21st Century Museum Professionals Grants – FY12 Guidelines
Application Deadline: March 15, 2012
(Projects must begin October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2012.)
Date Posted: January 6, 2012
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.307
Questions? See the 21st Century Museum Professionals program Web page for IMLS contact info.
Teletype (TTY/TDD) (for persons with hearing difficulty): 202/653-4614
Upon request, IMLS will provide an audio recording of this or any other publication.
Web Conferencing with Program Staff
IMLS staff are available by phone and through e-mail to discuss general issues relating to 21st Century Museum Professionals grants. We also invite you to participate in one of two pre-application Web conferences to learn more about the program, ask questions, and listen to the questions and comments of other participants. See the 21st Century Museum Professionals program Web page for date/time information.
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: August 31, 2013.
Forms: OMB No. 3137-0071; Expiration Date: August 31, 2013.
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 9 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 Program information Sheet, 3 hours per response for the Detailed Budget and Summary Budget, and 10 minutes per response for the Partnership Statement.
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. Program Information
What are 21st Century Museum Professionals grants?
The purpose of the 21st Century Museum Professionals (21MP) program is to increase the capacity of museums to connect people to information and ideas by improving the knowledge and skills of museum staff in multiple institutions.
Museums play a critical role in the education of the public in the United States by preserving the world’s rich cultural heritage and helping to transmit it from one generation to the next. Museum professionals need high levels of knowledge and expertise as they help to create public value for the communities they serve. IMLS supports this purpose by providing grants that help museum professionals acquire, improve, and maintain their knowledge and skills.
21st Century Museum Professionals grants are intended to reach broad groups of museum professionals throughout a city, county, state, region, or the nation and increase their capacity to serve their audiences. These projects should reach multiple institutions and diverse audiences. "Museum professionals" include both paid and unpaid museum staff and both practicing and future professionals. Applications from eligible museums or other organizations should demonstrate how the proposed project will benefit multiple institutions and diverse audiences.
Successful proposals will reflect an understanding of museum service needs in the communities to be served by the project and will explain why the proposed activity will be effective in meeting those needs.
What is the deadline for applying for a 21st Century Museum Professionals grant?
The FY2012 deadline for 21st Century Museum Professionals grants is March 15, 2012.
What is the period of time in which my organization can conduct activities funded by a 21MP grant?
Projects awarded in FY12 must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2012. 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 21MP grants may be carried out for up to three years.
How much money can my institution apply for?
21MP grant awards range from $15,000 to $250,000
Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for a 21MP grant?
In order to receive a 21MP grant, you must provide funds 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.
What types of activities can be funded with a 21MP grant?
Funding will support projects in the full range of museum operations, involving core management skills such as planning, leadership, finance, program design, partnership, and evaluation. Project focus areas may also include but are not limited to collections care and management, interpretation, communications and audience development, visitor services, governance, and other areas of museum operations. Proposals may also focus on projects that help museums attract and retain staff and improve the capacity of museums to address the rapid changes facing many communities. Allowable activities include but are not limited to:
- development and implementation of classes, seminars, or workshops that deliver information on how to improve staff practices in the operation of museums
- resources and activities to support the development of museum leaders
- organizational support for the development of internship and fellowship programs
- support for the enhancement of pre-professional training programs
- collection, assessment, or development of information that leads to better museum operations
- dissemination of information to museum professionals through publications, Web sites, or other means
- activities that increase and strengthen the use of contemporary technology tools to deliver programs and services
How many applications can we submit to this program?
A museum may apply for and receive one 21MP grant in a fiscal year.
Acknowledgement and Copyright/Work Products
Read more about Acknowledgement and Copyright/Work Products
What requirements govern the use of IMLS funds?
You may only use IMLS funds for allowable costs as found in IMLS and government-wide cost principle rules, including OMB Circulars and regulations.
What expenses are allowable with 21MP funds?
Examples of allowable expenses for 21st Century Museum Professionals grants include:
- training and education
- technical assistance or consultation with museum and/or business professionals
- program development and implementation
- internship stipends and support activities
- purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, or services
- integration of technology into training activities or programs
- costs associated with evaluation of grant activities
- evaluation to show the extent to which the project has met its goals
- indirect or overhead costs
You must justify all proposed expenses in your application budget.
What expenses are not allowable with 21MP funds?
Examples of unallowable expenses for 21st Century Museum Professionals grants include:
- social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment
- general fundraising costs, such as development office expenditures or other staff time devoted to general fundraising
- general advertising or public relations costs designed solely for promotional activities other than those related to the specific project
- contributions to endowments
- acquisition of collections
- construction or renovation costs of facilities
- exhibit fabrication that includes creation of large-scale permanent structures for animals or objects that would involve contract labor of the construction trades
- collection conservation activities, including installation of collections, HVAC systems, creation of collections storage facilities, object treatment, collections surveys, or historic structure renovation
- pre-award costs
(Note: Applicants with questions about the allowability or unallowability of specific activities should call IMLS staff for guidance.)
Are Partnerships Required for 21MP?
Partnerships may strengthen a 21st Century Museum Professionals application, if they are appropriate to the project, but they are not required. An application may include one or more partners. The lead applicant in a partnership must be eligible to apply as an individual entity, and all members of a partnership should be active contributors to project activities. Read more about partnerships.
To be eligible for a 21st Century Museum Professionals grant, you must:
be either a unit of State or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code;
be located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and
qualify as one of the following:
- a museum1 that, using a professional staff,2 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.3
- an organization or association that engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of museums and the museum profession;
- an institution of higher education, including public and nonprofit universities; or
- a public or private nonprofit agency which is responsible for the operation of a museum may apply on behalf of the museum.
Please note that a museum located within a parent organization that is a State or local government or multipurpose not-for-profit entity, such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center, may apply on its own behalf if the museum: (1) is able to independently fulfill all the eligibility requirements listed above; (2) functions as a discrete unit within the parent organization; (3) has its own fully segregated and itemized operating budget; and (4) 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. A parent organization that controls multiple museums that are not autonomous but which are otherwise eligible may submit only one application per grant program; this single application may be submitted by the parent organization on behalf of one or more of the eligible museums.
IMLS may determine that a non-profit 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.
1. Museums include, but are not limited to, aquariums, arboretums, art museums, botanical gardens, children/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.
2. An institution uses a professional staff if it employs at least one professional 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.
3. 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 that exhibits objects by appointment may meet the requirement to exhibit objects to the general public on a regular basis if it can establish, in light of the facts under all the relevant circumstances, that this method of exhibition does not unreasonably restrict the accessibility of the institution’s exhibits to the general public.
An institution that does not have as a primary purpose the exhibition of objects to the general public but that can demonstrate that it exhibits objects to the general public on a regular basis as a significant, separate, distinct, and continuing portion of its activities, and that it otherwise meets the museum eligibility requirements, may be determined to be eligible as a museum under these guidelines. For more information, please see 45 C.F.R. Chapter XI, Subchapter E (Institute of Museum and Library Services).
3. Registration Requirements
Getting a D-U-N-S® Number
Read more about Getting a D-U-N-S® Number.
Read more about CCR Registration.
Read more about Grants.gov Registration and Tips for Using Grants.gov.
4. Preparing and Submitting an Application
PLEASE REVIEW THESE GUIDELINES AND THE GRANTS.GOV REQUIREMENTS CAREFULLY. WE MAKE GRANTS ONLY TO ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS THAT SUBMIT COMPLETE APPLICATIONS, INCLUDING ATTACHMENTS, ON OR BEFORE THE DEADLINE.
For the FY12 21st Century Museum Professionals grants, Grants.gov will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 15, 2012.
We strongly recommend that you REGISTER EARLY and COMPLETE AND SUBMIT THE APPLICATION EARLY.
Apply for Grants: www.grants.gov/applicants/apply_for_grants.jsp
Use one of the following identifiers to locate the 21st Century Museum Professionals grants package in Grants.gov:
CFDA No: 45.307
Funding Opportunity Number: 21MP-FY12
What documents are required and how should they be completed, formatted, named, and sequenced?
Please see the Table of Application Components below. Links to more information and instructions for completing forms are provided in the table. Applications missing any Required Documents or applicable Conditionally Required Documents from this list will be considered incomplete and will be rejected from further consideration.
You should also use this table to determine the format of each document, the name it must be given, and the sequence in which the documents should be attached.
Please note that, aside from the first two documents listed, all documents must be submitted as PDF documents, regardless of how they were created. Documents listed as IMLS forms are available in both Microsoft® Word document and fill-in PDF formats, and are located on the IMLS Web site. If you do not have Adobe® Pro, we suggest using the Word document to complete the forms. Remember, the Word version must later be converted to and submitted as a PDF.
Be sure to note the maximum page limits for certain components. We will remove any pages above the limit, and we will not send them to reviewers as part of your application.
Append all the documents to the attachments form in the sequence used in the Table of Application Components. Use all the available spaces in the "Mandatory Documents for Submission" box first. If there are more attachments than will fit there, use the "Optional Documents for Submission" box for the remaining ones, following the same naming convention and submitting them one at a time.
You may use this table as a checklist to ensure that you have created and attached all the documents that may be necessary for a complete application. We suggest assembling and uploading your documents in this sequence to assist you in confirming the inclusion of all required materials.
Table of Application Components
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 formal partners?
- Who is the intended audience for the activities?
- What is the time frame for the project?
- What will be the specific project activities, outcomes or tangible projects?
- What are the intended outcomes for audience members in terms of measurable changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, or behaviors?
This abstract may be used for public information purposes, so it should be informative to other persons working in the same or related fields, as well as to the lay reader. The abstract must not include any proprietary or confidential information.
Program Information Sheet
1. Applicant Information
a. Legal Name: Enter the legal name of the applicant.
b. and c. Organizational Unit and Address:
If the eligible entity cannot apply for grants on its own behalf, then enter the name and address of the entity in these spaces. For example, if a museum that is applying is part of a parent organization, such as a university, then the university would be the legal applicant, and the museum would be entered as the organizational unit. Be sure to include the four-digit extension on the ZIP code.
d. Web Address: If an organizational unit is listed, enter its Web address here. If not, enter the Web site of the entity listed under Legal Name in Section 1a above.
e. Type of Institution: Select the one that most accurately describes your organization.
2. Grant Program or Grant Program Category
Select a. 21st Century Museum Professionals.
3. Request Information
a. IMLS Funds Requested: Enter the amount in dollars sought from IMLS.
b. 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. Read more about cost share.
4. Museum Profile (Museum applicants only)
Museum applicants must answer all questions (a - g) in this section.
If you indicate a budget surplus or deficit for one or both of the two previous fiscal years on the Program Information Sheet, you should provide an explanation in the application narrative, Section 4: Project Resources. This explanation is intended to assist reviewers in evaluating the financial capacity of your institution to complete the project activities.
5. Project Partners
In the space provided, list all organizations that are partners for the project. Note: Each partner listed in this section is required to complete and submit a Partnership Statement form to the lead applicant for submission with the application.
Applicants for 21MP grants should skip these sections.
Download Program Information Sheet:
Adobe® PDF (318 KB)
Microsoft® Word Document (118 KB)
Write a narrative that addresses the four components listed and explained below. Limit the narrative to seven single-spaced, numbered pages. We will remove any pages above the seven page limit, and we will not send them to reviewers 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. Use Supporting Documents to provide supplementary material.
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 application. 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 application review criteria in mind when writing your narrative. Be certain to address the bullet points under each of the four narrative sections as you write. Address the four sections of the narrative separately and in the same order in which they are listed below.
Please be advised that reviewers may also choose to visit your organization’s Web site, as listed on the SF-424S form provided with this application.
1. Statement of Need
Provide a justification for the proposed project. Include information such as the following:
- the intended audience for the project
- the methodology for identifying the needs of the target audience
- how the project design will benefit this audience of museum professionals
- how it will improve the abilities of museum professionals to deliver services to their communities
- evidence that the applicant has identified an audience of museum professionals, performed a formal or informal assessment of its needs, and designed this project as the best solution to address those needs
- evidence that the project addresses issues that concern the museum field and will positively impact museum professionals
Describe the benefits of this project and how it will have a lasting impact on the targeted audience of museum professionals. Address issues such as the following:
- specific outcomes that will result from the project
- benefits from the project for professional development in multiple institutions
- specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that will impact practicing or future museum professionals and their institutions
- efforts to support the continuation of project activities and/or benefits beyond the grant period, if appropriate
- the means by which project activities and results will be shared with various audiences
- evidence that specific outcomes will be used to evaluate the impact and success of the project
- evidence that the project will result in increased staff capacities, leading to improved practice
- extent to which the project is likely to contribute to results or products that will benefit multiple institutions and diverse constituencies
3. Project Design
Describe the proposed project’s design. Include information such as the following:
- the project goals and objectives
- action steps and activities to implement the project
- specific skills, knowledge, and experiences that will build staff or institutional capacities
- project management
- how the project will be promoted to the targeted museum professionals
- the design, integration, and implementation of an assessment method that will measure project results, findings, or products
- the role and commitment of the partnering organization (for proposals that involve partnerships)
- extent to which the project proposes efficient, effective, and successful approaches to accomplish clear goals and objectives
- evidence that the methodology and design are appropriate to the scope of the project
- extent to which the project will meet 21MP goals
- evidence that the project activities will successfully reach the targeted museum professionals
- evidence that assessment will provide reliable information on which to judge impact or base actions
4. Project Resources: Personnel, Time, Budget
Describe the resources, including those funded by the grant and those funded by the organization’s cost share, required to implement and complete the project. Include information such as the following
- the timeline for specific activities to implement the project and its justification
- the key staff and their qualifications, along with an explanation of how they will be able to devote time to the project while maintaining their other, ongoing responsibilities
- information about consultants involved in project activities and the associated selection process
- information about the integration of necessary facilities, equipment, and supplies to support the project
- qualifications of personnel assigned to manage project finances
- source(s) of matching funds and/or in-kind contributions
- source and use of revenues to be derived from the project, if applicable
- (for proposals that involve partnerships) contributions to and benefits from the project for both the applicant and the partner organization(s)
If a budget surplus or deficit for one or both of the two previous fiscal years is shown on the Program Information Sheet, provide an explanation as part of this section of the narrative.
- evidence that you will complete the project activities in the time allocated through the effective deployment and management of resources, including personnel, money, facilities, equipment, and supplies
- evidence of sound financial management coupled with an appropriate and cost-efficient budget
- evidence that the applicant has the ability to meet the cost share requirement
- evidence that the project personnel demonstrate appropriate experience and expertise and will commit adequate time to accomplish project activities
For this section of the application, reviewers will consider information provided in the Narrative, Budget Forms, Budget Justification, and Resumes.
Conditionally Required Documents
Proof of Nonprofit Status
If your organization is a private, nonprofit organization, you must submit a copy of the IRS letter indicating your eligibility for nonprofit status under the applicable provisions 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 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.
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 consultants, partners, or other groups that will work closely with the applicant on this project
- Letters of support from subject-matter experts who are familiar with your proposed project
- Needs assessments (i.e. formal or informal documentation used to justify, evaluate, and plan projects)
- Reports from planning activities
- Products or evaluations from previously completed or ongoing projects of a similar nature
- Web links to relevant online materials
- A one-page summary that addresses the theme, content, size, format, etc. of a significant public educational or outreach component of your project
Note: When attaching these documents, give each one a specific title for clear identification. All Supporting Documents must include dates of creation and authorship.
Assurances and Certifications
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.
1. 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.)
2. 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 again 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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).
5. After You Apply
What is the application review process?
We use a two-tiered peer review process that includes individual field review and/or panel review to evaluate all eligible and complete applications. Reviewers and panelists 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.
How can I serve as a reviewer?
All competitive awards are reviewed by museum professionals who know the needs of communities, can share best practices, and are well versed in the issues and concerns of museums today.
If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, you may submit your information through our online reviewer application at www.imls.gov/reviewers/become.aspx. Please remember to attach your resume. Your information will be considered, and if accepted, your name will be entered into our reviewer database. You will be contacted prior to the next deadline regarding your availability to serve as a reviewer.
There are many benefits to reviewing applications, including enhancing your professional knowledge and serving the museum and library communities. If you are selected to serve, you will be helping IMLS and strengthening our grant review process.
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 2012. Funded projects may not begin earlier than October 1, 2012.