The Library of Congress was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant titled “Of the People: Widening the Path” to fund a new, multi-part initiative to connect more deeply with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color by exposing successful applicants to the Library’s expansive collections, using technology to enable storytelling and offering more internship and fellowship opportunities. Part of that grant establishes the four-year Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI). In this post, we invite libraries, archives, and museums to learn about a new grant program funded by CCDI.
Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI): Through CCDI, the Library will fund two grant programs for applicants to create digital or digital/physical interfaces, publications or exhibits that incorporate Library of Congress digital materials into resources that meet local community needs. This Notice of Funding Opportunity, or “Notice” represents the program specifically for Libraries, Archives, and Museums. A separate Notice is open to minority serving higher education institutions. A third program will support a Scholar or Artist in Residence. Across all three our aim is to support work that uses digital Library collections to enrich the American story and speak to the perspectives and experiences of underrepresented communities.
This program will support local cultural heritage organizations by enabling storytelling across a range of platforms. Specifically, the Library of Congress seeks to award a grant to a library, archive, museum or community archive to support the design and implementation of digital projects (digital exhibits, interfaces, multimedia productions or publications) that use digital materials from the Library of Congress to engage Black, Indigenous, or other community members of color.
Projects funded through this program will use items from across the Library’s digital collections, and may describe, display, and re-mix them, in keeping with copyright and other laws, in whatever ways are most valuable to their own context. For this grant, technology can be used in simple or in complex ways, and successful applicants may develop new technologies or make use of existing platforms, tools, or approaches, such as social media platforms, or multimedia productions. The important factor in a successful project is the connections it enables in communities, and the impact of the project on its creators, users, and audience.
How to Apply and Important Dates
Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity fully and carefully to plan your application. The notice contains detailed guidance about application requirements.
- Additional help is available by
- Register to attend an informational webinar if available (dates below)
- “How to Develop and Write a Grant Proposal” [updated Aug. 28, 2019]
The Library will host a series of webinars to walk through the Notice of Funding Opportunity, and to answer questions. These webinars will be recorded and linked below.
September 22 at 3 PM EST: VIEW RECORDING
October 15 at 3 PM EST: VIEW RECORDING
October 25 at 3PM EST: RECORDING COMING SOON
- December 7, 2021. Questions about applying for this funding opportunity may be submitted through email to [email protected], including “NOFO 030ADV21R0215 – questions” in the subject line, until 5:00 p.m. on this date. No questions will be accepted after this date.
- December 14, 2021. Applications for this funding opportunity are due by 12:00 p.m. (noon ET) on the date identified here. Full application packages should be emailed to the Library by this time. Applications must be submitted by email to [email protected] See Section D.3 Application Package and Submission Requirements in the Notice of Funding Opportunity for more information.
Using the Notice of Funding Opportunity (“the Notice”) as a Planning Tool
The Notice of Federal Opportunity (the “Notice”) states application requirements organized across distinct sections. Each section is important and provides detailed information and definitions related to specific aspects of the application process:
- Sec. A: Program Description giving background, the purpose of the grant, program expectations and deliverables, and an overview of the selection process. ***
- Sec. B: Federal Award Information summarizes key elements of the opportunity including the period of performance, estimated start date, and estimated funds available and number of awards.
- Sec. C: Eligibility Requirements details both who may apply for the grant and other conditions affecting a satisfactory application.
- Sec. D: Application and Submission Information gives a full description of the needed elements of the application itself, including project proposal information, project budget information, and required forms, as well as details on when and how to submit the application package itself. It includes the list of steps to be completed in order to apply, including***
- Request a DUNS number, if needed, and register with the federal System for Award Management.
- Submit a proposal narrative using the outline provided in the Notice of Funding Opportunity
- Submit a Budget Plan Worksheet Template, Budget Narrative, Spending Summary and Plans using the appropriate forms available with the Notice
- Sec. E: Application Review and Award describes how an application will be evaluated and how the Library will notify successful applicants. ***
- Sec. H: Federal Awarding Agency Contacts provides information regarding technical and administrative contacts for the program.
*** While all information is important to the purpose, requirements, and expectations of the grant program, these three (3) sections are critical to helping applicants plan, outline, and create their grant proposal.
The Notice also provides information regarding expectations of grant management and legal considerations that will apply if the Library awards a grant to an applicant, including:
- Sec. F: Project Management and Reporting summarizes the Library’s expectations of an awardee including project planning, interim and final reporting, and communications with the Library’s program team.
- Sec. G: Federal Award Administration describes the legal and regulatory framework applying to the grant including applicable Library and federal regulations, general terms and conditions, disclosures, and intellectual property right considerations.
- Sec. I: Other Information defines the payment schedule for awards
Federal Systems and Forms
As a government agency, the Library of Congress complies with federal rules regarding the distribution of funds.
- Grants.gov In order to download the Notice and associated forms and documents, visit the application on grants.gov, click on “Related Documents” and download all necessary forms. Applicants cannot submit an application via grants.gov.
- SAM.gov Applicants must register as an entity on SAM.gov (System for Award Management). For SAM, it may take 12-15 days or longer for a submitted registration form to be processed and the registration activated. Applicants are encourages to register early to avoid delays. To register on SAM.gov, review the Getting Started Information and available Quick Start Guide for Grant Registrations.
- Forms The application package must contain the federal form
- Form SF-424 Application for Federal Domestic Assistance- Short Organizational is a standard cover sheet for applications included with the Notice and also available for download from Grants.gov
- The SF-424 form asks applicants to provide basic contact information and to briefly describe the proposed project and identify the project director/administrator.
Questions and Answers
Grant program overview
- What’s the purpose of this program? The Library of Congress will expand the connections between the Library and diverse communities and strengthen the use of Library of Congress digital collections and digital tools. The Library of Congress seeks to award a grant to support the creative and wide-ranging use of Library collections and the connective powers of technology to serve Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander or other racial and ethnic minority populations within the United States in sharing stories about America’s past, present, and future.
- Where can I learn more about the necessary process to apply for this grant? All information about this opportunity is available in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. Click “related documents” in grants.gov and download the Notice there.
- Can I make an appointment to discuss my proposed project? The Library of Congress does not provide one-on-one feedback on project proposals for this grant program. If there is a specific question, please email [email protected], including “NOFO 030ADV21R0215 – questions” in the subject line, and the response will be posted weekly at the bottom of this page. Questions received after noon Eastern time on December 7 will not be answered.
- I’m not sure if this is the right program for me. Are there other funding opportunities available? Over the next several years, the Library will offer several programs as part of the “Of the People” program. Areas of interest, funding available, and the number of awards may vary. All funding opportunities will be listed on the “Of the People: Widening the Path” Funding Opportunities page for easy reference. Bookmark the page or subscribe to blog (RSS or email) to stay informed.
- Who is eligible to receive this grant? Applicants may be libraries, archives (including community archives), or museums. For-profit applicants are not eligible. Addtional information about eligibility is found in Section C of the Notice.
- Are applicants in the U.S. territories eligible to apply? Yes, applicants located in the U.S. territories meet the eligibility requirements.
- Will the Library accept multiple proposals from the same applicant? An eligible applicant may submit only one application under this announcement. Applicants may be included in multiple proposals as members of collaborative partnerships or within a single organization.
- May two entities collaborate and submit one proposal? While the Library encourages collaboration among entities and will accept proposals that leverage the resources of two or more organizations, Library grants will be awarded to only one entity. Therefore, applications must identify a single lead recipient, who will be listed as the awardee and responsible for all financial requirements under the grant.
- What are the grant amounts the Library will award? IThe Library of Congress intends to award one pursuant to this notice of funding opportunity. The Library’s intention is to make grant awards of up to $60,000.
- How long is the funding period? The funding period is 12 months.
- If my proposal was selected, when would I receive funds? The Library expects to announce funding decisions on or before February 10, 2022. Once a decision has been made, many factors may affect the specific timing of payments to applicants as outstanding issues are resolved and the Grant Agreement is made available for review and acceptance. Once the Grant Agreement is fully executed, the Grant Officer will share instructions specific to each recipient on how to request payment. See Section F.2 Notice of Federal Award for more information.
- Can this grant be extended to additional years? This grant has a period of performance of 12 months. The timeline and budget should correspond to a 12 month period.
Application details and federal forms
- What is the application deadline? All proposals must be submitted via email to [email protected] no later than 12:00 PM (Noon Eastern Time) on December 14, 2021. No application materials are to be submitted via Grants.gov.
- What should be in an application packet? Refer to Section D of the Notice for detailed information. In brief, the application packet must contain:
- a SF-424 Application for Federal Domestic Assistance-Short Organizational;
- a Proposal Narrative of no more than 8 pages describing the proposed project, the organization, key project staff/consultants, a description of past activity relevant to the project proposed, and necessary disclosures
- a Budget Plan Worksheet, i.e., a completed version of the Excel worksheet attached to the notice
- a Budget Narrative of approximately 2-4 pages explaining the connection between the proposed project and the budget plan
- Necessary appendix materials including disclosures and other notices as are relevant to individual applicants.
- The grants.gov system does not allow me to apply for this grant. How do I submit the application? As in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, Parts D.3 and D.6 on page 6, all proposals are to be submitted by email to [email protected]
- How should the Standard Form (SF-424) PDFs and the budget narrative excel spreadsheet be submitted in the MS WORD electronic copy version of the proposal? The PDFs may be submitted as PDFs, and the excel spreadsheet budget may remain in excel format, with the MS WORD file(s) of the application. Files may be attached separately to a single or multiple emails to [email protected] Please make sure each submission email clearly identifies the proposal applicant(s) and proposed project title. See Section D.6 Email Submission Requirements.
- Are the cover page, budget attachments (Budget Narrative Template (excel) and Budget Justification (word/ PDF), the appendices and the standard forms (SF424) considered part of the proposal 8-page count limit? No, these documents, forms, attachments, and the cover page will not count against the 8-page limit.
- For the application, does the cover page and letters of support from an administrator count towards the 8-page maximum for the narrative? No. Those documents are separate from the narrative.
- The SF-424 asks for a UEI rather than DUNS Number. How should we complete the form? The transition from DUNS number to a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) created in SAM.gov was delayed. The transition date was shifted from 2020 to April 2022. You may use your DUNS number.
- In the SF-424 application, what is #4 “funding opportunity number” for the “widening the path” grant? For organizations, it is the Notice of Funding Opportunity Number 030ADV21R0215.
- Due to Adobe 8 restrictions, I cannot download Form SF-424 Application for Federal Domestic Assistance – Individual. Can you send me the form? Yes. Request an SF-424 form to [email protected]
- Appendices: Should the separate appendices be submitted as individual appendix files? The Library does not have a recommendation or preference, and it may depend on the email server or file size (please see the Notice for the Library’s maximum email size limit). All appendices may be combined into one PDF or submitted as individual PDF files. Please make sure individual files and emails are clearly labeled and connected to your application.
- Should the appendices be combined into a single PDF file with the Project Narrative and other attachments? The Library does not have a recommendation or preference and it may depend on the email server or file size (please see the Notice for the Library’s maximum email size limit). All appendices, project narrative sections, and other forms and attachments may be combined into one PDF or submitted as individual PDF files. Please make sure individual files and emails are clearly labeled and connected to your application.
- What information should I include in my project description? Applicants should use the project description to provide a reasonable explanation of the work they would like to perform and to demonstrate how the proposed work would align with the goals of the program overall. Applicants should also review the factors the Library will consider in evaluating applications to make sure their proposal addresses these points sufficiently. See Section E. Application Review and Reward for more information.
- Are project timelines and other visual charts allowed in the proposal? Yes, project timelines and other visual charts are allowed in the proposal and may be included in the body of the project narrative (8-page limit) or as a separate, supplementary appendix.
- I don’t want all the materials I collect or include in my project to be shared in the Library’s collections for public use. What should I do? The Library’s preference is for projects that extend an open license for non-commercial public use to the collection materials, but we encourage applicants to describe in detail any specific limitations they might predict for portions of the collection. See Section G.5 Intellectual Property Rights and Data Use for more information. The Library intends to be attentive to culturally sensitive materials that may be part of documentation gathered during a project, and will work with grant awardees to determine the most appropriate approach regarding access. In either the proposal or as a separate appendix document, applicants with concerns must describe any limitations on any intellectual property that will affect applicant’s performance of the grant or affect the Library’s (or the public’s) subsequent use of any deliverable under the agreement (e.g. potential documentation of copyrighted cultural material). In particular, the applicant must describe the intellectual property in sufficient detail, clearly state any limitations, and describe how the Library can use the work with the limitations described or proposed by the applicant.
Budget Narrative and Worksheets
- Why do I have to explain my budget information in two separate sections and formats? What’s the relationship between the Budget Plan Worksheet and the Budget Narrative? The Library requests two different perspectives on project budgets to aid in the evaluation of the overall project proposal:
- The worksheet asks applicants to provide a detailed view on the estimated costs of the project to demonstrate the applicant has fully considered the resources needed for the project and that only allowable expenses are included.
- The narrative ask applicants explain how the costs included are reasonable and necessary for project performance and demonstrate that grant funds would be used appropriately and wisely to support program objectives.
- How do I prepare a proposed budget? Applicants should consider their proposal and identify needed resources, goods, and services using the categories shown on the worksheet as prompts: Salaries Wages & Benefits; Travel; Equipment; Supplies; Contractual; Other. Items to include should be allowable under federal regulations and as specific as possible. Amounts to include should be reasonable for the scope of the proposed project – allocating too little money to resource needs can raise as much concern as allocating too much money. More information is also available in the CRS report “How to Develop and Write a Grant Proposal” [updated Aug. 28, 2019].
- What are allowable costs? As a general rule, allowable costs are those that are reasonably part of, and of benefit to, the proposed grant project. Costs that apply to multiple projects or personal expenses are typically not allowed as direct expenses. For specific questions, contact the Grant Officer to Ramon Samuel at [email protected], including “NOFO 030ADV21R0215 – questions” in the subject line, as directed in Section D2 Questions and Answers.
- Are travel costs allowable in the grant budget? Yes. Applicants should ensure any per diem costs (lodgings or meals and incidentals expenses per day) do not exceed allowable government rates as defined by the U.S. General Services Administration. For information on permitted per diem rate, applicants can use the GSA’s Per Diem Rates Look Up tool
- My project will only include some of the categories on the budget form. Do I need to fill in the other categories? For the sake of clarity, applicants should enter $0 for total expenses in categories where they have no planned costs.
- Are matching funds required? There is no mandatory cost share or matching requirement for this grant program.
- What happens if our proposal is selected for funding and there are budget or personnel changes? To make a change to a submitted proposal before the application deadline, contact the Grant Officer at [email protected], including “NOFO 030ADV21R0215 – questions” in the subject line. as directed in Section D2 Questions and Answers. Changes or modifications to a proposal after it has been selected for funding will be handled on a case by case basis by the Library. For modifications to an awarded project, please see the terms of the agreement created for how to proceed. In most cases, minor modifications may be requested as long as the original, funded intent of the award does not change. In extreme cases, grantees who are not able to fulfill the terms of their award may be subject to early termination or other terms as specified in their award agreement.
- Where in the Budget Plan Worksheet do we indicate cost sharing? If there will be no cost sharing, please indicate that in your Budget Narrative. If there is a cost-share, you may add a cost-share tab to the Budget Plan Worksheet and itemize, or alternatively, describe it in detail in terms of type of cost and amount in your Budget Narrative.
- Could you please provide the citation for specific allowable and unallowable costs? This is the link to 2 CFR 200, Subpart E – Cost Principles: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/2/part-200/subpart-E. Specific types of costs can be found under General Provisions for Selected Items of Cost (§§ 200.420 – 200.476).
- Is it acceptable to add a line item for contingencies to the budget? No. Please use the line items specified in the Budget Plan Worksheet.
Selection and award processes
- Who will review grant applications? The Library will assemble panels comprising Library of Congress staff and invited panelists. See Section E. Application Review and Award for more information.
- When will the Library communicate grant decisions? The Library intends to communicate funding decisions on or before February 17, 2022.
Other questions (submitted via email)
Questions submitted over email or through blog comments will be answered weekly in this section.
1. The synopsis for this grant reads as if only one grant will be awarded, is that correct? That is correct. The Library expects to award one grant in each program this year. In future years, the Library expects to award more grants from each opportunity. However, in this first year, there will be one award.
2. We are inquiring as to whether Federally Recognized Tribes are eligible to be applicants for this grant. Could you give us some insight as to whether this is the case?
Page 6 Section C.1: “A non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organization, unit of state or local government or federally recognized tribal community or tribe[.]”, but the notice on grants.gov lists that only.“Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education” are eligible. Out of an abundance of caution, could you please confirm that we are eligible. Please use the eligibility information in the NOFO, as it includes more details. Due to limited space the information on the notice had to be summarized.
3. Can you apply to multiple grants? An applicant may apply for multiple grant opportunities, but project activity funded by one grant can not also be funded by a different grant.
4. I am trying to apply for this grant mentioned in the subject, but the apply button is grey and I can not click on it. Is there anything I need to do so I can apply for this grant? As in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, Parts D.3 and D.6 on page 6, all proposals are to be submitted by email to [email protected]
5. Are you providing draft feedback at all? I am hoping I could get some suggestions for this concept, attached. The Library of Congress does not provide one-on-one feedback on project proposals for this grant program.
6. Is this grant considered a federal grant? If so, what is the CFDA number? Yes. The CFDA number for the Library of Congress Grants is 42.011.
7. I am applying with members of my library’s special collections to the “Connecting Communities Digital Initiative” Grant. We will be applying to the grant for Library and Museums. A colleague told me that university libraries cannot make this request, but I asked this question in the webinar and was told that our project fits the parameters of the grant. Could you please confirm that university libraries can apply? Yes, university libraries can apply for the grant to Libraries Archives and Museums. You can find detailed information in the Of the People: Widening the Path blog here. You can also watch the recording of the webinar for this grant here.
October 22, 2021: Post updated to reflect deadline extension