Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

Museums for America – FY12 Guidelines
Application Deadline: November 1, 2011
(Projects must begin August 1, September 1, or October 1, 2012)

Date Posted: August 25, 2011
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.301

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 Museums for America 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 Museums for America 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 Museums for America program 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.

Burden Estimates and Request for Public Comments
Public reporting burden for the collection of information per the guidelines’ instructions is estimated to average 40 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Public reporting burden is estimated to average 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, Chief Information Officer, 1800 M Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802; and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3137-0071), Washington, DC 20503.


1. Program Information

What are Museums for America grants?

Museums for America (MFA) is the largest grant program for museums at IMLS.  The goal of MFA is to strengthen the ability of a museum to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals. Applicants can apply for projects in one of the following three categories:

  • Engaging Communities (Education, Exhibitions, and Interpretation)
  • Building Institutional Capacity (Management, Policy, and Training)
  • Collections Stewardship (Management of Collections)

Fiscal year (FY) 2012 MFA funding will support projects and activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and as important institutions in the establishment of livable communities. MFA grants can fund either new or ongoing museum activities and programs, such as improvement of institutional infrastructure; planning; management of collections; public access; professional development; purchase of equipment or services; research and scholarship; school and public programming; exhibitions; training; or efforts of museums to upgrade and integrate new technologies into their overall institutional effectiveness.


What is the deadline for applying for a MFA grant?
The FY2012 deadline for MFA grants is November 1, 2011.

Project Start and End Dates

What is the period of time in which my museum can conduct activities funded by a FY12 MFA grant?
Projects must begin on August 1, September 1, or October 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 MFA grants may be carried out for up to three years.

Award Amounts

How much money can we apply for?
MFA grant awards range from $5,000 to $150,000

Cost Share

Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for a MFA grant?
In order to receive a MFA 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.

Number of applications

How many applications can we submit to this program?
A museum may apply for and receive only one MFA grant in a fiscal year.

Categories of Funding

What types of activities can be funded with a MFA grant?

Eligible institutions may apply for projects in the following categories:

  • Engaging Communities (Education, Exhibitions, and Interpretation)
  • Building Institutional Capacity (Management, Policy, and Training)
  • Collections Stewardship (Management of Collections)

Conservation Project Support (CPS), another IMLS grant program, supports collections care activities such as environmental improvements and collections treatment.  Thus, requests to support some collections care activities would be more appropriate for the CPS program than for MFA.  Please refer to for a list of collections care activities with corresponding program eligibility. (For final layout, this paragraph should be placed in a box to keep with CPS formatting)

What activities may be funded by the Engaging Communities category?
This category encompasses the broadest range possible of educational activities by which museums share collections, content, and knowledge to support learning. Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Classes and presentations
  • Creation of digital content for programmatic purposes
  • Curricula development
  • Exhibition design/fabrication
  • Exhibition development/implementation
  • Integration of technology
  • Interpretive strategies
  • Programming and education for
    - Adults
    - Families
    - Underserved communities
    - Youth (pre-K through grade 12)
  • Public programs
  • Publications
  • Research for program/exhibit development
  • Teacher training
  • Web site content and design

What activities may be funded by the Building Institutional Capacity category?
This category supports projects and activities that serve to improve the infrastructure of museums to better serve their communities. Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Financial management
  • Personnel administration
  • Planning (institutional, maintenance, emergency/disaster)
  • Policy development
  • Staff training and development
  • Technology enhancements

What activities may be funded by the Collections Stewardship category?
This category supports all activities that museums undertake to maintain and improve the management of museum collections in order to fulfill the museum’s public service mission. Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Collections planning
  • Collections security and safety
  • Database development/enhancements
  • Digitization of collections
  • Mapping for living plant collections (not to include surveys)
  • Registration/cataloguing
  • Research/documentation
  • Risk assessment

Acknowledgement and Copyright/Work Products

Read more about Acknowledgement and Copyright/Work Products

Use of Funds

IMLS and government-wide uniform administrative requirements and cost principles rules and requirements, including appropriate OMB circulars, apply to determinations of allowable uses of funds for all IMLS grants.

Allowable and Unallowable Expenses

Examples of allowable expenses for Museums for America grants include:

  • project personnel, contract, or in-house staff time necessary for the proper and efficient execution of the project;
  • project consultants and their travel
  • costs related to post-award  planning and maintenance of project partnerships
  • purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, or services
  • staff training
  • program development and implementation
  • exhibition design and fabrication
  • integration of technology into exhibition or educational programs
  • costs associated with evaluation of grant programs or activities
  • research
  • planning and policy development
  • publications
  • activities aimed at achieving intellectual control over the collection, including: inventory, daily maintenance, registration, planning, and cataloguing
  • evaluation to show the extent to which the project has met its goals; and
  • indirect or overhead costs (read more about Indirect Costs).

You must justify all proposed expenses in your application budget.

Examples of unallowable expenses for Museums for America grants include:

  • collection conservation activities including the purchase of storage equipment (shelving, cabinets), installation of HVAC systems, treatment of objects/specimens, or collections surveys (Note: For these activities, please review the IMLS Conservation Project Support Guidelines regarding possible eligibility);
  • general museum fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
  • general museum operating support;
  • 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 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;
  • acquisition of collections;
  • contributions to endowments;
  • reconstruction or renovation of historic sites and landscapes;
  • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment, and
  • pre-award costs

 (Note: Applicants with questions about the allowability or unallowability of specific activities should call IMLS staff for guidance.)


What are the guidelines for partnerships with other entities?
Partnerships may strengthen a 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 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

To be eligible for a MFA 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:
  1. 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

  2. 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 DUNS Number
Read more about Getting a DUNS 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 FY12 Museums for America grants, will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 1, 2011.


Apply for Grants:

Use one of the following identifiers to locate the Museums for America package in
CFDA No: 45.301
Funding Opportunity Number: MFA-FY12

Required Documents

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.

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
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
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 (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
Partnership Statement Form(s) (if applicable) IMLS PDF form Partners.pdf
Specifications for Projects that Develop Digital Products Form (if applicable) IMLS PDF form Specificationsdigital.pdf
Supporting Documents
Information that supplements the narrative and supports the project description provided in the application 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, if applicable, who are the formal partners?
  • What do you plan to accomplish and why?
  • What is the time frame for the project?
  • Who is the intended audience for the activities?
  • What will be the specific project activities, outcomes, results, and/or tangible products?
  • What are the intended outcomes for audience members in terms of measurable changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, or behavior?

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 h and the appropriate project type designation.

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 MFA grants should skip these sections.

Download Program Information Sheet:

Adobe® PDF (318 KB)

Microsoft® Word Document (118 KB)


Strategic Plan Summary

The strategic plan summary, sometimes called an institutional, long-range, or master plan summary, is used by reviewers to evaluate how the grant project or activities further institutional goals. The summary submitted must not exceed two pages in length. The summary should:

  • Describe a current and comprehensive plan covering all relevant areas of operation. Partial plans, such as education or interpretive plans, are only one element of a strategic plan.
  • Explain the key components of the current plan; methods used to develop the plan, such as institutional self-study or assessment; how the plan is evaluated and updated; and the roles of trustees, staff, consultants, members of the community, or others in developing the plan. Please do not submit a copy of your institution’s entire strategic plan.
  • Discuss the institution’s success in meeting the plan’s goals.
  • Make sure to indicate where the museum is in the planning process at the time of application. If the museum is in the midst of a strategic planning process, please indicate how this project relates to the plan that preceded it.

Your application will not be accepted if you do not have an approved strategic plan. 



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 justification for the proposed project as it relates to your museum and its strategic goals. Include information such as the following:

  • How the project fulfills MFA’s goal to strengthen the ability of the museum to serve its public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals
  • How the project relates to the museum’s mission statement and how will it further the organization’s strategic goals
  • How the project will serve as an investment in institutional capacity
  • The intended audience that will benefit from the project and how this audience will be served; include area demographics and/or audience characteristics, and how this intended audience fits within the institutional strategic plan

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the project or activities fit into and further the institution’s strategic plan and mission and evidence that the museum’s strategic (institutional, long-range, master) plan had community, board, and staff involvement and supports the goals and needs of both the museum and its community
  • Extent to which the project is of sufficient scope to enhance or expand institutional capacity in order to carry out the above strategic goals
  • Degree to which the project addresses MFA’s program goal
  • Evidence the project team has identified an audience, performed a formal or informal assessment of their needs, and designed this project as the best solution to answer those needs

2. Impact

Describe the benefits of this project for the museum and its audience. Include information such as the following:

  • Information about any intended formal products (written reports, plans, publications, etc.) that will result from this project
  • What are the intended measurable results (outcomes and outputs) and the process that will be used to evaluate and report on those results
  • How this project or its results will be sustained over time
  • The long-term impact of this project on the museum and its community after IMLS funding ends
  • The means by which project activities and results will be shared with various audiences (This could include additions to the museum’s Web site, tours of new storage facilities, and professional publications and presentations to the field.) Many strategies that apply to publicizing an award may be used to disseminate project news as well. See

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the museum’s audience(s) will be better served by the successful completion of this project
  • Evidence of the beneficial impact the project activities will have on the institution, its staff, and its audience(s)

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

3. Project Design

Describe the proposed project’s design. Include information such as the following:

  • Project activities and overall goals
  • The project management and process for corrections and adjustments throughout the project
  • Information on partners involved in the project activities (if applicable), including institutional information and their role in the project
  • Evaluation methodology and its incorporation into the project design
  • Methods to reach the intended audience(s)
  • Scholarly and/or community involvement in content, planning, and execution
  • Specific exhibitions or collections impacted by the project (if applicable)

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence the project proposes efficient, effective, and reasonable approaches to accomplish clear goals and objectives
  • If partnerships are supported by the grant, evidence that all partners are active contributors to the partnership activities, and that the partnership strengthens the project design and outcomes
  • Extent to which the project allows for mid-course correction of project activities.
  • Evidence this project will be promoted to the intended audience
  • If the project involves collections, the quantity and type of materials involved should be described
  • If the project includes digitization, evidence that appropriate procedures will be followed
  • If the project includes an exhibition, evidence that the content, objects, and other applicable elements and resources have been identified

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:

  • Identification of key project staff, their duties, and their qualifications for successfully completing their project tasks
  • The amount of time that key project staff will devote to the project and how they will balance project responsibilities with other ongoing duties
  • Identification of consultants and service providers involved in project activities, the process for selecting them, and how they will work with project staff
  • Qualifications of personnel assigned to manage project finances
  • A timeline for specific activities, showing how the results of one stage of the project will inform/impact the next stage
  • The facilities, equipment, and supplies necessary to support the project
  • Budget allocation to accomplish project activities, including both the applicant’s contributions and how the applicant will meet the required 1:1 cost share
  • Source(s) of matching funds and/or in-kind contributions
  • Source(s) and use of revenues that will be derived from the project, if applicable
  • Contributions to and benefits from the project for both the applicant and partner organization(s), if applicable

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.

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the applicant will complete the project activities in the time allocated through the effective deployment and management of resources, including money, personnel, 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 goals and activities
  • If technology purchase is requested, extent to which it will support the project or activity goals and further the institution’s strategic plan

For this section of the application, reviewers will consider information provided in the Narrative, Budget Forms, Budget Justification, and Resumes.


Conditionally Required Documents for Museums for America Grant Applications

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

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

Specifications for Projects that Develop Digital Products Form

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 consultants, partners or other groups that will work closely with the applicant on this project
  • Bibliography of references relevant to your proposed project design or evaluation strategy
  • Vendor quotes
  • Equipment specifications
  • 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
  • Collections, technology, or other departmental plans for the institution as applicable to the proposed project
  • Web links to relevant online materials

 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 July 2012. Funded projects may not begin earlier than August 1, 2012.