Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

Museums for America – FY14 Guidelines
Application Deadline: December 2, 2013
(Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014.)

Date Posted: September 16, 2013
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.301

IMLS Information

Guideline Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Information

  3. Eligibility

  4. Registration Requirements

  5. Preparing and Submitting an Application

  6. After You Apply

Questions? See the Museums for America web page for IMLS contact information.

Teletype (TTY/TDD) (for persons with hearing difficulty): 202-653-4614
Upon request, IMLS will provide an audio recording of this publication.

 Webinars with Program Staff

We are available by phone and through email to discuss general issues relating to the Museums for America program. We will offer two webinars, available through the Blackboard Collaborate system, for the FY2014 cycle.

If you are a first-time user of Blackboard Collaborate, click here to check your system compatibility in advance of the webinar. You will be able to confirm that your operating system and Java are up-to-date, and enter a Configuration Room that will allow you to configure your connection speed and audio settings before the IMLS webinar begins. (If you choose to enter a Configuration Room, please note that the IMLS webinar will use Blackboard version 12.5.)

1. Pre-Recorded Webinar
A pre-recorded webinar detailing important information about IMLS funding opportunities is available here. When running the webinar, you may be prompted to install the latest version of Java. If you get system prompts while logging in, choose “Run,” “Accept,” or “OK.” The audio for the pre-recorded webinar is available through your computer’s speakers. Please click here to enter a Configuration Room to test your audio. (Please note: the last slide of the pre-recorded webinar lists the schedule for all live webinars; this schedule has been changed.) Read Pre-Recorded Webinar Transcript (PDF, 5.3MB)

2. Live Webinar
Click here for a recording of the live webinar. Read webinar transcript (PDF, 11.0MB)

After you have viewed the pre-recorded webinar listed above, we invite you to participate in a live pre-application webinar to learn more about the Museums for America project categories, ask questions of IMLS staff members, and listen to the questions and comments of other participants.

The live webinar for the FY14 Museums for America program will occur on Friday, November 1, at 2pm ET. Click here for a recording of the live webinar.

You will be required to provide a name to enter the webinar. Please note that the name you enter will be visible to all participants in the webinar, and we will use it to call on you if you have a question, so please use a name that is pronounceable and appropriate.

When joining the webinar, you may be prompted to install the latest version of Java. If you get system prompts while logging in, choose “Run,” “Accept,” or “OK.”

The audio for the live webinar is available through your computer’s speakers. Please click here to enter a Configuration Room to test your audio. Alternatively, you may dial in to hear audio for the live webinar over your telephone. Using any touch-tone phone, call (866) 299-7945. When prompted to enter a passcode, enter 9910420#.

Please note that the webinar schedule is subject to change. The week of October 28, visit the Museums for America web page to confirm the date and time of the live webinar.

Equal Opportunity

IMLS-funded programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. For further information, write to the Civil Rights Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services, 1800 M Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802.

Office of Management and Budget Clearance Numbers

Guidelines: OMB No. 3137-0029; Expiration Date: September 30, 2015.
Forms: OMB No. 3137-0071; Expiration Date: September 30, 2015.

How long should it take me to complete this application?

We estimate the average amount of time needed for one applicant to complete the narrative portion of this application to be 40 hours. This includes the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and writing and reviewing the answers.

We estimate that, in addition to the time needed for you to answer the narrative questions, it will take you an average of 15 minutes per response for the IMLS Program Information Sheet and three hours per response for the IMLS Budget Form.

Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to the Institute of Museum and Library Services at 1800 M Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3137-0029), Washington, DC 20503.

 

1. Introduction

The mission of the Institute of Museum and Library Services is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grantmaking.

U.S. museums and libraries are at the forefront in the movement to create a nation of learners. As stewards of cultural and natural heritage with rich, authentic content, libraries and museums provide learning experiences for everyone. In FY2014, each Museums for America award will support one of the following three goals of the IMLS strategic plan for 2012-2016, Creating a Nation of Learners:

  1. IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

  2. IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.

  3. IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.

The goals focus on achieving positive public outcomes for communities and individuals; supporting the unique role of museums and libraries in preserving and providing access to collections and content; and promoting library, museum, and information service policies that ensure access to information for all Americans.

Supporting STEM Initiatives

We invite applicants to address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in their programs and projects in order to advance learning and support the acquisition of STEM knowledge at all ages, but particularly for at-risk youth. Click here to learn more about IMLS’s role in STEM initiatives. Projects addressing STEM learning should check the appropriate box on the IMLS Program Information Sheet component of the application.

 

2. Program Information

What are Museums for America grants?

Museums for America (MFA) supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public.

What are the characteristics of successful Museums for America projects?

  • Institutional Impact: Your project should address a key need or challenge that faces your museum and is identified in your strategic plan.
  • In depth knowledge: Your proposal should reflect a thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about the subject matter.
  • Project-based design: Your work plan should consist of a set of logical, interrelated activities tied directly to addressing the key need or challenge.
  • Demonstrable results: Your project should generate measureable results that tie directly to the need or challenge it was designed to address.

Note to applicants: The FY2014 Museums for America grant opportunity encompasses those types of proposals that were previously solicited through the Conservation Project Support program. IMLS maintains its commitment to collections care, conservation, and preservation, and encourages a step-by-step, progressive approach to conservation.

What is the deadline for applying for a Museums for America grant ?

The deadline for the FY2014 Museums for America grants is December 2, 2013.

What is the period of time in which my organization can conduct activities funded by a FY14 MFA grant?

Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Projects must begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the final month of the project. Generally, project activities supported by MFA grants may be carried out for up to three years.

How much money can my institution apply for?

MFA grant awards range from $5,000 to $150,000, subject to the availability of funds and IMLS discretion.

Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for an MFA grant?

In order to receive a FY2014 MFA grant of more than $25,000, you must provide funds (called “cost share”) from non-federal sources in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount of the grant. Click here for further information on cost sharing.

Proposals requesting $25,000 or less in IMLS funds from the FY2014 MFA grant program do not require cost share. Do not include cost share on the IMLS Budget Form for these proposals.

How many applications can we submit to this program?

If your museum submits an application requesting $25,000 or less, a “no cost share” application, you are limited to one application to the FY2014 MFA grant program. Otherwise, there is no limit on the number of applications your museum may submit to this program.

What are the project categories within the MFA grant program?

There are three project categories within the MFA program, each stemming from one of the three goals from the IMLS strategic plan mentioned above. Select the one that best fits your project.

Learning Experiences
IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.
These projects provide high-quality, inclusive, accessible, and audience-focused learning opportunities; provide access to collections, information, and educational resources; encourage the use of technologies; and develop programs for specific segments of the public.
Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Interpretive and educational program research, development, and delivery
  • Exhibition research, development, design, and fabrication
  • Website and social media content development, design, and delivery
  • Publication research, design, and printing
  • Training for staff, volunteers, and educators

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in the Learning Experiences category.

Please click here for hints on writing a budget justification.

To find additional examples of recently funded grants, go to the Search Awarded Grants function on the IMLS website. Click here to search awarded grants by program, category, and/or key word.

Click here to learn about the requirements for projects that develop digital content.

Community Anchors
IMLS promotes museums as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.

These projects harness a museum’s expertise, knowledge, physical space, technology, or other resources in order to address a specific need originating in the community. Museums may undertake the project alone or in partnership with one or more community organizations.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Forums for community dialogue
  • Community-driven exhibitions and programs
  • Community events
  • Planning activities
  • Technology tools
  • Training for staff, volunteers, and interns in community outreach and engagement

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in the Community Anchors category.

Please click here for hints on writing a budget justification.

To find additional examples of recently funded grants, go to the Search Awarded Grants function on the IMLS website. Click here to search awarded grants by program, category, and/or key word.

Click here to learn about the requirements for projects that develop digital content.

Collections Stewardship
IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage. Projects should address high priority collections care or conservation issues.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Planning for collections management, care, and conservation
  • Cataloguing, inventorying, documenting, and registering
  • Developing and enhancing collections databases
  • Conservation surveys Click here to learn more about surveys.
  • Conservation treatment
  • Conservation environmental improvements for collections storage and exhibit areas
  • Conservation research
  • Training of staff, volunteers, and interns in collections care, management, and/or conservation

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in the Collections Stewardship category.

Please click here for hints on writing a budget justification.

To find additional examples of recently funded grants, go to the Search Awarded Grants function on the IMLS website. Click here to search awarded grants by program, category, and/or key word.

Click here to learn about the requirements for projects that develop digital content.

About Digitization: You may request funding to support digitization activities (i.e. the scanning of printed materials, texts, still images, and audio-visual materials) or the creation of digital files using a device such as a digital camera in any MFA project category. Be sure to select the category that best matches the use to which you will put the digitized content you will create. Click here to learn about the requirements for projects that develop digital content.

What do I need to know about acknowledgement of IMLS support, sharing IMLS-supported work products and copyright, data management and sharing?

Read more about acknowledgement of IMLS support, sharing IMLS-supported work products and copyright, data management and sharing.

What requirements govern the use of IMLS funds?

You may use IMLS funds for activities that may be funded under program-specific requirements of the FY2014 Museums for America grant program, and that are allowable under IMLS and government-wide cost principle rules, including OMB circulars and regulations.

How do I determine what costs are allowable?

In addition to the program-specific requirements included in these FY2014 MFA guidelines, organizations must follow applicable laws and regulations. Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provides specific information on cost principles for allowable costs in federal grants.

Consult these FY2014 Museums for America program guidelines and the appropriate cost principles in the CFR to determine the allowability of a proposed cost item in your budget proposal.

If your organization is a …

Then use these cost principles

Non-profit Organization

2 CFR 230 (OMB Circular A-122)

State, Local or Indian Tribal Government

2 CFR 225 (OMB Circular A-87)

College or University

2 CFR 220 (OMB Circular A-21)

What are some examples of allowable costs for the FY2014 Museums for America grants?

The following list includes some examples of allowable costs in this grant program. Please consult the appropriate cost principles in the CFR for additional guidance on allowable costs.

  • personnel salaries, wages, and fringe benefits
  • travel expenses for key project staff and consultants
  • materials, supplies, software, and equipment, including basic environmental monitoring equipment and conservation supplies, related directly to project activities
  • heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to improve collections storage and exhibit environments
  • consultant fees
  • publication design and printing
  • services (e.g. design, technical support, printing, non-construction labor)
  • staff and volunteer training
  • internships/fellowships
  • contracts and subcontracts
  • indirect or overhead costs (Click here to learn more about indirect costs.)

What are some examples of unallowable costs for the FY2014 Museums for America grants?

The following list includes some examples of unallowable costs in this grant program. Please consult the appropriate cost principles in the CFR for additional guidance on allowable costs.

  • general museum fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising
  • contributions to endowments
  • general museum operating support
  • acquisition of collections
  • general advertising or public relations costs designed solely to promote activities other than those related to the specific project
  • construction and renovation of museum facilities (generally, any activity involving contract labor of the construction trades is not an allowable cost)
  • exhibit fabrication that involves contract labor of the construction trades
  • reconstruction or renovation of historic sites
  • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment
  • subgrants, unless expressly authorized by IMLS
  • pre-award costs

If you have questions about allowable costs, please call us for guidance.

Are partners required for MFA?

Partners may strengthen an MFA application, if they are appropriate to the project, but they are not required. An application may include one or more partners. The lead applicant must be eligible to apply as an individual entity, and all partners should be active contributors to project activities. Please note that we encourage the lead applicant to include a letter of support from each partner. Click here to learn more about partnerships.

 

3. Eligibility

Is my organization eligible for an award under the FY2014 Museums for America program?

To be eligible for an award under the FY2014 Museums for America program, you must be an organization that meets all three of the following criteria:

  1. You must be either a unit of State or local government or be a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code;

  2. You must be located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and

  3. You must qualify as one of the following:

    1. A museum that, using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes; owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; cares for these objects; and exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities that it owns or operates.

      • What types of institutions are included in the term “museum”? 
        If they otherwise meet these requirements, including the criteria in (3)(a) above, museums include, but are not limited to, aquariums, arboretums, art museums, botanical gardens, children’s/youth museums, general museums (those having two or more significant disciplines), historic houses/sites, history museums, natural history/anthropology museums, nature centers, planetariums, science/technology centers, specialized museums (limited to a single distinct subject), and zoological parks.

      • What does it mean to be using a professional staff? 
        An institution uses a professional staff it if employs at least one staff member, or the full-time equivalent, whether paid or unpaid, primarily engaged in the acquisition, care, or exhibition to the public of objects owned or used by the institution.

      • What does it mean to exhibit the objects to the general public? 
        An institution exhibits objects to the general public if such exhibition is a primary purpose of the institution.  An institution that exhibits objects to the general public for at least 120 days a year is deemed to exhibit objects to the general public on a regular basis.

        An institution which does not have the exhibition of objects as a primary purpose and/or does not exhibit objects to the public for at least 120 days a year may be determined to be eligible as a museum under certain circumstances.  For more information, please see 45 CFR §1180.2(d).

    2. A public or private nonprofit agency which is responsible for the operation of a museum that meets the eligibility criteria in (a) above may apply on behalf of the museum.

If my museum is located within a parent organization, can my museum apply on its own?

A museum located within a parent organization that is a state or local government or multipurpose nonprofit entity, such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center, may apply on its own behalf if the museum

  • is able to independently fulfill all the eligibility requirements listed in the above three criteria;
  • functions as a discrete unit within the parent organization;
  • has its own fully segregated and itemized operating budget; and
  • has the authority to make the application on its own.

When any of the last three conditions cannot be met, a museum may only apply through its parent organization.

Is a nonprofit organization eligible if it is affiliated with a museum?

IMLS may determine that a nonprofit organization that is affiliated with a museum is eligible for this program where the organization can demonstrate that it has the ability to administer the project and can ensure compliance with the terms of these guidelines and the applicable law, including the Assurances and Certifications. The applicant organization must submit an agreement from the museum that details the activities that the applicant and museum will perform and binds the museum to the statements and assurances made in the grant application.

Note to applicants: In order to receive an IMLS grant award, you must be in compliance and good standing on all active IMLS grants.

 

4. Registration Requirements

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S® Number, SAM.gov registration, and Grants.gov registration. Check your materials and registrations well in advance of the application deadline to ensure that they are accurate, current, and active.

What is a D-U-N-S® Number and how do I get one?
Click here to learn more about getting a D-U-N-S® Number.

What is the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) and how do I register?
Click here to learn more about SAM.gov Registration.

What is Grants.gov and how do I register?
Click here to learn more about Grants.gov Registration and Tips for Using Grants.gov.

 

5. Preparing and Submitting an Application

WE MAKE GRANTS ONLY TO ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS THAT SUBMIT COMPLETE APPLICATIONS, INCLUDING ATTACHMENTS, ON OR BEFORE THE DEADLINE.

For the FY2014 Museums for America grants, Grants.gov will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 2, 2013.
We strongly recommend that you REGISTER EARLY and COMPLETE AND SUBMIT THE APPLICATION EARLY.

Click here to learn more about Grants.gov.

Use one of the following identifiers to locate the Museums for America Grants package in Grants.gov:
CFDA No: 45. 301, or
Funding Opportunity Number: MFA-FY14

 

What documents are required to make a complete application?

The Table of Application Components below will help you prepare a complete and eligible application. Links to more information and instructions for completing each application component are provided in the table. Applications missing any Required Documents or Conditionally Required Documents from this list will be considered incomplete and will be rejected from further consideration.

How should the application components be formatted, named, and sequenced?

  • Document format: Aside from the first two documents listed below which are created in Grants.gov, all application components must be submitted as PDF documents.
  • Page limits: Note page limits listed below. We will remove any pages above the limit, and we will not send them to reviewers as part of your application.
  • Naming convention: Use the naming convention indicated below. IMPORTANT: You are limited to using the following characters in all attachment file names: A-Z, a-z, 0-9, underscore (_), hyphen (-), space, period. If you use any other characters when naming your attachment files, your application will be rejected.
  • Document order: In Grants.gov, append all application components in the sequence listed below. Use all available spaces in the "Mandatory Documents for Submission" box first. Append any remaining application components using the "Optional Documents for Submission" box.
  • Complete applications: Use the table below as a checklist to ensure that you have created and attached all necessary application components.

Any document you create must be converted  to PDF format before submitting it. Click here for assistance in converting documents to PDF. Do not send secured or password-protected PDFs; we cannot process these files.

 

When entering the names on the SF-424S, note that the Authorized Representative cannot be the same person as the Project Director.

 

Table of Application Components

Component

Format

File name to use

Required Documents

The Application for Federal Assistance/Short Organizational Form (SF-424S) Grants.gov form n/a
Abstract (to be uploaded through Grants.gov) (one page, max.) Text document that you create n/a
IMLS Program Information Sheet IMLS PDF form Programinfo.pdf
Organizational Profile (one page, max.) PDF document Organizationalprofile.pdf
Strategic Plan Summary (two pages, max.) PDF document Strategicplan.pdf
Narrative (seven pages, max.) PDF document Narrative.pdf
Schedule of Completion (one page per year, max.) PDF document Scheduleofcompletion.pdf
IMLS Budget Form IMLS PDF form Budget.pdf
Budget Justification PDF document Budgetjustification.pdf
List of Key Project Staff and Consultants (one page, max.) PDF document Projectstaff.pdf
Resumes of Key Project Staff and Consultants that appear on the list above (two pages each, max.) PDF document Resumes.pdf

Conditionally Required Documents

Proof of Nonprofit Status (if applicable) PDF document Proofnonprofit.pdf
Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if applicable) PDF document Indirectcostrate.pdf
Digital Content Supplementary Information Form (if applicable) IMLS PDF form Digitalcontent.pdf

Supporting Documents

Information that supplements the narrative and supports the project description provided in the application PDF document Supportingdoc1.pdf
Supportingdoc2.pdf
Supportingdoc3.pdf
etc.

 

Abstract

A project abstract should be no more than one page. Insert the text, which you generate through a word processing program and save as a PDF, into the Abstract field in Grants.gov.

Information in the abstract should cover the following areas as related to the proposed project:

  • Who is the lead applicant and, if applicable, who are the partners?
  • What need, problem, or challenge will your project address?
  • What activities will you carry out and in what time frame?
  • What are your intended results and how will you measure success?
  • How will this project provide public benefit?

This abstract may be used for public information purposes, so it should be informative to other people working in the same or related fields, as well as to the lay reader. The abstract must not include any proprietary or confidential information.

IMLS Program Information Sheet

1. Applicant Information

  1. Legal Name: From 5a from SF424S.

  2. Applicant D-U-N-S® Number: From 5f from SF424S.

  3. Check Yes or No and provide expiration date, if you check the Yes box. Please note that, before submitting an application, your organization must have a current SAM.gov registration.

  4. Organizational Unit: If you cannot apply for grants on your own behalf, then enter your organizational unit’s name and address in these spaces. For example, if your library is part of a parent organization, such as a university, then enter the name of the university under Legal Name, and the library as the Organizational Unit.

  5. Organizational Unit Address: Be sure to include the four-digit extension on the ZIP code.

  6. Organizational Unit Type: Select the one that most accurately describes your organization.

2. Organizational Financial Information

a-d. All applicants must provide the information requested.

3. Grant Program Information

  • Select one project category under e. Museums for America.
  • Then select the button indicating whether you’re applying for $25,000 or less, which doesn’t require cost share, or more than $25,000, which does.

4. Check this box if your project addresses STEM learning.

5. Funding Request Information

  1. IMLS Funds Requested: Enter the amount in dollars sought from IMLS.

  2. Cost Share Amount: Enter the amount of non-federal funding you are providing, which must be at least one-half of the total project cost if you are requesting more than $25,000. Click here to learn more about cost share. This box should be blank if you are requesting $25,000 or less in IMLS funds.

6. Project Subject Area: Select the buttons that reflect the subject areas to be addressed by your project.

7. Population Served: Check the boxes that reflect the population(s) to be served by your project.

8. Museum Profile
Museum applicants must answer all questions (a - m) in this section.

9. Project Elements
Refer to the project category you selected in Question 3 above and select the one button that reflects the primary element that is core to your project. For conservation projects only, select additional button(s) corresponding to the material type(s) that will be primarily affected by your project.

Download IMLS Program Information Sheet:
Adobe® PDF
 (318 KB)

Strategic Plan Summary

A strategic plan is key to MFA project proposals. Reviewers will use your strategic plan summary to understand how your project activities will further your institutional goals and objectives. Please do not submit a copy of your institution’s entire strategic plan. The summary submitted must not exceed two pages in length and should indicate when and by whom the plan was approved.

Narrative

How should my narrative document be formatted?
Limit the narrative to seven single-spaced, numbered pages. We will remove any pages above the seven-page limit, and they will not be reviewed as part of your application.

Make sure your organization's name appears at the top of each page. Use at least 0.5-inch margins on all sides and a font size of at least twelve-point. See the instructions for "Supporting Documents" to provide supplementary material.

How will my narrative be reviewed?
Reviewers with a variety of professional backgrounds will read these applications and advise us on their merits. They will base their evaluations on the information presented in the applications. Your project narrative should therefore be clear, concise, and well organized, with a minimum of technical jargon.

Review criteria are listed below for each section of the narrative. These criteria describe what the reviewers are instructed to consider as they evaluate proposals. Keep these review criteria in mind when writing your narrative.

How should my narrative be structured?
Structure your narrative according to one of the the following outlines, choosing the one that corresponds to your category. Use the three section titles in the same order in which they are listed here and address the bullet points beneath them. In each section, be mindful of the characteristics of successful MFA projects: institutional impact, in-depth knowledge, project-based design, and demonstrable results.

Narrative—Learning Experiences

1. Project Justification

  • What do you propose to do?
  • What need, problem, or challenge will your project address?
  • Who or what will benefit from your project?
  • What are the intended results of your project?
  • How will your project advance your institution’s strategic plan?

Review Criteria:

  • Is the project clearly explained?
  • Is the need, problem, or challenge to be addressed clearly identified and supported by relevant evidence?
  • Are the people who will benefit from the project clearly identified, and have they been involved in planning this project?
  • Are the intended results well formulated and achievable?
  • Are the ways in which this project advances your institution’s strategic plan specific, actionable, and measurable?
  • Does the project align with the MFA Learning Experiences category?

2. Project Work Plan

  • What specific activities will you carry out?
  • Who will plan, implement, and manage your project?
  • When and in what sequence will your activities occur?
  • What financial, personnel, and other resources will you need to carry out the activities?
  • What resources will your institution contribute to the project?
  • How will you track your progress toward achieving your intended results?
  • How and with whom will you share your project’s results?

Review Criteria:

  • Are the proposed activities, technologies, and/or methodologies informed by appropriate theory and practice?
  • Are the technical details including all information required using the Digital Content Supplementary Information Form provided for projects generating digital products?
  • Do the identified staff, partners, consultants, and service providers possess the experience and skills necessary to complete the work successfully?
  • Is the schedule of work realistic and achievable? Are the time, personnel, and financial resources identified appropriate for the scope and scale of the project?
  • Does the institution provide evidence of its capacity to carry out the project activities and meet the cost-share requirement?
  • Is a clear methodology described for tracking the project’s progress and adjusting course when necessary?
  • Is there an effective plan for communicating results and/or sharing discoveries?

3. Project Results

  • What knowledge, skills, behaviors, or attitudes do you expect to change and among whom?
  • How will you measure success in achieving your intended results?
  • What project results will be of value to the field?
  • How will you sustain the benefit(s) of your project?

Review Criteria:

  • Are the project's intended results clearly articulated?
  • Will the tangible products be useful? (e.g. reports, publications, presentations, databases)
  • Are the measures of success in achieving results appropriate for the project?
  • Is there a reasonable and practical plan for sustaining the benefits of the project beyond the conclusion of this grant?

Narrative—Community Anchors

1. Project Justification

  • What do you propose to do?
  • What community need, problem, or challenge will your project address?
  • Who or what will benefit from your project?
  • What are the intended results of your project?
  • How will your project advance your institution’s strategic plan?

Review Criteria:

  • Is the project clearly explained?
  • Is the community need, problem, or challenge to be addressed clearly identified and supported by relevant evidence?
  • Are the people who will benefit from the project clearly identified, and have they been involved in planning this project?
  • Are the intended results well formulated and achievable?
  • Are the ways in which this project advances your institution’s strategic plan specific, actionable, and measurable?
  • Does the project align with the MFA Community Anchors category?

2. Project Work Plan

  • What specific activities will you carry out?
  • Who will plan, implement, and manage your project?
  • When and in what sequence will your activities occur?
  • What financial, personnel, and other resources will you need to carry out the activities?
  • What resources will your institution contribute to the project?
  • How will you track your progress toward achieving your intended results?
  • How and with whom will you share your project’s results?

Review Criteria:

  • Are the proposed activities, technologies, and/or methodologies informed by appropriate theory and practice?
  • Are the technical details including all information required using the Digital Content Supplementary Information Form provided for projects generating digital products?
  • Do the identified staff, partners, consultants, and service providers possess the experience and skills necessary to complete the work successfully?
  • Is the schedule of work realistic and achievable?
  • Are the time, personnel, and financial resources identified appropriate for the scope and scale of the project?
  • Does the institution provide evidence of its capacity to carry out the project activities and meet the cost-share requirement?
  • Is a clear methodology described for tracking the project’s progress and adjusting course when necessary?
  • Is there an effective plan for communicating results and/or sharing discoveries?

3. Project Results

  • What knowledge, skills, behaviors and/or attitudes do you expect to change and among whom?
  • What tangible products (e.g. reports, publications, presentations, databases) will result from your project?
  • How will you measure success in achieving your intended results?
  • How will you sustain the project and/or its benefit(s)?

Review Criteria:

Narrative—Collections Stewardship

1. Project Justification

  • What do you propose to do?
  • What need, problem, or challenge will your project address?
  • Who or what will benefit from your project?
  • What are the intended results of your project?
  • How will your project advance your institution’s strategic plan?

Review Criteria:

  • Is the project clearly explained?
  • Is the need, problem, or challenge to be addressed clearly identified and supported by relevant evidence?
  • Are the materials (e.g. objects, specimens, collections) that are the focus of the project and their current condition described and quantified in sufficient detail?
  • Are the people who will benefit from the project clearly identified, and have they been involved in planning this project?
  • Are the intended results well formulated and achievable?
  • Are the ways in which this project advances your institution’s strategic plan specific, actionable, and measurable?
  • Does the project align with the MFA Collections Stewardship category?

2. Project Work Plan

  • What specific activities will you carry out?
  • Who will plan, implement, and manage your project?
  • When and in what sequence will your activities occur?
  • What financial, personnel, and other resources will you need to carry out the activities?
  • What resources will your institution contribute to the project?
  • How will you track your progress toward achieving your intended results?
  • How and with whom will you share your project’s results?

Review Criteria:

  • Are the proposed activities, technologies, and/or methodologies informed by appropriate theory and practice?
  • Are the technical details including all information required using the Digital Content Supplementary Information Form provided for projects generating digital products?
  • Do the identified staff, partners, consultants, and service providers possess the experience and skills necessary to complete the work successfully?
  • Is the schedule of work realistic and achievable?
  • Are the time, personnel, and financial resources identified appropriate for the scope and scale of the project?
  • Does the institution provide evidence of its capacity to carry out the project activities and meet the cost-share requirement?
  • Is a clear methodology described for tracking the project’s progress and adjusting course when necessary?
  • Is there an effective plan for communicating results and/or sharing discoveries?

3. Project Results

  • What knowledge, skills, behaviors and/or attitudes do you expect to change and among whom?
  • How will the care, condition, and/or management of the materials (e.g. objects, specimens, collections) that define the focus of your project be improved?
  • What tangible products (e.g. reports, inventories, catalogues, treatment plans, publications, presentations, databases) will result from your project?
  • How will you measure success in achieving your intended results?
  • How will you sustain the project and/or its benefit(s)?

Review Criteria:

  • Are the project’s intended results clearly articulated?
  • Will direct collections care, organizational capacity for collections care, and/or public awareness of the importance of collection care be improved as a result of this project?
  • Will the tangible products be useful?
  • Are the measures of success in achieving results appropriate for the project?
  • Is there a reasonable and practical plan for sustaining the benefits of the project beyond the conclusion of this grant?

Conditionally Required Documents

If your organization is a private, nonprofit institution, you must submit a copy of the IRS letter indicating your eligibility for nonprofit status under the applicable provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended. We will not accept a letter of state sales tax exemption as proof of nonprofit status.

Please consult the table below to determine if any other additional documents are required. If any of the conditions in the left column apply to your project, then the documents described in the right column are required. If you do not provide them, your application will be considered incomplete and will be rejected from further consideration.

If your project involves …

Then you must include …

A federally negotiated indirect cost rate

A current copy of your Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement

A digital product (for example, a database of digital images, new software program)

Digital Content Supplementary Information Form

A Detailed Conservation Survey

A document that identifies your institution’s conservation priorities and describes how they were established*

A Conservation Environmental Survey

A document that identifies your institution’s conservation priorities and describes how they were established*

Environmental Improvements/Rehousing

A document that identifies your institution’s conservation priorities and describes how they were established*

Conservation Treatment

A document that identifies your institution’s conservation priorities and describes how they were established*
Detailed condition reports and/or treatment proposals for each object, specimen, or group to be treated


*A document that identifies your institution’s conservation priorities and describes how they were established might be one or more of the following:

  • A Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) report (funded by IMLS, and administered by Heritage Preservation, Inc.)
  • A Preservation Assistance Grant (PAG) report (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities)
  • A general conservation survey report
  • A current long-range conservation plan approved by the organization’s administration and/or governing body

Please note that we will not accept a collections management policy, a catalog/inventory list of objects, a building facilities report, or a strategic plan as a substitute for this document.

Supporting Documents

You may submit other attachments of your choosing as part of your application package, but do not overload the reviewers with too much information. These attachments should include only information that will supplement the narrative and support the project description provided in the application. They should help reviewers envision your project, but they should not be used to answer narrative questions. You may wish to consider the following:

  • Letters of commitment from partners who will receive grant funds or contribute substantive funds to the completion of project activities
  • Letters of commitment from consultants or other groups that will work closely with you on this project
  • Letters of support from subject-matter experts or community-based organizations who are familiar with your proposed project
  • Needs assessments (e.g. community needs assessment; formal or informal documentation used to justify, evaluate, and plan projects)
  • Reports from planning activities
  • Collections, technology, or other departmental plans for the institution as applicable to the proposed project
  • Sample curriculum or equivalent description of training activities
  • Survey form template that shows the types of data you will collect during your General Conservation, Detailed Conservation, or Environmental Survey
  • Photographs of existing conditions
  • Floor plans
  • Bibliography of references relevant to your proposed project design or evaluation strategy
  • Products or evaluations from previously completed or ongoing projects of a similar nature
  • Vendor quotes
  • Equipment specifications
  • Web links to relevant online materials

What Federal Laws Do I Agree to Comply With When I Submit My Application?

As an applicant for Federal funds, you must certify that you are responsible for complying with certain nondiscrimination, debarment and suspension, drug-free workplace, and lobbying laws. These are outlined below and are set out in more detail, along with other requirements, in the Assurances and Certifications. By signing the application form, which includes the Assurances and Certifications, you certify that you are in compliance with these requirements and that you will maintain records and submit any reports that are necessary to ensure compliance. Your failure to comply with these statutory and regulatory requirements may result in the suspension or termination of your grant and require you to return funds to the government.

(a). Nondiscrimination Statutes: You certify that you do not discriminate:

  • on the grounds of race, color, or national origin (including limited English proficiency), in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. §2000d et seq.);
  • on the grounds of disability, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. §701 et seq., including §794);
  • on the basis of age, in accordance with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975, as amended (42 U.S.C. §6101 et seq.); and
  • on the basis of sex, in any education program or activity, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.).

(b). Debarment and Suspension (2 C.F.R. Part 180 and 2 C.F.R. Part 3185):
You certify that neither you nor your principals: (a) are presently excluded or disqualified; (b) have been convicted within the preceding three years of offenses listed in 2 C.F.R. §180.800 (including but not limited to: fraud, antitrust, embezzlement, or offense indicating lack of business integrity) or have had a civil judgment rendered against you or them for one of such offenses within that time period; (c) are presently indicted for or otherwise criminally or civilly charged by a governmental entity (Federal, State, or local) with commission of any of such offenses; or (d) have had one or more public transactions (Federal, State, or local) terminated within the preceding three years for cause or default. Where you are unable to certify to any of the above, you must attach an explanation to this application. You must also comply with applicable sections of the OMB guidance in 2 C.F.R. Part 180, and include a term or condition in lower-tier transactions requiring lower-tier participants to comply with subpart C of the OMB guidance in 2 C.F.R. Part 180.

(c). Federal Debt Status:
You certify that you are not delinquent in the repayment of any Federal debt. Examples include delinquent payroll or other taxes, audit disallowances, and benefit overpayments.

(d). Drug-Free Workplace:
You must provide a drug-free workplace by complying with the requirements of 2 C.F.R. Part 3186. This includes: making a good faith effort to maintain a drug-free workplace; publishing a drug-free workplace statement; establishing a drug-free awareness program for your employees; taking actions concerning employees who are convicted of violating drug statutes in the workplace; and identifying (either at the time of your application or upon award, or in documents that you keep on file in your offices) all known workplaces under your Federal awards.

(e). Lobbying Activities (31 U.S.C. §1352):
You are subject to various restrictions against lobbying or attempting to influence a Federal employee or a Member of Congress or congressional employees, in connection with legislation, appropriations, or the award or modification of a Federal contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or loan. Certain additional restrictions apply if you are requesting over $100,000 in Federal assistance.

The Assurances and Certifications contain other general requirements that may apply depending on the nature of your grant activity (for example, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966).



6. After You Apply

What is the application review process?

We use a peer review process to evaluate all eligible and complete applications. Reviewers are professionals in the field with relevant knowledge and expertise in the types of project activities identified in the applications. They are instructed to evaluate proposed projects according to the criteria identified in the program guidelines. The Director takes into account the advice provided by the review process and makes final funding decisions consistent with the purposes of the agency's programs.

When will we find out if we have been selected to receive a grant?

No information about the status of an application will be released until the applications have been reviewed and all deliberations are concluded. IMLS expects to notify both funded and unfunded applicants of final decisions by September 2014. Funded projects may not begin earlier than October 1, 2014.