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National Leadership Grant for Libraries (NLG-L)

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, Libraries, and Schools
to Improve the Quality of Library and Archive Services

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Conf. Date:


LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

03/30/20 11:59 PM ET


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Grants starting at $25,000 to USA and territories nonprofit, governmental, and school-based libraries to address significant opportunities and challenges in the archival and library fields. Applicants must complete required registrations and submit a preliminary proposal. Funding is intended to support one of the following three goals: lifelong learning, building capacity, and increasing public access. The intent of this funding opportunity is to motivate the library and archival field to innovate, implement, and adapt potentially transformative approaches in response to our society’s demographic and cultural shifts.

The National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program (NLG-L) supports projects that enhance the quality of library and archival services nationwide by advancing theory and practice. Successful proposals will generate results such as new tools, research findings, models, services, practices, or collaborative approaches that can be widely used, adapted, scaled, or replicated to extend the benefits of federal investment. This work may be achieved through projects at various phases of maturity (exploring, piloting, scaling, or enhancing).

The benefits of projects funded in this program must not be limited to the local community but also advance national practice. Projects focused on preserving or providing access to a particular collection or set of collections cannot be supported. Similarly, the program cannot support the digitization of content or pre-digitization activities such as inventorying collections.

To best meet broad community needs and fund work that has national impact, IMLS seeks to fund projects across the mix of the following project maturity levels: exploring, piloting, scaling, and enhancing. For more information on these phases of maturity, see:

As stewards of cultural and natural heritage with rich, authentic content, libraries and museums provide learning experiences for everyone. In FY2018-2022, each award under this program will support one of the following three goals and an associated objective from the IMLS strategic plan, Transforming Communities:

  • Promote Lifelong Learning: IMLS supports learning and literacy for people of all ages through museums and libraries.
  • Build Capacity: IMLS strengthens the capacity of museums and libraries to improve the well-being of their communities.
  • Increase Public Access: IMLS makes strategic investments that increase access to information, ideas, and networks through libraries and museums.

For more information on the program goals, see:

The funding categories are:

  • Planning
  • National Forum
  • Project
  • Research in Service to Practice

For more information on these four funding categories, see:

The project categories are:

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Community Catalysts
  • National Digital Infrastructures and Initiatives

For more information on these four project categories, see:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 147018

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Anticipated number of awards: 55

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Planning Grants: Up to $100,000
- National Forum Grants: Up to $150,000
- Project Grants: Up to $1,000,000
- Research in Service to Practice Grants: Up to $1,000,000

Average amount of funding per award experienced in previous years: $188,034
Award Floor: $25,000

Term of Contract:

Beginning Date of Period of Performance: Not earlier than August 1, 2020. Projects must begin on August 1 or September 1, 2020.

Anticipated period of performance: August 1, 2020– August 31, 2023. Project activities may be carried out for one to three years based on the selected funding category.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible as an applicant for the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program, you must:

- Be either a unit of State or local government or be a private, nonprofit institution that has nonprofit status under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, and
- Be located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

In addition, you must qualify as one of the following:

-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 (including community 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 available. (Research libraries must be under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian and 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);
-A private library or other special library, but only if the State in which it is located determines that the library should be considered a library for purposes of Library Services and Technology (see 20 U.S.C. 9121-9165);
-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 an 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.

Examples of unallowable costs:

Pre-proposal Conference:

Grant Program Webinar: Applicants are invited to participate in a pre-application webinar to learn more about the program and ask questions.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 3 PM – 4 PM EST
Participant call-in number: 866-299-7945
Participant PIN: 5680404#
For more information and to join:

Pre-Application Information:

Due Date: Submit through by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on September 27, 2019 for Preliminary Proposals; March 30, 2020, for Invited Full Proposals.

Anticipated Date of Notification of Award Decisions: July 2020 (subject to the availability of funds and IMLS discretion)

The application process for the NLG-L program has two phases. In the first phase (Preliminary Proposal phase), all applicants must submit a two-page preliminary proposal by the deadline listed above. Selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in the second phase (Invited Full Proposal phase) of the process. Only invited full proposals will be considered for funding.

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S® number (a unique entity identifier), System for Award Management ( registration, and registration. Check your materials and registrations well in advance of the application deadline to ensure that they are accurate, current, and active.

You must register with prior to submitting your application package. The multi-step registration process generally cannot be completed in a single day. If you are not already registered, you should allow several weeks before the grant program deadline to complete this one-time process. Do not wait until the day of the application deadline to register.

Project grants requesting $249,999 or more in IMLS funds require 1:1 cost share. All other funding categories do not require a cost share.

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For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the page above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Program Contacts (by project category):

Jill Connors-Joyner,
- Early learning
- Young adult services
- Informal STEM learning
- Making

Sarah Fuller,
- Community development
- Workforce development
- Services for new Americans
- Public health

James Neal,
- Broadband
- Digital inclusion
- Open educational resources
- Data privacy and security

Ashley, Sands PhD,
- Digital collections
- Digital preservation
- Archives and special collections
- Community archives

Ashley, Sands, PhD,
- Research data management
- Scholarly communications
- Open infrastructures

Sandy Toro, PhD,
- Native American library services
- Native Hawaiian library services

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URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)