January 5, 2022
To better meet the needs of the Native communities we serve, IMLS recently updated the requirements for the Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants. The updates take effect in fiscal year (FY) 2022 and include modifications to the eligibility criteria and a new application due date, April 1, 2022.
The Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants program is designed to assist Native American tribes in improving core library services for their communities. Reflecting IMLS’s agency-level goals of championing lifelong learning, strengthening community engagement, and advancing collections stewardship and access, the goals for this program are to:
- Improve digital services to support needs for education, workforce development, economic and business development, health information, critical thinking skills, and digital literacy skills.
- Improve educational programs related to specific topics and content areas of interest to library patrons and community-based users.
- Enhance the preservation and revitalization of Native American cultures and languages.
Federally recognized tribes, including Alaska Native villages or corporations, may apply for Enhancement grants of up to $150,000. Applicants must also have an existing library with regularly scheduled hours, staff, and materials available for library users.
Historically, IMLS required all Enhancement applicants to first submit an application to the Native American Library Services: Basic Grants program in the same year as their Enhancement application. Basic grants are year-long awards of up to $10,000, while Enhancement grants fund larger projects of up to two years. To reduce unnecessary administrative burden, this requirement has been removed from the FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Applicants may now choose the grant program(s) best suited to their needs.
The updated NOFO also incorporates several resources to facilitate the application process. For the new Performance Measurement Plan requirement, an optional fillable chart is included, with detailed descriptions and examples of how to meet each performance measure. Further, the IMLS Library – Discretionary Program Information Form has now been integrated into Grants.gov, allowing for a more centralized application experience within the Workspace.
Applicants should also note the January notice of funding release date, which is earlier than last year. The anticipated notification date and beginning date of period of performance remain the same as in past years. Notifications are anticipated in August 2022, with projects beginning on September 1, 2022. The updated due date will allow IMLS staff additional time to counsel applicants, process application packages, and solicit peer reviews.
The change in eligibility reflects the recommendations and feedback that IMLS received in ongoing conversations with the Native communities. On April 19, 2021 and October 6, 2021, IMLS hosted two Nation-to-Nation Listening Sessions in response to President Biden’s Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships. These sessions reflect IMLS’s effort to include community voices in the development of policies and practices across our programs. The updates to the Enhancement program NOFO are a first step in addressing some of the concerns raised in ongoing conversations, including the need to reduce administrative burden and make the application process easier to navigate.