(CLOSED) Limited Submission: NEA Big Read


The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, a partnership with Arts Midwest, broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary books that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery.

The NEA Big Read annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read book. Selected organizations receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, digital resources, and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement.

NEA Big Read applicants submit proposals to host a series of community events presented at a variety of locations over the course of one month or longer. Events use the same NEA Big Read book as a point of departure and encourage participants to engage both with the book and fellow community members.

Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.

Award Amount

Grants range from $5,000 to $15,000 each.


An applicant organization must:

  1. Comply with federal eligibility requirements. For example, an applicant must be a nonprofit 501©3 organization, a unit of state or local government, or a federally recognized tribal community or tribe. Check your IRS status.
  2. Partner with a library (if the applicant organization itself is not a library). University and college applicants must partner with a library that is not directly affiliated with their educational institution.
  3. Choose one of the 32 available reading selections. Applicants that have received an NEA Big Read grant in the past must choose a different reading selection from their previous award.

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 applicants. We do 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.

An organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources (financial, human, or other) to an affiliated organization is not eligible to apply if the affiliated organization submits its own application. This prohibition applies even if each organization has its own 501c(3) status. For example, the “Friends of ABC Library” may not also apply if the ABC Library applies. Organizations may apply for one grant per program year.

Selection Criteria

Application review will be based on the artistic excellence and artistic merit of the program. If selected for a grant, an organization will be expected to carry out a program consistent with its proposal. If changes are necessary, they must be discussed and approved by NEA Big Read staff at Arts Midwest.

Specifically, panelists will evaluate each application based on the following review criteria:

  1. Quality programming. The panel will review the relevance of the chosen book in relation to the applicant’s community goals and the quality of diverse and imaginative literary programs held at a variety of locations that: address the themes, writing, and content of the chosen NEA Big Read book; meet the programming requirements; and have the potential to achieve the goals set forth by the applicant.
  2. Community support and outreach. The panel will consider the relevance and depth of involvement with individuals and organizations that will assist with meeting the project goals and broaden audience participation beyond the applicant’s primary constituent base. The panel will also consider efforts to engage audiences of various abilities, ages, cultural backgrounds, educational levels, and occupations as partners and participants.
  3. Ability. The panel will consider the applicant’s ability to manage and implement an NEA Big Read program. The panel will consider organizational capacity, the planning timeline, the participation of appropriate personnel, a reasonable budget plan with the required 1-to-1 match, and an evaluation plan to measure against self-defined goals.
  4. Promotion. The panel will review plans for promoting NEA Big Read events and activities through digital and print channels as well as other public relations/marketing efforts; distribution of digital resources and promotional materials; and publicity through partnership with local radio, print, TV, social media, and media outlets as applicable.
Reading Selections

Applicants must choose one of the 32 reading selections from the NEA Big Read list. Applicants that have received NEA Big Read grants must choose a different reading selection than what they have received grants for in the past. More information about the books, examples of past programming, and other resources can be accessed by visiting http://www.arts.gov/national-initiatives/nea-big-read/.

Limitation Details

An Institution may submit one proposal.

If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to limsub@uga.edu according to the required instructions below.

Internal Applications must include the following:
  • A cover page listing
    • The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
    • Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
    • Collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
  • A (maximum two-page) proposal summary
  • A brief (less than a page) summary of total costs that includes the total amount of and source for any cost share if additional funding is needed beyond the amount requested from the sponsor.
  • One paragraph describing why this proposal should be UGA’s submission (i.e., why it will be the most competitive for this program)
  • Curriculum vitae
Internal Selection

Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals.  UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward.  Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria.

Internal Submission Instructions

The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to limsub@uga.edu by the internal deadline listed above.


Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to limsub@uga.edu.

For questions directly related to this program, please call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email neabigread@artsmidwest.org.

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