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Grants and In-Kind Support to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, and
Tribes for Community Events that Promote Reading

NEA Big Read

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Arts Midwest

Deadline Date:

01/26/22 Midnight (Central Time)


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Grants of up to $20,000 and in-kind support to USA nonprofit organizations, government divisions and agencies, school districts, Tribes, and public libraries for programs that promote reading. In addition to grant funds, recipients will also receive promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement as well as access to online training resources and opportunities.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community.

The NEA Big Read annually provides support to selected nonprofit organizations around the country to host dynamic community-wide reading programs. Each awarded organization works in collaboration with local community partners to develop and conduct engaging virtual and/or in-person events and activities.

Each NEA Big Read program includes: a kick-off event to mark the start of the program; book discussions; events inspired by the content and themes from the book (e.g., panel discussions, lectures, film screenings); and projects that engage the community and/or respond creatively to the book (e.g., art exhibitions, theatrical and/or musical performances, poetry slams, writing workshops and contests, activities related to collecting and sharing oral/written stories from members of the community). Collectively, events and programming should: reach a variety of audiences; be held in a variety of spaces (can be virtual and physical); when possible, encourage community participants to engage with one another and/or the book; and span a timeframe that makes sense for the community (as short as a week or as long as several months) within the programming period.

Funding may support: Supplies, artistic fees, speaker fees, project overhead costs, promotional fees, salaries, venue rental fees, travel costs, book purchases, and other expenses directly related and necessary to conducting a community-wide multidisciplinary arts program.

Reading Selections: Applicants must choose one of 15 reading selections from the 2022-23 NEA Big Read list as inspiration for programming. These 15 titles together present an array of voices, perspectives, time periods, and genres. In addition to these titles, applicants may choose to develop certain events and/or activities around other literary titles that relate in some way (thematically, historically, etc.) to the NEA Big Read book for the purpose of broadening audience participation. These “companion” titles may span other genres, such as YA, children’s books, poetry, graphic novels, etc.

For Program Requirements, see page 5 of the Guidelines document in Supporting Documents below. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 187206

Number of Grants:

Approximately 75 organizations in communities of varying sizes across the country will be selected to participate in NEA Big Read each year from September through June.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants range from $5,000 to $20,000 each.

Term of Contract:

Programming Dates: September 1, 2022—June 30, 2023

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant your organization must be one of the following.
- 501c(3) Nonprofit
- School district, local, state, or regional education agency
- Division of state, local, or tribal government
- Tax-exempt public library

Applicant organizations for NEA Big Read must be a 501c(3) nonprofit; a division of state, local, or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library. Eligible applicants include organizations such as arts centers, arts councils, arts organizations, colleges and universities, community service organizations, environmental organizations, fairs and festivals, faith-based organizations, historical societies, housing authorities, humanities councils, libraries, literary centers, museums, school districts, theater companies, trade associations, and tribal governments.

Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. Arts Midwest does not fund individual elementary or secondary schools—charter, private, or public—directly. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. If a single school also is a local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as a local education agency.

The National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. Proposed NEA Big Read events should be open and accessible to all individuals regardless of race, color, physical or mental ability, religion, creed, medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, nationality, age, veteran status, marital status, political affiliation, domestic partnership status, or any other protected class under federal, state, or local law.

Unallowable expenses include: refreshments, meals (unless as part of speaker per diem), prizes, fundraising costs, alcohol, etc. Contact Arts Midwest with any specific concerns.

Funding is not available for:
- Overlapping project costs between federal awards, whether received directly from a federal agency or indirectly, such as through a state agency or other entity.
- Programs restricted to any organization's membership; programs must be promoted and available to the general public.
- Payment for facilities, purchase of capital equipment, or non-project related administrative expenses.
- Fellowships or cash prizes.
- Capital improvements or construction, purchase of capital goods, purchase of real estate property, or endowments.
- Expenses to purchase alcoholic beverages or to pay associated costs (servers, insurance, liquor licenses, etc.)
- Entertainment costs, such as opening parties, receptions, or fundraisers designed to raise funds for your own organization and on behalf of another person, organization, or cause.

Pre-Application Information:

Complete and submit the application form by midnight (Central time) Wednesday, January 26, 2022. Instructions to access your application will be sent once your intent to apply has been processed.

- October 2021: Guidelines and application available
- January 26, 2022: Application deadline
- February – April 2022: Panel review
- Late April 2022: Notification to applicants
- Fall 2022: Next grant opportunity available for 2023-2024 programs

Applicants, especially first-time applicants, are strongly encouraged to reach out to Arts Midwest before they apply to help you conceptualize a competitive proposal. Arts Midwest manages grant applications for the NEA Big Read and serves as the program manager on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts. Its experienced staff can answer questions on eligibility and program intent, project development, grant attachment verification, and can, upon request, review your application materials in advance of the deadline.

The NEA Big Read grant derives from federal funds and must be matched 1 to 1 with non-federal funds. Eligible items for match may include any combination of earned revenues, private/local grants, in-kind contributions, cash, salaries and wages from the applicant organization and partner organizations.

Applicants must Have a valid DUN and Bradstreet or UEI number via (free to acquire). Awarded organizations will need to register in for federal assistance purposes in April 2022. See

View the list of eligible reading selections to choose from at

Application Process:

Application Advice:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit your intent to apply to begin your application:

If you have questions about the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, application components, or the application guidelines, please call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email

For help, contact Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or to schedule a 15-minute consultation with Arts Midwest staff.

Please email Arts Midwest at or leave a message at 612.238.8010 to connect about your needs. You can also visit Arts Midwest’s Accessibility Center at

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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