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Art Works: Arts Education Grant Program

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    National Endowment For The Arts (NEA)


    The NEA recognizes the catalytic effects of excellent art, and the key role that arts and design organizations play in revitalizing them. To deepen and extend the arts' value, including their ability to foster new connections and to exemplify creativity and innovation, NEA welcome projects that:

    • Are likely to prove transformative with the potential for meaningful change, whether in the development or enhancement of new or existing art forms, new approaches to the creation or presentation of art, or new ways of engaging the public with art;
    • Are distinctive, offering fresh insights and new value for their fields and/or the public through unconventional solutions; and
    • Have the potential to be shared and/or emulated, or are likely to lead to other advances in the field.

    Beyond encouraging projects that demonstrate these characteristics, the NEA wants to achieve the following four objectives regardless of which Art Works subcategory a project may fall under:

    • Creation: The creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence,
    • Engagement: Public engagement with diverse and excellent art,
    • Learning: Lifelong learning in the arts, and
    • Livability: The strengthening of communities through the arts.

    The following information is specific to the Arts Education subcategory of the Art Works Grant Program. Arts Education projects may be in any artistic discipline. Projects for short-term arts exposure, arts appreciation, or intergenerational activity should not be submitted under Arts Education; rather, they should be submitted under the appropriate Art Works subcategory relating to the applicable artistic discipline.

    1. Arts Education funding is focused on students. Projects are for pre-K-12 students, the educators and artists who support them, and the schools and communities that serve them. All students are served when each level of the system is supported. Applicants should consider what role their proposed project plays within this system, and the impact their project has on students. NEA supports three types of projects:Direct Learning - Projects support arts instruction for students, generally pre-K through 12th grade, that result in increased knowledge and skills in the arts and occur inside or outside the school system. Projects should engage students over an extended period of time during or outside the regular school day schedule. Activities may be offered by school districts, arts organizations, non-arts organizations or agencies in partnership with artists and/or arts groups. Projects could take place in locations such as schools, arts organizations, community centers, faith-based organizations, makerspaces, public housing, tribal community centers, and/or juvenile facilities. Applicants applying in Direct Learning should convey how their projects are distinctive and deepen the arts learning experience for students by offering fresh insights and adding new value to the field. Applicants may provide examples of how they are using data to inform programmatic decision making, scaling up or expanding existing arts education services, incorporating effective community partnerships, or working within a larger system or community effort to benefit students in that system. Direct Learning projects should address each of the following elements:
      1. Experience: Participants experience exemplary works of art - in live form where possible - to gain increased knowledge and skills in the art form.
      2. Create: Informed by their experience in an art form, participants will create or perform art.
      3. Assess: Student learning is measured and assessed in alignment with national or state arts education standards. At the conclusion of the project, grantees will be required to describe the assessment methods used to assess learning, and may submit tools used to assess learning with their Final Report. Where appropriate, applicants also may describe project outcomes that use the arts to address youth development, college, career, or citizen readiness or affect change in school or community culture such as school attendance, graduation or recidivism rates. Explain how you plan to measure those outcomes. 
    2. Professional Development - Projects support opportunities for classroom teachers, arts specialists, teaching artists, school/district administrators, other educators, and community leaders to learn how to engage students in high quality arts learning and improve instruction; and If a proposed Professional Development project is part of a larger system or community effort to increase access to arts education for students, please state that in the application. Professional Development projects should include all of the following elements:
      1. Experience: Participants have an experience in or through the arts.
      2. Study: Participants are engaged in a sustained, in-depth course of study.
      3. Evaluate: Participant learning is evaluated and the impact of the professional development on practice is measured.
    3. Collective Impact - Projects increase student access to arts education through collective, systemic approaches. Projects should aim to ensure that all students across entire neighborhoods, schools, school districts, and/or states in communities of all sizes participate in the arts over time. The funder anticipates making a limited number of grants at higher award levels for longer term, large-scale projects that use a collective, systemic approach to provide arts education to students. Longer project periods are encouraged (up to two years) and projects should have significant potential to be shared and customized in communities across the country. Collective Impact projects are multi-year, ongoing, systemic initiatives. These projects should embrace the following principles, which may be ongoing and occur at any point during the project:
      1. Partnership: Cross-sector partners work to determine a common vision, define goals, develop strategies, and identify measurable objectives for arts education. Partners may include arts organizations, units of government, school systems, funders, community organizations, or institutions of higher education. Priority will be given to projects that include a managing partner that is the coordinating entity, and involve at least three cross-sector organizations, one of which is an arts/cultural organization.
      2. Data: Data informs decision making. This may include asset mapping of community resources, collecting student data, or creating new data collection tools.
      3. Planning: A plan outlines system-wide arts education implementation. This should include a description of each partner's role in achieving the common vision, as well as plans for communication among the partners and sustainability.
      4. Programming: Activities support the plan. Programming may include services to students, professional development, curriculum design, or convening stakeholders.
      5. Shared Measurement: A shared measurement system is an evaluation system that assesses the progress of each project partner's work towards common outcomes”increasing student participation in arts education and, as appropriate, societal well-being for students
      6. Identify the project as either Emerging or Sustaining:
        1. Emerging projects are in the initial phase of work to establish an arts education plan. Projects may include cultivation of partners, convenings, collection of data, or creation of an arts education plan.
        2. Sustaining projects have an arts education plan in place. These projects may continue work from the emerging phase, be in the programming and evaluation stage, or scaling up proven efforts to increase arts education access. These projects must demonstrate how they are disseminating project information to the fields of arts education, public education, and beyond.

    Funded projects across all three project types will utilize and test innovative strategies, or scale up proven methodologies, for increasing access to arts education. Applicants should describe the national, regional, or field-wide significance of the project, including local projects that can have significant impact within communities or are likely to demonstrate best practices for the field. 

    Arts Education projects may be in any artistic discipline. Projects for short-term arts exposure, arts appreciation, or intergenerational activity should not be submitted under Arts Education; rather, they should be submitted under the appropriate artistic discipline


    History of Funding

    Recent funding results are searchable on the funder's website at

    Additional Information

    This program does not fund:
    • General operating support;
    • Seasonal support;
    • Costs for the creation of new organizations;
    • Direct grants to individuals;
    • Individual elementary or secondary schools -- charter, private, or public -- directly;
    • Construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities;
    • Commercial (for-profit) enterprises or activities;
    • Cash reserves and endowments;
    • Subgranting or regranting, except for state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, or local arts agencies that are designated to operate on behalf of their local governments or are operating units of city or county government;
    • Costs (and their match) to bring a project into compliance with federal grant requirements;
    • Awards to individuals or organizations to honor or recognize achievement;
    • Generally, professional training in degree-granting institutions;
    • Work toward academic degrees and the pursuit of academic careers;
    • Projects that replace arts instruction provided by a classroom teacher or an arts specialist;
    • Literary publishing that does not focus on contemporary literature and/or writers;
    • Generally, publication of books or exhibition of works by the applicant organization's staff, board members, faculty, or trustees;
    • Exhibitions of, and other projects that primarily involve, single, individually-owned, private collections;
    • Projects for which the selection of artists or art works is based upon criteria other than artistic excellence and merit;
    • Expenditures that are related to compensation to foreign nationals and artists traveling to or from foreign countries when those expenditures are not in compliance with regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control;
    • Visa costs that are paid to the U.S. government;
    • Project costs that are supported by any other federal funds (NEA or any other federal agency such as NEH, ED, NPS, etc., or that are subgranted from a state arts agency or regional arts organization) or their match.


    Art Works Staff

    Art Works Staff
    400 7th Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20506-0001
    (202) 682-5400

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants include:

    • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations;
    • Units of state or local government; or
    • Federally recognized tribal communities or tribes.
    Applicants may be arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies (school districts), and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the Arts Endowment.

    Deadline Details

    This program has two submission deadlines, annually. Initial applications are to be submitted to by February 13, 2020 or July 9, 2020. Applicants will then have until February 25, 2020 or July 21, 2020 to submit the remainder of materials on the NEA applicant portal. A similar timeline for both application windows is anticipated annually.

    Award Details

    Grants generally will range from $10,000 to $100,000. Awards will last up to 2 years. All grants require a non-federal match of at least 1 to 1.

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