Home Programs National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Application Process

Application Process

The National Endowment for the Arts 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 75 organizations in communities of varying sizes across the country will be selected to participate in NEA Big Read from September 2020 through June 2021.

How to apply

  1. Read and understand the guidelines and eligibility criteria.
  2. Submit an Intent to Apply. This is required and nonbinding.
  3. Prepare your application according to the guidelines.
  4. Complete and submit the application form by Wednesday, January 29, 2020.

Submit an intent to apply

Application timeline

October 2019 Updated guidelines available
January 29, 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.

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