Home Programs NEA Big Read Application Process

Application Process

NEA Big Read supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. These programs include activities such as author readings, book discussions, art exhibits, lectures, film series, music or dance events, theatrical performances, panel discussions, and other events and activities related to the community’s chosen book. Activities focus on one book from the NEA Big Read library.

Approximately 80 organizations in communities of varying sizes across the country will be selected to participate in NEA Big Read from September 2020 through June 2021.

Application timeline

Summer 2019 Intent to apply form available (mandatory, non-binding)
October 2019 Updated guidelines & online application available
Late January 2020 Application deadline
Late April 2020 Notification to applicants
Fall 2020 Next grant opportunity available for 2021-2022 programs


Applicant organizations for NEA Big Read must be a 501c(3) nonprofit; a division of state, local, or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library. Eligible applicants include organizations such as arts centers, arts councils, arts organizations, colleges and universities, community service organizations, environmental organizations, fairs and festivals, faith-based organizations, historical societies, housing authorities, humanities councils, libraries, literary centers, museums, school districts, theater companies, trade associations, and tribal governments.

Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. We do not fund individual elementary or secondary schools—charter, private, or public—directly. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. If a single school also is a local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as a local education agency.

Need some help?

  • Contact Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or [email protected] to schedule a 15-minute consultation with Arts Midwest staff.
  • Check out our Application Advice page for some advice, tips, and best practices for your application.
  • Review the NEA Big Read Survival Guide to gain some wisdom from past grantees.
  • Head over to our Pinterest account to get an idea of what previous grantees have done for their promotion and programming, organized by book.

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