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Applications open for Community Collections grant program!

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This post initially appeared on another Library of Congress blog, Of the People: Widening the Path. Be sure to subscribe to that blog for updates and information about the Of the People initiative at the Library, which has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Four young boys pose at an outdoor festival
Puerto Rican Festival, North Common, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1987. Photograph by Tom Rankin. Lowell Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1987/042: LFP-DD-C006 ).

The Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Community Collections grant program. These grants will support individuals or non-profit organizations in producing cultural documentation–photographs, interviews, audio or video recordings about their community from the community’s perspective. Materials gathered through this program will become part of the Library’s permanent collection, while locally-held copies can enhance (or seed) community archives. This exciting program is part of the larger Of the People initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation that creates dynamic opportunities for more people to engage with the Library. All activity under the initiative will expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that our historical record reflects a diversity of experiences, thus weaving a more inclusive American story.

Formal Notices of Funding Opportunity can be found on for individuals and for organizations. The due date for applications is September 7, 2021. Grants will be up to $50,000 ($60,000 if applicants intend to host a public program in their community), and will support projects of up to 12-months in length.

Support for applicants can be found here (individuals and organizations, and will be updated as more resources become available. Additionally, the Center will be holding informational webinars about the funding opportunity. The first one will be on August 11, 2021 at 4pm Eastern Time–register for the Zoom event here!

Since shortly after its inception in 1976 through the American Folklife Preservation Act (Public Law 94-201), the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has maintained a significant ethnographic archive. Now numbering about 6.5 million items and comprising just over 3400 distinct collections, the AFC archive contains documentation of diverse cultural communities and traditions spanning the late 1800s on through today. Beyond caring for these collections, the AFC has also actively built the collections by conducting large scale folklife survey projects between 1977 and 1998 around the country, training people in cultural documentation methods, and offering financial support through the Archie Green Fellowship program to build the Occupational Folklife Project. The Community Collections grant program builds on—and expands–such efforts.

Digital flyer for grant program

Comments (2)

  1. For people who don’t need the money but are active in their community and have photos and/or videos which might be of interest to the library is there a method of submitting those resources? It might be a good idea to create a form which collects relevant documentation for the images, including identification of the community, date, participants and event portrayed, while accepting an upload of the image/video file.

    • Thanks for reading, and for the suggestion! Across the Library, collecting units regularly field queries about collection donations and take into consideration a range of factors when responding. That said, we’ll be prioritizing collections generated through this grant program for now, but will certainly discuss opportunities like those you suggest as individuals get in touch with us.

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