HomeProgramsNEA Big ReadApplication Process

Application Process

Approximately 75 organizations in communities of varying sizes across the country will be selected to participate in NEA Big Read from September 2019 through June 2020.

How to apply

  1. Read the guidelines.
  2. Submit your intent to apply.
  3. (Recommended) Take advantage of the resources in the “Need some help?” section below.
  4. Complete and submit the online application by the deadline listed in the timeline table below.

Application timeline

October 2018 Updated guidelines & online application available
January 24, 2019 Application deadline
Late April 2019 Notification to applicants
Fall 2019 Next grant opportunity available for 2020-2021 programs

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.

Sign up to receive email notification when the application and guidelines become available. Or, follow us on Twitter.

Email me!


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.

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.