Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums – FY12 Guidelines
Application Deadline: February 1, 2012
(Projects must begin August 1, September 1, or October 1, 2012.)

Date Posted: November 28, 2011
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 Sparks! Ignition Grants for 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
IMLS staff are available by phone and through e-mail to discuss general issues relating to Sparks 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 Sparks Grant 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 15 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 1 hour for the Program Information Sheet, 5 hours each for the Detailed Budget and Summary Budget, 2 hours for the Specifications for Projects that Develop Digital Products form, and 30 minutes per response for the Partnership Statement and other supporting documentation.

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 Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums?

The Sparks Grants are a special funding opportunity within the IMLS National Leadership Grants program. These small grants encourage libraries, museums, and archives to test and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they provide. Sparks Grants support the deployment, testing, and evaluation of promising and groundbreaking new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. You may propose activities or approaches that involve risk, as long as the risk is balanced by significant potential for improvement. Eligible institutions of all sizes and types are encouraged to apply.

Successful proposals will address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to libraries, museums, and/or archives. A proposed project should test and evaluate a specific, innovative response to the identified problem and present a plan to make the findings widely and openly accessible.

To maximize the public benefit from federal investments in these grants, the Sparks Grants will fund only projects with the following characteristics:

Broad Potential Impact - You should identify a specific problem or need that is relevant to many libraries, archives, and/or museums, and propose a testable and measurable solution. Proposals must demonstrate a thorough understanding of current issues and practices in the project’s focus area and discuss its potential impact within libraries, archives, and/or museums. Proposed innovations should be widely adoptable or adaptable.

Significant Innovation—The proposed solution to the identified problem must offer strong potential for non-incremental, significant advancement in the operation of libraries, archives, and/or museums. You must explain how the proposed activity differs from current practices or exploits an unexplored opportunity, and the potential benefit to be gained by this innovation.

The Sparks Grants are designed to foster broad sharing of information about project findings. Successful proposals are expected to include communication plans that exploit multiple media and technologies to share project information with targeted audiences.

Additionally, grant recipients will be required at the end of the project to submit a five- to ten-page white paper that IMLS will disseminate widely. This paper will describe the identified problem or need, explain original project goals, describe the innovation that was tested and how it was evaluated, and report the findings and lessons learned through the activity, including a summary of the tested innovation’s suitability and potential for adoption in other organizations, communities, or fields of practice. The white paper must be in a publicly releasable form and must not contain any personal or proprietary information. A copy of the final white paper will be disseminated widely by IMLS. We reserve, for federal government purposes, a royalty-free, worldwide, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the white paper report and authorize others to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work.

Grant recipients also will be expected to participate in a January 2013 online discussion among all the 2012 Sparks Grant awardees.

What is the deadline for applying for a Sparks Grant?

The FY2012 deadline for Sparks Grants is February 1, 2012.

What is the period of time in which my library, museum, or archive can conduct activities funded by a FY12 Sparks 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 Sparks Grants may be carried out for up to one year.

How much money can my institution apply for?

Sparks Grant awards range from $10,000 to $25,000.

Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for a Sparks Grant?

Because the information gained from Sparks Grant projects is expected to benefit the library, archive, and museum communities beyond any one institution, IMLS does not require a match for these proposals. If an applicant does choose to share the total costs of a project, the cost sharing must come from non-federal funding sources. Click here for further information on cost sharing.

What types of activities can be funded with a Sparks Grant?

Examples of activities that might be funded by this program include, but are not limited to

  • exploring the potential of highly original, experimental collaborations;
  • implementing new workflows or processes with potential for substantial cost savings;
  • testing new metrics or methods to measure the impact of promising tools or services;
  • rapid prototyping and testing of new types of software tools, or creating useful new ways to link separate software applications used in libraries, archives, or museums;
  • offering innovative new types of services or new service options to library, archive, or museum visitors; or
  • enhancing institutions’ abilities to interact with audiences in new ways to promote learning or improve services, such as through the deployment of innovative crowd-sourcing techniques.

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 Sparks Grant funds?

Sparks Grants can be used for activities associated with planning, deploying, and evaluating a specified innovation, as long as the expense is allowable under federal and IMLS regulations and guidelines.

You must explain all proposed expenses in your budget justification.

What expenses are not allowable with Sparks Grant funds?

Sparks Grants may not be used for

  • pre-award costs;
  • general fundraising costs, such as development office expenditures or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
  • construction or renovation of a facility;
  • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment;
  • evaluation of an existing program or service;
  • projects that are only for planning;
  • projects that are only for research (as distinguished from experimentation);
  • projects that are limited to existing and traditional approaches to exhibitions, performances, or other types of public programs;
  • projects that involve mainly digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative method for digitization;
  • activities that will produce only incremental improvements in operational or business processes;
  • support of conferences or professional meetings;
  • acquisition of equipment or supplies in excess of 50 percent of the total funds requested from IMLS; or
  • indirect or overhead costs.

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

Are Partnerships Required for Sparks Grants?

Partnerships may strengthen a Sparks Grant 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

What are the eligibility criteria for libraries and archives?

To be eligible as a library applicant for a Sparks 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 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. 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.  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 digital library, if it makes library materials publicly available and provides library services, including selection, organization, description, reference, and preservation, under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian;
    • 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 as a museum applicant for a Sparks 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
    • 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.

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. Research libraries 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 FY12 Sparks Grants, will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on February 1, 2012.


Apply for Grants:

Use one of the following identifiers to locate the Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums grants package in
CFDA No: 45.312, or
Funding Opportunity Number: SPARKS-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.

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
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
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 is the timeframe for the project?
  • What need(s) or problem(s) will the project address?
  • What is the innovation being tested to address the identified problem or need?
  • How will the innovation’s effectiveness and potential be evaluated?

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 or 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 or 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
Select either the Museum or Library designation, and select Sparks Grants as the grant category.

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. Please note that cost sharing is not required for Sparks Grants. 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 Sparks Grants should skip these sections.

Download Program Information Sheet:

Adobe® PDF (318 KB)

Microsoft® Word Document (118 KB)


Write a narrative that addresses the five 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 five narrative sections as you write. Address the five 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. Assessment of Need

Using available supporting evidence, describe the problem, challenge, or need to be addressed by the proposed activity. Explain the significance of the problem to libraries, archives, or museums. Describe the primary stakeholders, audiences, or groups affected by this problem. Explain how the proposed project relates to other activities, projects, and/or research.

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal provides evidence that the identified problem, need, or challenge is real and is significant for libraries, archives, and/or museums.
  • Proposal demonstrates thorough knowledge of current library, archive, or museum practice related to the identified problem or need.
  • Proposal identifies the primary stakeholders, audiences, or groups affected by the identified problem, challenge, or need.
  • Proposal demonstrates thorough knowledge of other activities, projects, and/or published literature related to the identified problem or need.

2. Project Design

Describe the proposed project as an innovative and appropriate response to the problem, need, or challenge described in the Assessment of Need section. Explain what innovation will be tested and why it was selected as a promising solution. Provide details on the project’s scope, focus, goals, and activities. Include specifics of project implementation, including the testing methodology for the identified innovation. List the key staff and organizations participating in the project and their project roles and responsibilities. Describe how information will be shared and decisions will be made between all organizations and staff involved in the project. Describe a communication plan to share project news with targeted audiences.

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal clearly explains how the project will attempt to address the identified problem or need, and why the proposed activity is an appropriate and innovative response to that need.
  • Project proposes approaches that are efficient, effective, and reasonable to accomplish its clear goals and objectives.
  • The proposal adequately explains the roles and responsibilities of all organizations and staff participating in the project.
  • The proposal explains a well-rounded communication plan that will reach targeted audiences effectively.

3. Innovation and Impact

Innovation: Explain how the proposed activity differs from current practice.

Impact: Describe the potential benefits to be gained by applying the proposed solution. Discuss the innovation’s potential for or adoption or adaptation in other organizations.

Review Criteria:

  • Originality of the proposed activity
  • Potential for significant change in the field that could result from the project
  • For projects that involve building digital content, software, or other technology products, in addition to the above criteria, evidence that the project’s products support interoperability and accessibility in its broadest context, and potential for wider adoption in other libraries, archives, or museums

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

4. Evaluation Plan

How will the success of the project be determined? Describe the indicators that will be used to determine the project’s outcomes – what will be measured and how will measurements be analyzed? Note that these indicators are expected to be discussed in the final project
white paper.

Review Criteria:

  • Proposal clearly explains a testing and evaluation methodology including details of what will be measured, and how measurements will be analyzed to evaluate the potential of the innovation for broader adoption.
  • The project evaluation will provide reliable information on which to judge the relative success of the project.

5. Project Resources: Personnel, Time, Budget

Describe institutional responsibilities for the project’s implementation and management. Explain what facilities, equipment, personnel, and other resources are required to complete the project. List key staff that will complete project activities and discuss their qualifications and commitment to the project activities, particularly if they have other ongoing duties. Discuss the budget allocated to accomplish project activities, including cost sharing if it is shown in the budget. If the project includes a partnership, discuss contributions to and benefits from the project for both the applicant and partner organizations, and explain how information will be shared and decisions will be made. Provide a timeline of major activities.

Museum Applicants: 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:

  • Proposal clearly describes how the applicant will effectively complete the project activities through the deployment and management of resources including money, facilities, equipment, and supplies.
  • Proposal includes a cost-efficient, complete, and accurate budget that uses appropriate resources for the proposed activity.
  • Proposal includes evidence that project personnel demonstrate appropriate experience and expertise and will commit adequate time to accomplish project goals and 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.

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:

  • Needs assessments
  • Reports from planning activities
  • Web links to relevant online materials
  • Letters of support from experts and/or stakeholders

 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.