The award will be presented at our Read Across America Celebration in Spring, 2024.

To know Kurt Karakul is to know a man of empathy and good will. A man who understands the benefits and opportunities that literacy gives us. A man who has made the cause of literacy his cause.

This award, which rightfully bears his name, was established to recognize and support the next generation of “Kurts” in our community.

With a gift from The Third Federal Foundation, The Literacy Cooperative has created The Kurt Karakul Literacy Award to annually recognize an organization doing exemplary work to advance literacy in our community. The Literacy Cooperative will award $20,000 to a non-profit or public service organization in Cuyahoga County that embodies Kurt’s passion for literacy and his conviction to make a difference in others’ lives.


Is there a non-profit or public service organization you know in Cuyahoga County that shares Kurt’s passion and commitment for literacy? One that’s made a difference and could use funding to do even more? Tell us their story.

“The Kurt Karakul Literacy Award has enabled us to create more enriching interactions between children and their caregivers that positively impact the healthy development of our future generation.”

Lynn Foran
Executive Director, Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland


To say that Kurt Karakul has a passion for literacy would be an understatement.

A proponent for racial justice since his college days, Kurt’s commitment to literacy was ignited when he was a young attorney at Weston Hurd, LLP. Working in the juvenile court, Kurt saw a growing number of young people being pulled into the system with no way out simply because they couldn’t read very well.

“Reading is such a crucial element to bringing out your talents and being productive,” Kurt says. He soon got involved in a number of local literacy projects to help change the course of these young people’s lives. But Kurt knew he needed to do more. Named president and executive director of the Third Federal Foundation, Kurt partnered with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to design a cradle-to-career program called the Slavic Village P-16. The initiative brought stakeholders, non-profits, residents and institutions together to create programs to address literacy, the digital divide, health care, safety and stable housing.

Thanks to Kurt’s leadership, in Cleveland’s Slavic Village community there has been a tenfold increase in the number of quality pre-K seats, the number of children prepared for kindergarten has risen 185% since 2012, and the number of children who passed the third-grade reading test skyrocketed from 50% to 92%.