Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Grants – FY13 Guidelines
Application Deadline: June 15, 2012
(Projects must begin January 1, 2013)

Date Posted: April 13, 2012
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.312

IMLS Information

Guideline Contents

  1. Program Information

  2. Eligibility

  3. Registration Requirements

  4. Preparing and Submitting an Application

  5. After You Apply

Questions? See the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums 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
Staff at ULC, ASTC and IMLS are available by phone and via e-mail to discuss general issues relating to Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants. We also invite you to participate in one of two pre-application Web conferences and pre-application office hours to learn more about the program, ask questions, and listen to the questions and comments of other participants. See the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Web page for date/time information.

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: 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 30 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 Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants?

Grants for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums will support planning and design activities for spaces that foster experimentation and creativity for middle- and high-school youth in library- and museum-based, out-of-school-time settings. The labs should be grounded in evidence-based research on youth, and should be designed to support youth learning in such 21st century skills as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

These grants will enable grantees to develop comprehensive plans for programs, space, staffing, and budgeting for their Learning Labs. The awards may also be used to prototype certain lab activities or experiences. In addition, the grants may be used to support emerging learning labs that are already in the process of serving middle- and high-school youth with innovative digital media and learning and need additional funds to enhance their efforts, provided that they are aligned with the grant program criteria.

Each grant is expected to result in a feasible plan for implementing and sustaining the Learning Lab envisioned by the applicant library or museum. All grantees will be expected to participate in a series of in-person and web-based activities throughout the grant period in order to gain expertise and resources, stay informed about new research and promising practice, learn from each other, and provide mutual support for planning, design, and eventual, post-grant, implementation. This will require a strong institutional commitment over the course of the initiative. The goal is to create a community of practice that will help place the nation's libraries and museums at the forefront of 21st century learning for youth.

The primary goals for the Learning Labs grants are to

  • promote museums and libraries as innovation hubs for middle- and high-school youth that facilitate 21st century learning;
  • use current research, design, and programming principles to develop effective spaces for youth that combine digital and traditional media;
  • use traditional and digital media tools for youth learning;
  • build the capacity of library and museum professionals as mentors and creators of effective youth programs and learning environments;
  • increase use of museum and library resources as hubs of effective out-of-school time community networks for learning; and
  • create a network of prototype projects that can provide new models that can be shared and iterated across the museum and library sector. 

In 2010, the Obama Administration launched the "Educate to Innovate" campaign, a nationwide effort to bring American students to the forefront in science and math achievement, making the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a national priority in order to ensure that the workers of tomorrow are learning the skills they need today.  In order to make this campaign a reality, President Obama called for public-private partnerships, in addition to federal leadership. To that end, on September 16, 2010, IMLS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced a national partnership to create a network of up to 30 Learning Labs in libraries and museums. The national partners are working via a cooperative agreement with the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), in collaboration with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to implement this program.

In 2006, the MacArthur Foundation launched its digital media and learning initiative and supported research by such experts as Professors Henry Jenkins and Mizuko Ito regarding the literacies needed by youth to participate in a new media culture, how those literacies are gained, and the ways that youth use digital media. The design and activities in YOUmedia ( are based on research that examines how youth participate and learn using digital media. In a MacArthur Foundation supported study, Mizuko Ito and colleagues identify three distinct types of interest-driven activities that engage youth in both physical and online spaces: "Hanging out" activities are more social and build awareness of new media; "messing around" activities are more immersive, as youths tinker with and share media; and "geeking out" activities represent the deepest level of immersion, during which youth develop higher levels of technical and artistic skills. Often call "HOMAGO," this research forms the foundation for the Learning Labs project, and underpinned the Chicago Public Library’s innovative YOUmedia space for youth (see and the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (see

This body of research is continuing and has informed a set of "connected learning" principles which are anchored in research, robust theories of learning, and the best of traditional standards, but also designed to mine the learning potential of the new social- and digital media domain. Connected learning is interest-powered, peer-supported, and academically oriented, harnessing and integrating the different kinds of learning that students pursue (

What is the deadline for applying for a Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grant?

The FY2013 deadline for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants is June 15, 2012.

What is the period of time in which my library or museum can conduct activities funded by a FY13 Learning Labs grant?

Projects must begin on January 1, 2013. 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 Learning Labs grants may be carried out for up to 18 months.

How much money can my institution apply for?

Learning Labs grant awards are available up to $100,000, subject to the availability of funds and agency discretion.

Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for a Learning Labs grant?

You are not required to provide funds from non-federal sources as cost share in order to receive a Learning Labs grant. However, cost sharing of at least one-third is encouraged. Click here for further information on cost sharing.

What types of activities can be funded with a Learning Labs grant?

  • Planning and design activities
  • Prototyping lab activities or experiences
  • Enhancing existing or emerging labs

How many applications can we submit to this program?

A museum or library may submit one application per cycle to this program. A museum or library may receive one Learning Labs grant.

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 Learning Labs funds?

Examples of allowable costs for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants include the following:

  • salaries, wages, and fringe benefits for project personnel (contract or in-house), whose time is necessary for the proper and efficient execution of the project
  • consultant fees
  • purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, or services
  • travel expenses for key project staff and consultants
  • publication design and printing
  • services (e.g. design, technical support, printing, non-construction labor)
  • staff and volunteer training
  • costs related to strengthening of project partnerships
  • internships/fellowships
  • indirect or overhead costs

You must explain all proposed expenses in the Budget Justification component of your application.

What expenses are not allowable with Learning Labs funds?

Examples of unallowable costs for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants include the following:

  • general museum fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising
  • contributions to endowments
  • general museum or library 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 or library facilities (generally, any activity involving contract labor in the construction trades is not an allowable cost)
  • exhibit fabrication that includes creation of large-scale permanent structures for animals or objects that would involve contract labor of the construction trades
  • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment
  • pre-award costs

(Note: If you have questions about the allowability or unallowability of specific activities, please call us for guidance.)

Are Partnerships Required for Learning Labs?

Partnerships may strengthen a Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums application, if they are appropriate to the project. While partnerships are not required in this program, showing collaborative relationships with one or more related community organization will help to support an application, and may add a critical element for sustainability of a Learning Lab. 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.


2. Eligibility

What are the eligibility criteria for libraries and archives?

To be eligible as a library applicant for a Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums, 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 six types of organizations:
    • a library or a parent organization, such as a school district, a municipality, a state agency, or an academic institution, that is responsible for the administration of a library. Eligible libraries include public libraries, public elementary and secondary school libraries, college and university libraries, research libraries and archives that are not an integral part of an institution of higher education and that make publicly available library services and materials that are suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available1. Private or special libraries that have been deemed eligible to participate in this program by the State in which the library is located;
    • an academic or administrative unit, such as a graduate school of library and information science that is part of an institution of higher education through which it would make application;
    • a library agency that is an official agency of a State or other unit of government and is charged by the law governing it with the extension and development of public library services within its jurisdiction;
    • a library consortium that is a local, statewide, regional, interstate, or international cooperative association of library entities that provides for the systematic and effective coordination of the resources of eligible libraries, as defined above, and information centers that work to improve the services delivered to the clientele of these libraries; or
    • a library association that exists on a permanent basis, serves libraries or library professionals on a national, regional, state, or local level, and engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of libraries and the library profession.

What are the eligibility criteria for museums?

To be eligible for a Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grant, you must:

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

  2. 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

  3. qualify as one of the following:

    • a museum2 that, using a professional staff,3 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.4
    • 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.

IMLS may determine that a non-profit organization affiliated with a museum is eligible to apply for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums 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. Research libraries, under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian, must be either generally recognized as possessing unique scholarly research materials and services that are made available to the public, or able to demonstrate that such is the case when submitting an application to IMLS.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

CCR Registration
Read more about CCR Registration. Registration
Read more about Registration and Tips for Using


4. Preparing and Submitting an Application


For the FY13 Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums grants, will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2012.


Apply for Grants:

Use one of the following identifiers to locate the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums  grants package in
CFDA No: 45.312
Funding Opportunity Number: LLP-FY13

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.

The Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Grant Program is designed to serve as a model program to leverage both federal and private support for the development of Learning Labs in libraries and museums through the country. Accordingly, IMLS and its funding partner may disseminate applications submitted to this program. Some applications may include confidential commercial information. Confidential commercial information is defined as information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm. Upon submission, you should identify, in a supporting document, any information contained in your application that you consider to be confidential commercial information and the page on which it is located. Identifying proprietary information in your application will help facilitate the dissemination process.


We will not accept file formats other than PDF and we will not convert files for you. For assistance in converting documents to PDF, visit Also, please do not send secured PDFs because we cannot process these files.

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

Component Format File name to use
Required Documents
The Application for Federal Assistance/Short Organizational Form (SF-424S) form n/a
Abstract (to be uploaded through (one page, max.) Text document that you create n/a
Program Information Sheet IMLS PDF form Programinfo.pdf
Organizational Profile (one page, max.) PDF document Organizationalprofile.pdf
Narrative (six pages, max.) PDF document Narrative.pdf
Detailed Budget Form (by year, as appropriate) IMLS PDF form Detailedbudgetyear1.pdf
Summary Budget Form IMLS PDF form Summarybudget.pdf
Budget Justification (two pages, max.) PDF document Budgetjustification.pdf
List of Key Project Staff and Consultants 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
Partnership Statement Form(s) (if applicable) IMLS PDF form Partners.pdf
Supporting Documents
Information that supplements the narrative and supports the project description provided in the application. In addition, the identification and corresponding page number of any confidential information in your application package should be submitted as a supporting document (please see paragraph above regarding Learning Lab leveraging and dissemination). PDF document Supportingdoc1.pdf


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

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

  • Who is the lead applicant and what partnerships, if any, will be formed in order to establish the Learning Lab?
  • Who is your leadership team for the Learning Lab?
  • What is the population (focus on middle- and/or high-school youth) served by your institution, and how will the proposed Learning Lab meet the needs of the youth community in your area?
  • What are your institution’s goals for the proposed Learning Lab?
  • What will be accomplished during the planning and design period?

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/library that is applying is part of a parent organization, such as a university, then the university would be the legal applicant, and the museum/library 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

Under "Grants for Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums," select the appropriate funding office:

  • Museum
  • Library

3. Request Information

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

b. Enter the amount of non-federal funding you are providing. Cost sharing of at least one-third is encouraged but not required. Read more about cost share.

4. Museum Profile (Museum applicants only)
Museum applicants must answer all questions (a - g) in this section.Library applicants should skip 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 Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums 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 six single-spaced, numbered pages. We will remove any pages above the six-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

Using available supporting evidence, describe your community and the role of your library or museum in serving its middle- and high-school youth population. Include the following information:

  • The needs that will be addressed by the proposed Learning Lab
  • How the proposed Learning Lab would address these needs including potential benefits to your institution and community

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal clearly describes the community served by the applicant library or museum and identifies specific needs among the community’s youth population.
  • Proposal provides appropriate supporting evidence (e.g., demographic or economic data, local foundation reports, etc.) of community youth’s needs.
  • Proposal explains how these needs would be addressed by the proposed Learning Lab.

2. Project Goals and Impact

Building upon the needs identified in your Statement of Need, describe the learning objectives and long-term community goals that will guide your team’s planning and design process. Include the following information:

  • What aspects of the proposed Learning Lab might be most useful or relevant to other communities considering a museum or library-based digital media lab for youth? 
  • Which desired community outcomes will help shape an ongoing evaluation plan for the proposed Learning Lab, and what types of measurements would help your organization evaluate the success of the Learning Lab?

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal clearly explains the learning objectives of a Learning Lab for middle- and high-school youth, the community, and the library or museum itself.
  • Proposal identifies long-term goals and outcomes that will shape the planning and design of the proposed Lab.
  • Proposal explains the potential benefits of a Learning Lab for the community, and for informing other institutions and communities considering building a lab.
  • Proposal explains how the identified goals and outcomes will help shape an appropriate and effective evaluation plan for the proposed Lab.

Resources for Evaluating a Project’s Impact
Click here for helpful information about project evaluation.

3. Project Design

Describe the proposed planning and design process that your institution will undertake to create the Learning Lab. The description should address each of the following questions:

  • How will the proposed Lab be informed by current, and ongoing, research and practice in the field of youth and digital media learning?
  • How will you identify the facilities or environments (physical and/or virtual) for the proposed lab and the way in which the Lab will be incorporated into existing facilities?
  • How will you incorporate planning for digital media and technology into your process?
  • How will you develop a staffing plan for the Lab, including the use and ongoing professional development of mentors, new staff, and existing staff?
  • How will you work throughout the process with key partners and stakeholders in your community, including youth, to develop your plan?
  • How will you develop a feasible and sustainable plan for implementing the Lab?
  • What documents and agreements will be in place at the end of the planning and design process?
  • How will you evaluate the entire planning process?

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal shows evidence that the project team understands and will continue to base its work on evolving research and practice of youth, digital media, and learning.
  • Proposal describes the facilities or environments for the Learning Labs and explains how the design related to its intended use.
  • Proposal describes the process used to determine how and why digital media will be used in the proposed Lab.
  • Proposal demonstrates an understanding of the importance of mentors by planning for their professional development.
  • Proposal demonstrates collaboration in the planning process by its inclusion of partners, stakeholders, and Lab users.
  • Proposal articulates a plan that is feasible and sustainable.
  • Proposal clearly articulates the intended results of the planning process, including any documents, agreements, or other products.
  • Proposal explains how the project team will determine if the intended results of the planning process have been achieved.

4. Project Resources: Personnel, Time, Budget

Describe how you will manage the planning and design process for the Learning Lab. Supply supporting attachments such as budget documents and staff resumes. Include the following information:

  • The personnel and other resources that are required to complete the project
  • The members of the leadership team and other key staff (including consultants) who will complete project activities, including their qualifications, roles, and commitment to the project, particularly if they have other ongoing duties
  • The budget allocated to accomplish project activities, including cost sharing
  • How information will be shared and decisions will be made among partners

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal provides a clear description of how the applicant will effectively complete the project activities through the deployment and management of resources, including people, money and supplies.
  • Proposal clearly explains the roles, responsibilities, and time commitment of the leadership team and other personnel assigned to the project, as well as their ability, based on expertise and experience, to achieve the project goals
  • Proposal provides a cost-efficient, complete, and accurate budget that uses appropriate resources for the proposed activity
  • Proposal clearly explains how information will be shared and decisions made with any proposed partners

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.

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 partner who will receive grant funds or who will contribute substantive funds to the completion of project activities

An IMLS Partnership Statement form for each partner entity

Please note that if you are choosing the IMLS option of claiming a rate of 15% of indirect costs, you do not need to provide any documentation.

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:

  • Floor plans
  • Equipment specifications
  • 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)
  • Products or evaluations from previously completed or ongoing projects of a similar nature
  • Web links to relevant online materials and resources
  • Please note that the identification and corresponding page number of any confidential information in your application package should be submitted as a supporting document.

 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 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 late fall 2012. Funded projects may not begin earlier than January 1, 2013.