Author Archives: Eileen Morales

About Eileen Morales

Throughout my career, I've helped museums and libraries in New York and New Jersey find funding sources for new projects. My favorite projects have utilized new technologies to increase public access to the photographs, diaries, and everyday objects that are not usually on display. My position as Grants Manager at the New Jersey State Library includes outreach to New Jersey libraries involved in the grant-seeking process. Email me at

Humanities Discussions Funding Available

Image of the Liberty Bell to visualize the founding of the United States

There is just a month remaining to apply for the first of two rounds of available 2019-2020 funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), “Public Humanities Projects” program. The upcoming application deadline is August 14, 2019.

Potential applicants must review the Notice of Funding Opportunity, which covers project types, funding levels, applicant eligibility, application components, and review criteria, along with other important information. All applications must be submitted through the Workspace. Approximately 16 grants will be awarded through this opportunity.

U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education. This program supports projects in three categories: Exhibitions (permanent, temporary, or traveling); interpretive programs at Historic Places; and Humanities Discussions related to “A More Perfect Union:” NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Celebrating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary.

Libraries may be particularly interested in applying through the “Humanities Discussions” category. Proposed programs in this category should engage diverse public audiences with humanities resources such as historic artifacts, artwork, or documents, and should be anchored in perspectives presented by humanities experts as speakers, panelists, or discussion leaders, providing context and analysis of program themes. Projects may include, but are not limited to, symposiums, lecture series, reading and discussion programs, analytical discussions of museum collections or theater/musical performances, lifelong learning programs, or other methods of face-to-face audience engagement or informal education. The proposed series should occur over a period of three months to two years. Public Humanities Projects in any category must involve humanities scholars who contribute to all phases of the project.

The Public Humanities Projects program includes two funding levels: Planning and Implementation. Only Implementation awards are available for the “Humanities Discussions” category and such funding will not exceed $250,000. Planning awards in the other categories are typically funded up to $40,000 and Implementation awards in the other categories are funded within a range of $50,000 to $400,000.

As noted above, Public Humanities Projects proposals in the “Humanities Discussions” category must respond to the NEH area of interest, “A More Perfect Union:” NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Celebrating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary. According to the Notice of Funding Opportunity, this agency-wide initiative will help Americans better understand the world’s oldest constitutional democracy and how our founding ideals are met in a modern, pluralistic society. As our nation approaches its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH encourages projects that promote a deeper understanding of American history and culture and that advance civics education and knowledge of our core principles of government.

Prospective applicants may contact the NEH program staff at 202-606-8269 or to discuss potential projects and ask any questions about the application.


Grant Programs in May


Are you thinking about applying for grant funding for your library? Consider attending these programs in May to help you navigate the grants process!

On Friday, May 3rd, come to a panel discussion, “Tips from Library Grant Winners,” to hear from New Jersey librarians who have successfully applied for grants from a variety of funders. Kim T. Ha, Director of Pennington Public Library, Rebecca Sandoval, Technical Services Manager of Somerset County Library System, and Michelle Yeager, Director of Woodbury Public Library will share their personal experiences in applying for and managing grants at their libraries. Time: 10:00 to 11:30 A.M. Location: New Jersey State Library’s Talking Book & Braille Center, 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue, Trenton. Free. Click to register.

If you’re planning to attend the NJLA Conference, consider an early arrival to attend the preconference workshop on Wednesday, May 29 (10 A.M. to 1 P.M.), “What Makes a Proposal Great? Beyond the Basics of Grant Writing for Your Library.” Join Brittany Campese of Vision Driven Consulting for an interactive and engaging session that will review common grant jargon, discuss aspects of good (and not so good) grant proposals by reading actual applications, and practice crafting a compelling program pitch. Some prior experience with the grant writing process is recommended for attendance at this workshop. This workshop is co-sponsored by NJLA’s Administration & Management and Small Libraries Sections. See the NJLA Conference website for registration and pricing details.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association, the Mid-Atlantic Grants Conference might also interest library directors or anyone else seeking grant funding for libraries. This year’s conference starts off with a preconference session at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 19th, followed by a full day on Monday, May 20th, 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., all at Caesar’s Atlantic City. Highlights will include luncheon keynote speaker, Susan Shiroma, Senior Social Sector Librarian at Foundation Center; a Funders Panel including Jeremy Grunin (Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation), Marsha Atkind (Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey) and Eddie Laporte (NJ Office of Faith-Based Initiatives); and such sessions as “Are You Grant Ready?,” “Performance Indicators,” and “Ethics in Using Data.” See the website for additional information and to register.


Two National Endowment Deadlines

Spiral of Books

Public libraries and other organizations may now apply to the NEA Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest. The application deadline is Thursday, January 24, 2019.

NEA Big Read is a community reading program centered on one of 32 selections from the NEA Big Read list. An applicant to participate in the NEA Big Read must propose at least a month-long series of events and programs that are designed around one selected book.

Requested grant funds ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 “may be used for such expenses as book purchases, speaker fees and travel, salaries, promotion, and venue rental.” Grant cost share is required and must be matched on a 1:1 basis in nonfederal dollars.

Applicants must complete two steps specific to the federal grant application process. An applicant must know its organizational DUNS number. An organization may search for or request one through Dun & Bradstreet Each applicant must also have a valid SAM (System for Awards Management) registration.

Several New Jersey libraries have received NEA Big Read awards over the last few years. Both returning and new applicants should be aware of a new application step instituted this year. As noted on the Guidelines and Application Instructions page, to start the process, an applicant must complete an online intent to apply form. After submitting the intent to apply form, an applicant will then receive a link to the full application. The application checklist (which includes a link to an offline application template in Word) will help keep applicants organized during the application process. NEA Big Read staff also developed a new “Survival Guide” to planning a community-wide reading program. The Survival Guide covers partnerships, marketing and promotion, and programming and events. Arts Midwest staff members are available to assist potential applicants by phone: (612) 238-8010 or by email:

National Endowment for the Humanities also has funding opportunities with January deadlines.

Small and mid-sized libraries with humanities collections should consider applying for a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions. Grant funds (typically up to $6,000) help institutions such as libraries, museums, and historical societies to “improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. Humanities collections may include special collections of books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, moving images, sound recordings, architectural and cartographic records, decorative and fine art objects, textiles, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, furniture, historical objects, and digital materials.”

The application will become available on November 15, 2018 and is due on January 15, 2019. Similarly to the NEA Big Read application process, National Endowment for the Humanities requires an applicant DUNS number, a valid SAM registration and, in addition, a registration. NEH staff members in the Division of Preservation and Access are available by phone: (202) 606-8570 and by email:

Finding Grant Opportunities for Libraries

US Dollars Money

At the New Jersey Library Association Conference a couple of months ago, Kate Tkacik, Director of Network Engagement at Foundation Center, spoke about a free data tool which can assist libraries in their efforts to finding funding opportunities. By exploring the Visualizing Funding for Libraries data tool, libraries can “see who is funding library projects, analyze funder and library networks, and discover natural collaborators.” You can explore library funding data through maps, charts, and pathways, and other means. The data set includes foundation funding information from 2006 to the present.

A search in the data tool on grants received by libraries in New Jersey yields a result set of 1,246 grants given to 229 recipients from 294 funders worth a total of $47.8 million.

Digging deeper into the data will provide the specific names of the funders — foundations whose interests and mission might align with your library. The Visualizing Funding data tool is a great (free and easily accessible) way to start your grant research process.

New Jersey library grant snapshot
A snapshot of foundation grant funding to New Jersey libraries (after a search in Foundation Center’s Visualizing Funding data tool)


After you’ve started your research in the Visualizing Funding data tool, you might wish to learn even more details about the grantmakers you’ve discovered. Your next step might be research into the Foundation Center’s premier database, Foundation Directory Online Professional (FDO). This database enables research through 140,000 grantmakers (including those who have funded libraries and those who haven’t) and provides detailed information on these grantmakers, including issued grants, funding interests, the application and RFP process, staff, and other details.

One thing to bear in mind: access to FDO Professional is by subscription only (unlike the Visualizing Funding data tool, which you can access from any browser). There are a number of New Jersey public libraries where you can access FDO Professional in person (but call ahead to confirm!): New Jersey State Library, Elizabeth Public Library, Hillsborough Branch of Somerset County Library System, Margaret E. Heggan Library and the Westampton headquarters of Burlington County Library System.

In addition to in-person access to Foundation Directory Online Professional, at the New Jersey State Library (at 185 West State Street in Trenton) you can also find grant writing resources in our print collection on Level Four. Business and Funding Information Librarian Leigh Clark can provide an orientation to FDO and to our grants-related collections during your visit. Contact Leigh via phone at 609-278-2640 ext. 158 or email at

Grant Opportunities with March Deadlines

Lightbulb icon

Start planning now for two grant opportunities with March deadlines! Between February 19 and March 16, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) will accept Intent to Apply forms for its next Action Grant opportunity. Submitting an Intent to Apply form is the first required step to submitting a full application for an Action Grant. March 31 is the deadline to submit an application for an Ezra Jack Keats (EJK) Mini-Grant.

What are the humanities? On its Grants FAQ Page, NJCH states, “The humanities examine shared history, culture, values, and beliefs.” Specific humanities fields include (but are certainly not limited to) anthropology, ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, history, literature, and political science.

NJCH makes awards twice per year for Incubation Grants (up to $5,000) and once per year for Action Grants ($2,000 to $20,000). See the Grants Overview section of the NJCH website for summary information about both opportunities. Action Grants “help to implement new projects or expand existing programs.” On its Action Grants page, NJCH provides some tips to writing a competitive proposal. A proposal should support one or more of the Council’s four primary goals, such as building new audiences for the humanities or bringing people of different perspectives and backgrounds together. NJCH also expects applicants to emphasize a project’s audience and the significance of the proposed project. In 2017, NJCH awarded $184,000 in Action Grants. Awarded grant projects range from public programs to exhibitions to discussion groups.

If NJCH approves an applicant’s Intent to Apply Form, NJCH will unlock the full application. Applicants are required to discuss their proposed projects with NJCH staff and they are encouraged (although not required) to submit a draft of the application in advance of the deadline. Applicants should contact Gigi Naglak, the NJCH Director of Grants and Programs at

Grantmaking to “support arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries” is one of the ways that the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation meets its mission of “bringing the multicultural, creative spirit of Keats into children’s lives and literature.” An EJK Mini-Grant in an amount up to $500 offers the “opportunity to design and implement a creative program for your school or library.” Visit the overview page of the EJK Mini-Grant program and read a description of what makes a “great” program. The Foundation website also provides examples of great Mini-Grant programs.

Potential applicants should review the page concerning how to apply and the program’s FAQs. After submitting the online application by March 31, applicants will receive notice of the status of their applications on or around May 1.


Early January Grant Deadlines

Working at the office

Don’t miss these three grant opportunities for public libraries which have early January 2018 deadlines: the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Grant, the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant, and Round Six of the ALA/Dollar General American Dream Literacy Initiative. The YALSA applications are due on January 1, 2018 and the American Dream application is due January 2, 2018.

The two YALSA opportunities particularly focus on the efforts of libraries to help prevent the “summer slide.” Individual library branches within a larger system may apply for these opportunities. Eligibility requirements include personal membership in YALSA and the library’s geographic location within 20 miles of a Dollar General store. Questions about each grant may be emailed to Taylor Crossley at

YALSA’s Summer Learning Grant will award 20 libraries $1,000 each to help them “purchase resources or provide services to bolster their teen summer learning program. The program must support teens who speak English as a second language, teens in socioeconomically challenged communities and/or teens who are at risk of failing school.” The online application includes five narrative questions requiring responses of 250 words or less, such as a description of how the grant funds will be used to meet the specific educational and recreational needs and interests of the targeted teen audience (as identified by the applicant). The application also requires a budget template (see the bottom of the link for the form) which must be completed and uploaded to the online application. See the YALSA Blog for an example of a Summer Learning Grantee in 2017, the Pemberton Community Library, a branch of the Burlington County Library System.

YALSA’s Teen Summer Intern Grant offers $1,000 to each of 20 libraries to support their hiring of summer teen interns to assist with summer reading activities. Funds can be used for intern stipends, trainings or other intern related activities. The online application includes six narrative questions requiring responses of 250 words or less, such as, “What role do you envision teen interns playing in helping to plan, implement and evaluate the summer learning program?” As the Summer Learning Grant requires, the Teen Summer Intern Grant application also requires a budget template (see the bottom of the link for the form). See the YALSA Blog for an example of a Teen Summer Learning Grantee in 2017, the Old Bridge Public Library.

The American Library Association is soliciting applications for Round Six of the American Dream Literacy Initiative grant opportunity, funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. This grant will “help public libraries in Dollar General communities add or expand literacy services for adult English language learners and/or adults in need of basic education and workforce development.” Funded libraries will receive a one-time grant of $10,000 to develop collections and services for adult learners and/or expand existing programs, add services and foster community partnerships. See the requirements and guidelines page for a link to the online application and contact information for questions about the grant program. Several New Jersey libraries were awarded grants during Round Five of the initiative.







Family Learning Program Awards

Joining hands by Jack Moreh

Does your library maintain a member profile on the National Literacy Directory (NLD)? If so, you may consider applying for the National Literacy Directory Innovation Grant Round 9. The National Literacy Directory aims to recognize “innovative literacy and education programs that are finding solutions to persistent challenges.” During this grant round, the NLD seeks program innovations involving whole families in learning. One or more successful applicants will receive awards in the amount of $1,000 each. The application due date is 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time on October 20, 2017.

Launched as a public service in 2010, the National Literacy Directory helps individuals find literacy and education programs and GED testing centers in their local areas. Over 7,000 educational agencies across the United States list their programs. The Directory lists over 130 New Jersey programs.

The application process is entirely online. Applicants should start on this page. Applicants may wish to review the grant application questions in advance of submission by accessing this pdf document. Questions may be directed to

The application requires brief answers (usually 200 words or less) to several questions, such as:

  • Briefly describe your organization and the specific program in which you applied your innovative solution.
  • Describe your innovative solution and how it involves whole families in learning.
  • What specific challenge or goal did your solution address?
  • What were the results?
  • How many students or families benefited?
  • How would you use the $1,000 grant?
  • Provide a quote or story from a participant benefiting from your innovative solution.

In addition to responding to the questions, an applicant must indicate its NLD Program ID and must also make three updates to its National Literacy Directory member listing.

This award is made possible by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Grants are announced by the National Literacy Directory periodically throughout the year and are available to programs with up-to-date member profiles listed in the Directory and to organizations that complete a free NLD profile as part of the grant application process.

Funding for English Literacy Programs

Used books

Vernon Library Supplies has announced a grant opportunity to support programs designed “to help new immigrants achieve English literacy and proficiency.” Potential applicants should review the announcement and the application guidelines. Libraries and other non-profit organizations may request up to $5,000. Applications must be submitted via email to The deadline is October 31, 2017. Awards will start to be distributed on December 1, 2017.

In their moving video describing this grant opportunity, Vernon Library Supplies’ owners, Judy and Shai Robkin, pledge to give away 100% of their 2017 operating profits.

They note their own personal experiences with immigration: hiring a number of new immigrants for Vernon Library Supplies and celebrating the earning of their U.S. citizenship. Judy Robkin also particularly mentions her father’s arrival in the United States as a teenager from Nazi Germany. He subsequently served his new country as an American soldier and pursued a college education through the benefit of the G.I. Bill.

Shai Robkin elaborated, “From our work with libraries for now well over three decades, we have seen the incredible work that libraries have done helping new Americans gain the English proficiency needed for both the workplace and the social sphere. We owe our libraries a great debt of gratitude for this and for so many other things.”

The grant guidelines detail the specific information to include in the application: principal contact and organizational information, along with a description of the proposed English literacy program for new immigrants. The program description should such items as population demographics and number of people to be served, the nature of the proposed instruction, the number of hours of instruction per student, and other descriptive information, such as personnel. The application must include a projected program budget broken out by expense categories. Applicants should project program outcomes and state performance metrics. Other necessary documentation includes organizational tax-exempt status and a statement of certification (exact wording is noted in the guidelines).


Corporate Philanthropy – Lowe’s

Pavement Bricks

Pavement BricksLowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) is now accepting applications for the Fall Cycle of its Community Partners grant program. The second of two application cycles in 2017, the Fall Cycle opened on July 3 and closes on August 25. (The 2017 Spring Cycle was open from March 20 to May 12.)

Community improvement projects funded through the Community Partners grant program are one of two main philanthropic focus areas of the LCEF. (The second focus area is public education, with priority given to K-12 public schools.)

Grant eligibility for the Community Partners program is limited to 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit organizations and public agencies in communities where Lowe’s operates stores and distribution centers. Through this grant program, Lowe’s provides monetary assistance to eligible organizations looking for support of high-need projects, such as: building renovations/upgrades, grounds improvements, technology upgrades, as well as safety improvements. Grant amounts range from $2,001 to $100,000, but generally fall between $5,000 and $25,000.

Potential applicants must first take the LCEF’s online eligibility test to confirm that the organization’s needs match with LCEF guidelines. The link to the eligibility test may be found at the bottom of this page. Grant applications are only accepted through the online system. The LCEF giving guidelines and FAQs may be found through links from this page. All applicants will be notified via email of their grant status within 90 days after the last day the grant cycle closes. Questions may be directed to Community Relations by phone: 704-758-2917 or by email:


Follow-up from Grantmakers at NJLA


MoneyWe had great attendance for the session at the New Jersey Library Association Conference on April 25, “Successfully Applying for Grants: Tips from the Source.” Many thanks to our two grantmakers, Howard Miller of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) and Gigi Naglak of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH), and to successful applicants, Michelle Willis and Pam Brooks of the Scotch Plains Public Library!

Both the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities have upcoming deadlines for grant opportunities.

Announced on April 27 and with a due date of May 30, 2017 at 12:00 Noon, the LWD’s “Adult Literacy & Community Library Partnership Program” is “designed to create and/or expand Adult Basic Education and/or English Language Proficiency services within New Jersey libraries.” Maximum grant awards will be $100,000 per application and are awarded for one year. Potential applicants may find a link to the specific grant guidelines, including applicant eligibility information, on the LWD website under the “Public Notices” tab or may go directly to the guidelines. Questions may be directed to Kelsey Williams, via phone at (609)777-1994 or

Libraries with funding needs for the early stages of humanities-based projects might consider applying for an Incubation Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. These grants enable organizations to “experiment, plan, research, prototype, and examine new programs and topics.” Up to $5,000 is awarded to successful applicants. NJCH encourages potential applicants to contact Gigi Naglak, Director of Grants and Programs before submitting the required “Intent to Apply” form, due on June 9, 2017. Gigi is available by phone at (609)695-4838 ext. 223 or Grant criteria, an overview of the grantmaking process, and budget requirements may be found on the NJCH website. Please note that full applications are due July 14 and applicants are notified by the end of September for projects that begin no earlier than October 1, 2017.

As you are considering potential funding opportunities for your library, check out this great list, “9 Ways to Make Your Grant Proposal Stand Out” from Minnesota-based consulting group, Library Strategies. (Principal Consultant, Peter Pearson, led a pre-conference workshop at the 2016 NJLA Conference.) Tips like “Do Your Research” and “Make a Good Match” are crucial first steps to any successful grant application.



Fade to Books Opportunity

DEADLINE EXTENDED for Fade to Books Grant Opportunity

The deadline for libraries to submit applications to the New Jersey State Library for the Fade to Books grant opportunity has been extended two weeks to Friday, May 19, 2017 (from the original deadline of May 5, 2017). Dates related to the processing and review of applications and awarding of grant funds remain unchanged; please see the Guidelines and the Application. Please also see the notice of the deadline extension on the New Jersey State Library website.

The Fade to Books grant opportunity is offered by the New Jersey State Library in partnership with the Long Branch Public Library and the Bridge of Books Foundation. Begun as a pilot project in Long Branch, Fade to Books recognizes the role of the barbershop as a community gathering space and the role of the barber as a mentoring figure for young men and boys.

For information about the program launched in Long Branch, please see the website of the Long Branch Public Library and this blog post by Abby Daly, Founder and Executive Director of the Bridge of Books Foundation.

Questions about the Fade to Books grant opportunity may be directed to Peggy Birdsall Cadigan, MLS, Deputy State Librarian, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, or (609)278-2640 ext. 113.


Talking about Grants at NJLA


MoneyIf you are attending the 2017 New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) Conference at Harrah’s, please stop by Wildwood 14 & 15 at 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday, April 25th for the session, “Successfully Applying for Grants: Tips from the Source.”

Two representatives of grantmaking organizations, Howard Miller of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD), and Gigi Naglak of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH), will speak about the elements of successful grant writing.

Howard Miller is the Chief of the Office of Customized and Literacy Training at LWD. He oversees the Adult Literacy & Community Library Partnership Pilot Program through which 11 libraries received grant funds. Gigi Naglak is the Director of Grants and Programs at NJCH. She runs NJCH’s competitive program which distributes $5,000 “Incubation” and up to $20,000 “Action” grants to libraries, museums, educational institutions, social service organizations, historical societies, cultural organizations, and other community organizations.

The session will also include remarks from Michelle Willis and Pamela Brooks of the Scotch Plains Public Library. They will discuss their own experiences writing successful grant applications for the library. In 2016, Scotch Plains received a $5,000 “Incubation” grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities for their Voices from the Margins: Connecting Our Stories project. Throughout this series of programs, participants have viewed films, a play, and museum exhibits, and discussed books – all works chosen for the ways they portray belonging and otherness, community, and marginalization.

Later in the day on April 25th at 3:10 P.M., Howard Miller will appear again – this time on the panel, “Meeting Workforce Development and Literacy Needs in the Library.” During this session, the speakers will provide an update on the two grant programs offered by the LWD which have helped public libraries support job seekers. Judith Loane, also of LWD, Lisa Kelly of the Long Branch Free Public Library and State Librarian Mary Chute and Andrea Levandowski of the New Jersey State Library will also appear on the panel.

“Successfully Applying for Grants: Tips from the Source” is sponsored by NJLA’s Administration & Management Section, and co-sponsored by the Diversity & Outreach Section, Member Communications Committee, Professional Development Committee and the New Jersey State Library. “Meeting Workforce Development and Literacy Needs in the Library” is sponsored by the Reference Section, the Leadership & Education Subcommittee and the New Jersey State Library. See the NJLA Conference page for the most up-to-date schedule information.