student to assist with college tuition. The scholarships are administered by The Dysart Education Foundation. Student scholarship recipients are responsible for keeping the Foundation informed of all current information concerning home address, class schedule and G.P.A. and transcripts.
In 2021 Friends worked with Ottawa University to establish a new Grant to fund a Scholarship for students majoring in Elementary Education. Friends also supported Southwest Human Development in their Raising a Reader Program.

Friends of the Surprise Libraries funds HSE & STEM Grants

Friends provides funding to ALTRUSA OF THE WEST VALLEY in support of their West Valley service project covering a portion of the cost for HSE (formerly known as GED) testing for students completing the program at Rio Salado Community College in Surprise and at the Dysart Community Center in El Mirage. ALTRUSA is the host of a reception for the students, and their family members. Each student is partially reimbursed for the HSE test and given a certificate during a special meeting in May every year. Friends has also provided funding to provide Scholarships to middle school aged girls at Canyon Ridge Elementary School to attend ASU Summer S.T.E.M. Camps. Four scholarships were given in 2016. Funds are also Granted in support of a Parent University program at Kingswood Elementary. Annual Spring Bookmark Contest -

Friends of the Surprise Libraries supports local public and school libraries in addition to supporting literacy. For several years, the Friends have used their annual Bookmark Contest to encourage local 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to create bookmarks with a theme of reading and literacy. The Friends award the top finalists a plaque with their winning bookmark in addition to a monetary award. The bookmarks are professionally printed and offered to patrons of Friends Place, the used book store inside the Surprise Regional Library.

The Friends receive applications from Dysart District, Nadaburg District and Surprise area Charter and home schools. A committee met to decide which bookmarks would become finalists. The efforts of the students always make this decision a challenge.

  • Adobe
All entries are on a regular sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" BLANK COPY or TYPING paper with a 2 1/2" line drawn as the work area "strip" for the art work. Once art work is complete, the work is to be delivered on the 8 1/2" x 11" full sheet of paper. Art work must be signed on the back of the "strip" and submitted with a completed Entry Form.

The 2024 winners are:

  Mayor's Choice   - 8    $ 50.00 - Emma Jamison
  First Prize Grade - 6   $100.00 - Audrey Smith
  First Prize Grade - 7   $100.00 - Loredana Bordei
  First Prize Grade - 8   $100.00 - Sydney Uhl

Honorable Mention each $25.00:

  Luther Campbell   - Grade - 6
  Eden Ammerman  - Grade - 7
  Emma Lake          - Grade - 8

Annual Summer Reading Program

This program is supported by Friends of the Surprise Libraries and we have sponsored many of the special programs for kids.

Ongoing Programs
  • Friends' Place (the used book store). Gently used hard bound, paperback and audio books are available for sale at great prices whenever the library is open. DVD's are also available. All merchandise is donated by members of the community.

  • Sponsorship of Gifts to Surprise Libraries. Each year Friends of the Surprise Libraries funds a number of much needed items. The most significant gift was the large bookdrop with a special section for audio and video items protecting those items from damage in the Arizona heat. This book drop is located in the South parking lot.


    If you do not have a Library Card, stop by any Maricopa County Library to obtain one. Bring identification and information that you are a Maricopa County resident. One need not be a resident of Surprise to have a Library Card.

    Show your support; use your card.