Binc Foundation Announces Winners of Indies with Impact Award and Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists

The Binc Foundation announces the recipients of two professional development awards that reinforce the relationship between bookstores and their local community.

Together with Penguin Random House, Binc recognizes that Sara Bruns Putman of Bookish: An Indie Shop for Folks Who Read, in Fort Smith, Arkansas has been awarded the Indies with Impact prize. Through this award, Penguin Random House supports, and strengthens the connections bookstores have with their neighbors by providing funding for the winner’s community-based initiative. The inaugural year for this two-year grant program was 2019. This was the second and final opportunity for this award, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns of 2020 and 2021.

In conjunction with the Friends of Carla Gray committee, Binc recognizes that Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven of King’s English Bookshop, in Salt Lake City, UT has been awarded the Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists.

All applicants for both awards demonstrated a strong commitment to their neighborhoods in their project proposals, which were reviewed by separate committees using anonymous impartial, rigorous, review processes.

Indies With Impact

Sara Bruns Putman explained the store’s vision of their role in the community is to foster the love of reading. They are especially passionate about reaching students between 3rd and 9th grade. Their project will focus on building classroom libraries ‘so students can see themselves reflected in those bookshelves’.

Upon learning her program had been chosen, Sara said ” I am so proud to be among the recipients of the Indies With Impact Award this year. I spent 15 years in public education and was passionate about introducing great books to the students in my classroom. When I opened the bookshop in 2018, it felt as if my classroom walls just expanded. I know first hand how difficult it is to curate a classroom library on a teacher salary, that is why I am thrilled to be able to offer scholarships to teachers in my area so they can curate their own classroom libraries – libraries that are diverse, reflective, and relevant. I am grateful to Binc for providing me and Bookish the support to jumpstart our community outreach in Arkansas. I truly believe that the right book in the right hands can change our communities and our world.”

“Independent bookstores are essential to local communities, and we are proud to provide support for booksellers who are making such a positive difference in people’s lives,” said Jaci Updike, President of Sales, Penguin Random House U.S. “A heartfelt thank you to our longtime partners at Binc for making this program possible, and for everything they do for the bookselling community across the country.”

Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists

Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven explained that talking with readers in The King’s English Bookshop and seeing their thoughts and ideas shaped by diverse books is inspiring. Her project is a store bookmobile to expand the store’s reach into the community and bring free books to children in outlying areas that have no access to books or can’t afford them. As a long term goal she wants to gradually expand and reach the ‘Native American reservations in the next five years.”

When she learned her program was chosen Mackenzie said “I’m so honored to be receiving the Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship, and so grateful to Binc for the opportunity to increase my own education and then return and share it with the store. Over the last two years, The King’s English Bookshop has undergone huge changes–both pandemic-related and not–so the financial support and opportunity for education comes at the perfect time, as we forge our new identity and find new ways to connect with and support the needs of our customers, particularly the Indigenous communities on nearby reservations.”

Pam French, Executive Director of Binc, commented, “Bookstores are the heart of a thriving community. The programs that will be launched thanks to these collaborations with Penguin Random House and the Friends of Carla Gray will have a lasting impact on the booksellers, bookstore, readers, and community. We look forward to the two visionary projects launching and seeing their lasting results.”

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