aka Pioneer Library System Foundation   |   Norman, OK   |

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GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 01-0946757


Established in 2010, the Pioneer Library System Foundation is the philanthropic fundraising entity for the greater Pioneer Library System (PLS). The Foundation's mission is to support literacy and a love of learning throughout PLS communities. PLS serves a diverse population of just over 400,000 people in Cleveland, McClain, and Pottawatomie Counties through 12 libraries in 10 communities and Information Stations in rural communities. Foundation donors support programs and community education initiatives above and beyond what ad valorem funding allows.

Ruling year info


Development Officer

Will Merrick

Main address

300 Norman Center Court

Norman, OK 73072 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Arts and culture



Population served info

Children and youth


NTEE code info

Libraries, Library Science (B70)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Established in 2010, the Pioneer Library System Foundation serves as the philanthropic fundraising entity for the greater Pioneer Library System – encompassing Oklahoma libraries throughout Cleveland, McClain, and Pottawatomie counties. Our donors support programs and community education activities above and beyond what is possible through ad valorem funding. For many people, their local library is the only place they can access books, the Internet, and other valuable resources. We seek to enhance these services by supporting transformational programming accessible to everyone in the community. Each year, we continue to expand our impact through the support of grants, sponsorships, and donor contributions. Together, we can place books directly into children's hands, bring families together to learn, help adults gain the literacy skills to secure jobs, and more.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Spark A Change (formerly PLS Reads)

Each year, Pioneer identifies a relevant and important topic on a community, state, and national level. Programming is provided throughout the year to further explore and discuss the issue, with the goal of sparking curiosity and inspiring change through community conversations and learning. Topics explored in the past two years include poverty and the environment.

Population(s) Served

Provides important mental activity for children during their break from school to prevent the “summer slide” by helping them maintain or increase reading and learning levels. The program also includes activities designed for teenagers, adults, and families. In 2022, 8,430 learners participated in the challenge and recorded over 17 million minutes of learning.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Growing Like a Read encourages parents and small children (birth to age four) to read together. This one-on-one interaction improves early literacy skills – helping children enter school ready to learn and to keep pace with their peers.

Access to books and educational materials is the most significant barrier to literacy development. Yet, research shows that 61% of children in low-income families have no books in their homes. To address this need, the Foundation distributes books to children aged 0-4 who participate in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). 5,850 books were distributed to families last year, and feedback from parents is overwhelmingly positive. With increased support, we expect to provide 8,500 books in 2023.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers
Economically disadvantaged people

A trusted partner in supporting the community's well-being, the library provides essential support for the community's physical, mental, social, emotional, and environmental health. A grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries allows the Foundation to support health literacy programs across all three counties. Programs offered in every branch include nutrition, healthy cooking, fitness, and mental wellness. Over the past year, 9,034 participants attended 693 health literacy programs, empowering them with the information they need to take charge of their health.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

We facilitate funding to support English as a Second Language and adult tutoring programs. By helping people gain crucial reading and speaking skills, tutors open doors for countless adults to finish school, secure jobs, and even gain citizenship.

Population(s) Served

Our donors support arts and cultural classes and experiences, engaging the community in visual arts, literature, and music.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Community Leadership Award 2013

Oklahoma Humanities Council

Affiliations & memberships

American Library Association 2010

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of books given to children through the Book Backpack Program

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Early Childhood Literacy & School Readiness

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Number of books distributed to children in low-income families

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Early Childhood Literacy & School Readiness

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We seek to create a more literate society and to enhance the quality of life for thousands of Oklahomans throughout our tri-county service area.

• Fund educational programming at all twelve Pioneer libraries each year to support all forms of literacy in today’s society, including traditional, digital, cultural, artistic, financial, and health
• Give books to children in underserved communities to encourage reading
• Engage community partners and donors in the organization’s mission
• Heighten visibility through increased marketing and promotions

Pioneer Library System Foundation’s board of directors, community partners, and Pioneer Library System staff all work together to fundraise and help make these initiatives possible.

Pioneer Library System Foundation successfully cultivates funding for Spark A Change (formerly PLS Reads), the annual Summer Learning Challenge, health and financial literacy programming, and book distribution programs for children. We seek to continue growing our support base to expand upon these programs and address additional needs that arise within our library communities.


Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 77.13 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 13.2 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 0% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of PIONEER LIBRARY SYSTEM FOUNDATION’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2022 2023
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $41,724 $30,266 $4,597 -$9,732 $99,111
As % of expenses 11.4% 18.5% 2.8% -4.4% 61.9%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $41,724 $30,266 $4,597 -$9,732 $99,111
As % of expenses 11.4% 18.5% 2.8% -4.4% 61.9%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $238,028 $201,434 $190,658 $284,416 $244,864
Total revenue, % change over prior year -8.3% -15.4% -5.3% 0.0% -13.9%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 2.7% 3.5% 2.2% 1.6% 6.3%
Government grants 52.1% 22.4% 27.1% 23.4% 19.1%
All other grants and contributions 43.6% 73.9% 70.6% 64.5% 74.5%
Other revenue 1.5% 0.1% 0.0% 10.5% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $364,683 $163,742 $161,748 $220,178 $160,076
Total expenses, % change over prior year 58.7% -55.1% -1.2% 0.0% -27.3%
Personnel 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Professional fees 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.9% 2.3%
Occupancy 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5% 0.0%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 99.8% 99.1% 99.1% 96.6% 93.1%
All other expenses 0.2% 0.9% 0.9% 0.0% 4.5%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2022 2023
Total expenses (after depreciation) $364,683 $163,742 $161,748 $220,178 $160,076
One month of savings $30,390 $13,645 $13,479 $18,348 $13,340
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $395,073 $177,387 $175,227 $238,526 $173,416

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2022 2023
Months of cash 6.5 16.3 18.3 18.9 32.0
Months of cash and investments 6.5 16.3 18.3 18.9 32.0
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 4.5 12.2 12.7 11.1 22.6
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2022 2023
Cash $198,160 $222,393 $246,584 $346,802 $426,747
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $45,244 $16,207 $6,509 $22,924 $5,425
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 10.0% 8.5% 2.7% 6.1% 2.4%
Unrestricted net assets $136,636 $166,902 $171,499 $203,005 $302,116
Temporarily restricted net assets $87,212 $58,119 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $29,093 $40,178 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $116,305 $98,297 $129,057 $202,860 $190,835
Total net assets $252,941 $265,199 $300,556 $405,865 $492,951

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2022 2023
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Development Officer

Will Merrick

Since 2012, Merrick served as Vice President of Foundation Management, where he assisted private foundation with their grantmaking throughout Oklahoma. He also has served in leadership fundraising positions with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Integris Health Foundation and the University of Oklahoma. Merrick is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City Class XXXI and Leadership Oklahoma Class 27. He was a member of the Journal Record’s 2015 Class of Achievers under 40. He also participated in numerous grant review and scholarship selection committees and has been involved with Philanthropy Southwest for over 10 years through serving on the Board of Directors and various committees. He received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 01/18/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Dr. Brent Sykes, PhD

Randall University

Term: 2021 - 2024

Mary Carter

OKDiva Ink, LLC

Jamie Crowe

South OKC Chamber of Commerce

Carlee Jacks

McClain Bank

Amanda Johnson

First United Bank

Travis Lightsey

University of Oklahoma

Sally Maynard

Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma Real Estate

Gareth Williams

Armstrong Bank

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/18/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data