Rollins Griffith Memorial Classroom Library: Mini Grant Application

Our goal is to keep the legacy of Rollins Griffith present in BPS and to promote black authors that share the vision of antiracism, the culture of black people through art and music. We are offering 31 $250 mini grants to provisional teachers in the BPS.

All Provisional teachers are encouraged to apply


You must be a teacher of record for BPS, and a provisional teacher (years 1-3)

 Our questions:

Why is it important to be intentional about the books in our classroom libraries?


Why is it important for students/teachers to know about the history of Rollins Griffith? 


Write the titles of 3-4 books you would like to buy for your classroom library:



With the grant, teachers will:

  • buy books that diversify their classroom library by including more individuals (fiction/non-fiction) of color, including activists and history, but not limited to these topics, and include books about art/music

  • label the books with the words “Rollins Griffith Classroom Library” with a description of Rollins Griffith’s contributions (BOOKPLATES will be provided, as above.)

  • share photographs and examples of student work demonstrating how they used library in their classrooms.

 Books will be purchased through Frugal Bookstore, a black-owned bookstore in Roxbury in partnership with the Rollins Griffith Teacher Center and BPE (Boston Plan for Excellence)


Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted until May 1, 2023

Decision letters will be sent by June 1, 2023 

Grantees will share photograph and/or student work examples of how the library was utilized for stated purposes by June 27, 2023

History of Rollins Griffith & the “Rollins Griffith Teacher Center of Boston”:

"The Rollins Griffith Teacher Center of Boston” (RGTC) was a nonprofit organization run by and for educators and related personnel.  Since opening its door in 1980, it had continuously served teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators in all of Boston's schools, including private schools and day-care centers.  The RGTC dissolved its non-profit status in 2020, setting aside $7,750 to support first, second-, and third -year BPS teachers’ efforts to build Anti-Racist classroom libraries. Totaling 31, these $250- mini-awards are dedicated to the memory of Mr. Griffith, in recognition of his many outstanding contributions to the BPS.

Rollins Griffith: 

Teacher, Mentor, Musician, Principal, District Superintendent

After graduating from Roxbury Memorial High School, Rollins became both a musician and teacher, having studied classical piano at the New England Conservatory of Music.   Rollins was a jazz pianist who dreamed of an arts school for Boston's school children.  With two Master's degrees, he became a music teacher, served as an Assistant Principal at the Ellis and Lewis Schools, and was then asked to become Principal of the Patrick Campbell Junior High.  In 1968, he was appointed Area Three Superintendent, and subsequently District Five Superintendent, becoming the first African American to be chosen as a District Superintendent.

As an inspiration to teachers, Rollins Griffith--educator, artist, and visionary, believed that teachers learned best from each other. Thus, the phase "Teachers Helping Teachers" was adopted as the motto for the Rollins Griffith Teacher Center.  

Rollins was a co-founder, with John O'Bryant and Jean McGuire, of BEAM, the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts.  He also initiated the Alliance of Coordinated Services for Boston Public Schools, which included psychiatric, medical and social services for children.  Equally important, Rollins noted the lack of Black teachers in the system and convinced School Superintendent Ohrenberger of the need to recruit minority teachers.

Under Rollins leadership, in 1979 a federal grant was awarded that provided grants to teacher-run professional development programs.  The underlying principle of the Teacher Center was: Teachers themselves are primarily responsible for determining their needs and developing their desired programs. 

Sadly, Rollins died of cancer in 1978, a year before the start of the “District 5 Teacher Center”, renamed “Rollins Griffith Teacher Center of Boston” in his honor in 1986.  During the Teacher Center's 40-year history, thousands of teachers participated in workshops, conferences, attended graduate programs, while paraprofessionals earned college degrees and became teachers.  The RGTC worked with the Boston Teachers Union, Bridgewater State, Fitchburg State, Curry, Eastern Nazarene, and Lesley; developed Caribbean Cultural Exchange programs to Trinidad and Granada, coordinated a group mentoring program with the Big Sisters Association of Boston, offered Middle School Girls’ Conferences. provided sponsorships for BPS seniors for Historical ‘Black Colleges Tour’, as well as 16 years of college scholarships to 50 deserving BPS seniors seeking creative arts or teaching degree programs.

Mr. Griffith's legacy is truly monumental and inspirational to all of us. These mini-awards will help keep both his memory and legacy alive.

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Email *
Name (First, Last) *
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Where will you be teaching during SY2022-23? 
What grade (and content if secondary level) will you be teaching durring SY 2022-23?
Write a paragraph answering this  question:          
Why is it important to be intentional about the books in our classroom libraries?                                                  
Write a paragraph about why you believe that it is important to know about Rollins Griffith and his contributions to the Boston Public Schools.
Write the titles and authors of 3-4 books you would like to buy for your classroom library, and tell us why you would like them for your classroom library.
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