Museums of America Grant – $250k DUE: 12-14-18

NASA MUREP $3 million – Institutional Research Opportunity – Due: 12-17-18
November 10, 2018
Youth Garden Grant – $1k – DUE: 12-17-18
December 14, 2018

Museums for America
While not necessarily focused on STEM, this matching grant program has funded STEM based projects from museums, planetariums, botanical gardens, science centers, and universities.  See the full opportunity at:



Federal Awarding Agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services
Funding Opportunity Title: Museums for America
Announcement Type: Notice of Funding Opportunity
Funding Opportunity Number: MFA-FY19
Catalog of Federal Financial Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.301
Due Date: Submit through by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on December 14, 2018.
Anticipated Date of Notification of Award Decisions: September 2019 (subject to the availability of funds and IMLS discretion)
Beginning Date of Period of Performance: Not earlier than October 1, 2019. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2019.

Equal Opportunity

IMLS-funded programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. For further information, email the Civil Rights Officer at or write to the Civil Rights Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services, 955 L’Enfant Plaza North, SW, Suite 4000, Washington, DC, 20024-2135.


A.    Program Description

A1. What is this grant program?

The goal of the Museums for America (MFA) grant program is to support projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. Projects may be structured at any of several stages of maturity: exploratory, piloting, scaling, or mainstreaming. A proposed project’s activities may be brand new to the institution, or they may implement learnings, perspectives, or competencies acquired during a previous project. A project may be an effort to intensify the impact of an approach that has been tested and found to be effective, or it may be structured as an opportunity to expand a function or activity that has been deemed successful.



A2. What are indicators of successful projects?

Indicators (characteristics) of successful projects in the MFA Program are as follows:

  • Institutional Impact: The project addresses a key goal identified in the institution’s strategic plan.
  • In-depth Knowledge: The project design reflects a thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about the subject
  • Project-based Design: The work plan consists of a set of logical, interrelated activities tied directly to addressing the key need or challenge identified in the
  • Demonstrable Results: The project generates measurable results that tie directly to the need or challenge it was designed to

A3. What are the IMLS Agency-Level Goals?

The mission of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making.

U.S. museums and libraries are at the forefront in the movement to create a nation of learners. As stewards of cultural and natural heritage with rich, authentic content, libraries and museums provide learning experiences for everyone. In FY2018-2022, each award under this program will support one of the following three goals of the IMLS strategic plan, Transforming Communities:


  • Promote Lifelong Learning: IMLS supports learning and literacy for people of all ages through museums and
  • Build Capacity: IMLS strengthens the capacity of museums and libraries to improve the well- being of their
  • Increase Public Access: IMLS makes strategic investments that increase access to information, ideas, and networks through libraries and

The goals focus on achieving positive public outcomes for communities and individuals; supporting the unique role of museums and libraries in preserving and providing access to collections and content; and promoting library, museum, and information service policies that ensure access to information for all Americans.

IMLS places importance on diversity and inclusion. This may be reflected in a project in a wide range of ways, including efforts to serve individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds; persons with disabilities; persons with limited functional literacy or information skills; individuals having difficulty using a library or museum; underserved urban and rural communities; and children from families with incomes below the poverty level. This may also be reflected in efforts to recruit future professionals in the library or museum fields as well as strategies in building or enhancing access to collections and information.

A4. What are the project categories?

There are three project categories within the MFA program. Your project must align with one of them.

Lifelong Learning



IMLS supports the unique ability of museums to encourage exploration, analysis, and questioning for people of all ages and backgrounds and to foster discovery, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. We welcome applications for projects that position museums as unique teaching and inquiry-focused institutions within today’s formal and informal learning ecosystem.

Successful projects will provide high-quality, inclusive educational opportunities that address particular audience needs. We encourage projects that support cross-disciplinary and inquiry-based methodologies and utilize current research in cognitive and behavioral science as well as best practices developed in museums and other informal learning environments.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Enhanced museum resources that foster early, digital, information, health, financial, media, civic, and other types of literacies;
  • Interpretive and educational programs, product development, and delivery;
  • Exhibition development, design, and fabrication (non-construction);
  • Digital learning resource development, design, and delivery;
  • Programs designed for audiences of specific backgrounds, geography, or circumstances (for example, rural communities or persons with disabilities);
  • Professional development/training for formal and informal educators;
  • Learning partnerships with schools and development of museum resources and programs in support of K-12 school curricula;
  • Learning partnerships with schools and other entities and development of museum resources and programs in support of career preparedness and workforce re-entry for all ages;
  • Programs and partnership development for out-of-school audiences; and
  • Program evaluation, visitor studies, and market analysis to guide the development, the redesign and/or effective delivery of learning

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in this project category.

Community Anchors and Catalysts

IMLS promotes the role of museums as essential partners in addressing the needs of their communities by leveraging their expertise, knowledge, physical space, technology, and other resources. IMLS encourages applications for projects that empower museums to transform their roles in their communities from being community resources to being community anchors or catalysts. We welcome applications that strengthen a museum’s capacity for improving social well-being such as through civic engagement and contributing to the creation of livable, sustainable communities.

Successful projects will develop and implement new approaches to community collaboration to tackle local challenges. We encourage professional development opportunities for museum staff to understand and apply current practices in community collaboration and asset-based community development.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Creating trusted spaces for community learning, debate, and dialogue;
  • Building new partnerships to strengthen community connections through exhibitions, programs, and events;
  • Conducting community-focused planning activities;
  • Implementing audience-focused studies and evaluation;



  • Applying cross-sector partnership development models and programs to define shared visions for community improvement; and
  • Working with the community to create measures and gather information to understand project progress and

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in this project category.

Collections Stewardship and Public Access

IMLS supports the role of museums of all types and sizes as trusted stewards of museum collections as the natural, cultural, artistic, historical, and scientific foundations of our shared heritage and knowledge. Through the careful and responsible management of collections and their associated documentation, museums facilitate access to information, ideas, and connections for people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. We welcome applications for projects designed to maximize the long-term preservation of collections as well as those that seek to strengthen a museum’s ability to manage and shape its collections through curatorial proficiency, the development of well-grounded policies, and project-based technical training for museum staff, volunteers, and interns. We encourage museums to contribute to shared, sustainable systems and networks to make their collections and associated resources more accessible, to facilitate discovery of collections and related information, and to deepen engagement with those collections.

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  • Planning for the management, care, and conservation of collections;
  • Cataloging, inventorying, documenting, and registration of collections;
  • Implementing and enhancing Collections Management Systems in a sustainable manner;
  • Planning and initiating digitization activities, including creating digital tools, training, and platforms that allow expanded public access to and use of the museum’s collection and related information;
  • Developing partnerships that address barriers to accessing museum collections and related information;
  • Conducting conservation surveys and assessments (click here to learn more about conservation surveys);
  • Executing conservation treatments;
  • Rehousing collections; and
  • Planning and implementing environmental improvements (non-construction) for museum collections storage and exhibit

Click here for samples of recently funded applications that support activities in this project category.


Federal Award Information


Total amount of funding expected to be awarded through this announcement $19,900,000
Anticipated number of awards 120
Expected amount of individual awards $5,000 – $250,000
Average amount of funding per award experienced in previous years $170,000
Anticipated start dates for new awards Not earlier than October 1, 2019. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2019.
Anticipated period of performance October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2022. Project activities may be carried out for one to three years.
Type of assistance instrument Grant