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Collections Grant

Grants to USA Nonprofits in Multiple States to
Enhance Access to Historical and Cultural Collections

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (GDDF)

Deadline Date:

07/26/19 11:59 PM CT


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Grants to Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and South Carolina nonprofit organizations to improve public access to collections that highlight the unique culture, heritage, and history of eligible communities. Applicants must contact program staff prior to applying. Eligible communities include the Chicago region counties of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana; and the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. All projects must be regionally focused and lead toward increased public access.

The Foundation focuses grants in three distinct project areas:

1) At-Risk Collections:

The Foundation offers project grants to organizations to preserve at-risk collections. At-risk collections include orphan collections (those being deaccessioned with no identified future home), those in private hands (proverbial ones in basements, attics and forgotten storerooms), collections held by organizations with limited capacities, and occasionally collections within larger institutions. For at-risk collections, the Foundation supports a range of projects, from stabilization, to restoration, to archival processing.

2) Creative Interpretation:

The Foundation offers project planning grants for institutions to work with artists, curators, historians and other creatives to engage audiences in new, dynamic ways; that push the envelope of presentation and interpretation; that go beyond the typical array of exhibits and exhibitions in drawing attention to collections of exceptional regional significance. Institutions that receive planning grants may be eligible in the future for partial funding support to implement projects of exceptional promise.

3) Digitization:

The Foundation offers challenge grants for digitization projects of the highest value, regionally-focused collections. A higher priority will be placed on those digitized collections that can be made available through one of the regional digital portals: Lowcountry Digital Library (College of Charleston), EXPLORE Chicago Collections (Chicago Collections Consortium) or the Community Collections Portal (Chicago Cultural Alliance.)

The purpose of challenge grants, beyond supporting expanded public accessibility, is to help institutions build a stronger base of support for stewarding its collections long-term. Organizations may apply for a maximum of three challenge grants, provided they demonstrate progress toward building and sustaining long-term support.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178954

Estimated Size of Grant:

At-risk Collections and Digitization Grants vary in size, depending on several factors.

Creative Interpretation planning grants may be up to $25,000.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for a grant:
-You must be a 501(c)(3) public charity. The Foundation does not make collections grants through fiscal sponsors or agents.
-You must be in compliance with your Secretary of State.
-You must have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations before applying.
-Chicago region organizations must be current with their DataArts profile (formerly the Cultural Data Project).
-A technology plan is in place or in development.
-A letter of agreement is secured from any partner organizations.

The Foundation's service area includes the following regions:

Chicago Region:
-Illinois: McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Will, Kendall, and Grundy Counties
-Wisconsin: Walworth and Kenosha Counties
-Indiana: Lake, Porter, and LaPorta Counties

Lowcountry Region:
-South Carolina: Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Charleston, Hampton, Jasper, and Beaufort Counties

The following are not eligible:
-Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying
-Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos
-Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction

Pre-Application Information:

Please call the Foundation to discuss your project. Staff can provide guidance as to the potential fit with the Foundation’s guidelines, and answer any questions you may have before sending you a link to the online application form.

Your complete proposal must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Central Time on
- March 29, 2019 for review at the July 2019 board meeting, or
- July 26, 2019 for review at the November 2019 board meeting

It takes about four months from grant application deadline through board decision. After the board meeting, you will hear from staff by email within a couple weeks.

More information regarding the Foundation's service areas may be found here:

Contact Information:

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

If you have questions about Chicago Region Collections grants, contact Chicago Senior Program Officer, Ellen Placey Wadey at 312.977.2707.

If you have questions about Lowcountry Collections grants, contact Lowcountry office at 843.277.2041.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois: McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Will, Kendall, and Grundy Counties;   Indiana: Lake, Porter, and LaPorta Counties;   South Carolina: Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Charleston, Hampton, Jasper, and Beaufort Counties;   Wisconsin: Walworth and Kenosha Counties