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 each year from September through June.

How to apply

  1. Read and understand the guidelines.
  2. Submit your Intent to Apply information. This is required and nonbinding.
  3. Prepare your application according to the guidelines.

Application timeline for 2022-2023 applicants

October 2021 Guidelines and application available
January 26, 2022 Application deadline
February – April 2022 Panel review
Late April 2022 Notification to applicants
September 2022 Programs can start
Fall 2022 Next grant opportunity available for 2023-2024 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 612.238.8024 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.
  • Follow us on Twitter.