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Our Town: Projects that Build Knowledge about Creative Placemaking

Grants to USA Nonprofits and IHEs to Increase
Arts and Culture in Social and Civic Engagement

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National Endowment for the Arts

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

09/25/17 11:59 PM ET


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Grants starting at $25,000 to USA nonprofit and university-based art or design service organizations for the development and dissemination of creative placemaking knowledge through collaborative projects. Applications must register or renew the required account by August 21 and submit the required form by September 11.

These projects should expand the capacity of artists and arts organizations to be more effective at executing creative placemaking projects, and to work more effectively with economic and community development practitioners, and vice versa, to improve the livability of the communities and create opportunities for all.

These projects can be carried out by arts service or design service organizations, and/or other national or regional membership, policy, or university-based organizations that provide technical assistance to those doing place-based economic and community development work, and to expand the knowledge base about creative placemaking to their members and the field.

In the first three years of funding this area of Our Town, NEA has invested in many partnership projects that expand the capacity for creative placemaking among audiences such as artists and arts organizations, urban planners, rural economic planners, public park managers, local civic leaders, community development practitioners, and downtown managers.

NEA hopes to reach a wide range of professional networks positioned to facilitate the exchange of creative placemaking and community development knowledge and practices between fields. In this fourth year of the program, NEA is interested in expanding the types of audiences targeted in projects. This may include, but is not limited to, additional types of cultural organizations and artists, public safety officials, Native American community development leaders, public health practitioners, transportation leaders, etc. NEA is especially interested in projects where the dissemination of creative placemaking strategies and tools ultimately empowers local residents.

These projects should expand the knowledge base about creative placemaking to their members and the field, and must reflect the following:

-Involvement of the organization's membership, audience, or constituency, as appropriate.
-Systemic approach to building knowledge about creative placemaking for the organization and broader field of community development.
-Clearly defined systems that provide for the management of new ideas, documentation, the potential for learning, and sharing of technical assistance programming.
-Clearly defined audience for technical assistance, and delivery of technical assistance. (Funding will not support only the creation of technical assistance knowledge. The knowledge must also be delivered).
-The appropriate arts and/or place-based experts to provide the services included in the project.
-Artistic excellence of the arts organizations, or artists involved with the project.

Projects may include activities in creative placemaking for member organizations and individuals such as:

-Training opportunities and convenings, whether in-person or remote.
-Technical assistance and capacity building for members.
-Research, policy analysis, and decision support tools that help to build a creative placemaking knowledge base.
-Other projects appropriate to the organization's internal system of learning.

Projects may focus on delivering technical assistance on a wide variety of creative placemaking topics such as those project types covered in 'Exploring Our Town', or under the Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design area of Our Town.

NEA understands that creative placemaking projects are often multi-year, large-scale initiatives. Please be specific about which phase or phases your request for funding will address. All phases of a project are eligible for support.

Required Partnerships

Applications must identify a partnership with either an organization or consultant, and one of the two partners must have creative placemaking expertise. For example, an art-based membership organization must have an economic or community development knowledge consultant/organization/partner identified at the time of application, or an economic or community development membership organization must have an arts-based knowledge consultant/organization/partner.

Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as colleges and universities, or individuals.

Arts service and design service organizations and other national or regional organizations that provide technical assistance to those doing place-based work are expected to involve their memberships and constituencies, as appropriate.


Through Our Town projects, the Arts Endowment intends to achieve the following objective from NEA’s strategic plan: Livability: American communities are strengthened through the arts. Successful Our Town projects will impact livability by affecting community priorities such as public safety, health, blight and vacancy, environment, job creation, equity, local business development, civic participation, and/or community cohesion. The anticipated long-term results for Livability projects are measurable community benefits, which might include:

-Growth in overall levels of social and civic engagement.
-New avenues for expression and creativity.
-Design-focused changes in policies, laws, and/or regulations.
-Job and/or revenue growth.
-Positive changes in migration patterns.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 172667

Estimated Size of Grant:

You must request a grant amount at one of the following levels: $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000.

Term of Contract:

NEA support of a project may start on August 1, 2018, or any time thereafter. A grant period of up to two years is allowed. Allow sufficient time to plan, execute, and close out your project. The two-year period is intended to allow an applicant sufficient time to plan, execute, and close out its project, not to repeat a one-year project for a second year.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Independent school districts
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Organizations that may apply include:

-Arts and design organizations that provide services to the field.

-National and regional place-based industry or university-based organizations that provide technical assistance to those doing place-based economic and/or community development work. This may include housing, transportation, public safety, public health, and economic development organizations who wish to engage in creative placemaking activities.

An art-based membership organization must have a place-based knowledge consultant/organization/partner identified at the time of application, or a place-based membership organization must have an arts-based knowledge consultant/organization/partner.

To be eligible, the applicant organization must:
-Meet the Arts Endowment's "Legal Requirements" including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application.
-Have a three-year history of programming prior to the application deadline.
-Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all Arts Endowment awards(s) previously received.

Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as colleges and universities, or individuals.

The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) may serve as partners in Our Town projects. NEA funds can’t support any SAA or RAO costs.

All applicants must have a DUNS number ( and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award. Finalize a new or renew an existing registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. This action should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in your inability to submit your application. Maintain documentation (with dates) of your efforts to register or renew at least two weeks before the deadline.

Application Restrictions:

An organization may submit as a lead applicant two applications to Our Town.

A partnering organization may serve as a partner on as many applications as they like.

If two applications are submitted from a single lead applicant, the capacity of the lead applicant to carry out and sustain two Our Town projects will be considered in the review of applications.

Other National Endowment for the Arts Funding Opportunities:

You may apply to other Arts Endowment funding opportunities, including Art Works and Challenge America, in addition to Our Town. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of a project. If you have applied to the NEA in the past and were not recommended for funding, you may apply again to any funding opportunity, including Our Town.

Under these guidelines, funding is not available for:
-Costs incurred before or after the beginning of the official period of performance.
-General operating or seasonal support.
-Costs for the creation of new organizations.
-Direct grants to individuals. (NEA encourages applicant organizations to involve individual artists in all possible ways.)
-Individual elementary or secondary schools -- charter, private, or public -- directly. Schools may participate as partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies. Local education agencies, school districts, and state and regional education agencies are eligible. 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.
-Construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities. (Design fees, preparing space for an exhibit, installation or de-installation of art, and community planning are eligible. However, no National Endowment for the Arts or matching funds may be directed to the costs of physical construction or renovation or toward the purchase costs of facilities or land.)
-Commercial (for-profit) enterprises or activities, including concessions, food, T-shirts, or other items for resale.
-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. (See more information on subgranting.)
-Costs to bring a project into compliance with federal grant requirements. This includes environmental or historical assessments or reviews and the hiring of individuals to write assessments or reviews or to otherwise comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and/or the National Historic Preservation Act.
-Awards to individuals or organizations to honor or recognize achievement.
-Generally, professional training programs or courses in degree-granting institutions.
-Projects that replace arts instruction provided by an arts specialist.
-Literary publishing that does not focus on contemporary literature and/or writers.
-Generally, publication of books, exhibition of works, or other projects by the applicant organization's 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. Examples include festivals, exhibitions, or publications for which no jury/editorial judgment has been applied.
-Expenditures related to compensation to foreign nationals and/or travel to or from foreign countries when those expenditures are not in compliance with regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control.
-Project costs supported by any other federal funding. This includes federal funding received either directly from a federal agency (e.g., NEH, HUD, National Science Foundation, or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak); or indirectly from a pass-through organization such as a state arts agency, regional arts organization, or a grant made to another entity.
-Alcoholic beverages.
-Gifts and prizes, including cash prizes as well as other items (e.g., iPads, gift certificates) with monetary value.
-General miscellaneous or contingency costs.
-Contributions and donations to other entities.
-Fines and penalties, bad debt costs, deficit reduction.
-Social activities such as receptions, parties, galas.
-Marketing expenses that are not directly related to the project.
-Audit costs that are not directly related to a single audit (formerly known as an A-133 audit).
-Rental costs for home office workspace owned by individuals or entities affiliated with the applicant organization.
-Visa costs paid to the U.S. government.

Pre-proposal Conference:

NEA will conduct a live "How to Apply" webinar on July 24, 2017, at 3:00 PM Eastern Time followed by a Q&A session.

NEA will conduct a live "Tips & Tricks for Success" webinar on July 31, 2017, at 3:00 PM Eastern Time followed by a Q&A session.

Pre-Application Information:

NEA grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. These matching funds may be all cash or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions. You may include in your Project Budget matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.

Application Calendar:

-Step 1 - Submit SF-424 to September 11, 2017 by 11:59 PM, Eastern Time. Register/renew by at least August 21. Submit by at least September 1.

-Step 2 - Submit Materials to Applicant Portal: 9:00 AM, Eastern Time September 18, 2017 to 11:59 PM, Eastern Time on September 25, 2017.

-Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection: April 2018

-Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance: August 1, 2018

You are required to use Before you apply through for the first time, you must be registered.

Registration with
-Is a multi-step process;
-Takes time; allow two weeks;
-Must be completed before you can submit your application.

In the event of a major emergency (e.g., a hurricane or technological failure), the NEA Chairman may adjust application deadlines for affected applicants. If a deadline is extended for any reason, an announcement will be posted on the NEA website.

Funding Restrictions:

Other Information:

Award Information:

Applicant Eligibility:

Application Review:

Award Administration:

How to Prepare and Submit an Application:

Submit the SF-424 to

Step 2 - Submit Materials Through Applicant Portal:


View this opportunity on

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Click here to register (TBD) for the upcoming webinars and for an archive of the webinar after it is concluded:

Applicant Portal:


Voice/TTY: 202/682-5082

Individuals who do not use conventional print should contact the Arts Endowment's Accessibility Office at 202/682-5532 for help in acquiring an audio recording of these guidelines.

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URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)