(CLOSED) Limited Submission: NEA Big Read


An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, NEA Big Read 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.

NEA Big Read annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection. Organizations selected to participate in NEA Big Read 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. Each NEA Big Read program includes: a kick-off event, often attended by high-profile leaders and other local luminaries; major events inspired by the content and themes from the book (e.g., panel discussions and author readings); artistic events related to the book (e.g., art/writing contests, film screenings, and theatrical performances); and book discussions in diverse locations involving a wide range of audiences.

To see examples of current programming and materials developed by previous grantees, visit the Community Stories tab for your chosen book at arts.gov; the NEA Big Read Pinterest account; and the Arts Midwest blog.

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

Award Amount

  • Upper $15,000
  • Eligible organizations may apply for a grant ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. These grants are federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and may be used for such expenses as book purchases, speaker fees and travel, salaries, promotion, and venue rental. Grants are cost shared and must be matched on a 1 to 1 basis with nonfederal funds such as private grants, in-kind contributions, and earned revenues.


An applicant organization must:

  1. Be a 501c(3) nonprofit organization; a unit of state, local, or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library located within the United States or its territories. 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. Check your IRSstatus.
  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.
  4. Have a DUNS (Dun and Bradstreet) number. Look up your DUNS number.
  5. Have and maintain an “active” SAM registration (System for Award Management; sam.gov) until the application process is complete, and if selected, throughout the programming dates of the award. This may include renewing your registration annually or more frequently if there are changes in the information. SAM registration is free. Contact your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center for free specialized help with the sam.gov registration process. Entities who create or update their registration in SAM.gov will no longer need to have an approved Entity Administrator notarized letter on file before their registration is activated. See here for more information. Entities seeking Federal Assistance still must mail the original, signed copy of the notarized letter to the Federal Service Desk. Failure to do so within 30 days of activation may result in the registration no longer being active. Unfortunately, the NEA and Arts Midwest have no control over the SAM requirements.
  6. Be able to comply with the federal policies and legal requirements, statutes, and regulations in the Assurance of Compliance.

Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. 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.

Selection Criteria

Application review will be based on the artistic excellence and artistic merit of the program. Applications are reviewed by an advisory panel composed of a diverse group of arts and literature experts and other individuals with broad knowledge of programs like NEA Big Read. Panel composition changes annually. 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 NEABig Read staff at Arts Midwest.

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

  1. Quality of diverse and creative literary programming that: address the themes, writing, and content of the chosen NEA Big Read book; meet the programming requirements; and have the potential to engage a wide range of community members of various ability levels and backgrounds.
  2. Relevance and depth of involvement with community partner organizations that will broaden community participation beyond the applicant’s primary constituent base and reach historically underrepresented and marginalized audiences. Examples of such partners are arts organizations, bookstores, community centers, community colleges, community service organizations, correctional institutions, libraries, local businesses, middle and high schools, military installations, museums, senior centers, social service organizations, universities, and youth groups.
  3. Comprehensive promotion of the NEA Big Read through digital and print channels as well as other public relations/marketing efforts; distribution of digital resources and promotional materials; and publicity through partnerships with local radio, print, TV, social media, and other media outlets as applicable.
  4. Capacity to manage and implement the proposed NEA Big Read programming including organizational capacity, the provision of appropriate personnel, reasonable budget plan, and evidence of the required 1 to 1 cost share/match.

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 please call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email neabigread@artsmidwest.org.

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