The Big Read Guidelines & Application Instructions
Application Deadline: January 28, 2014, 4:00 p.m. CST
Programming Dates: September 1, 2014—June 30, 2015
Approximately 75 organizations will be selected
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big Read provides organizations with grants and comprehensive resources that support their efforts to inspire their community to read and discuss a single book or the work of a poet. The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest.
To learn more about The Big Read, including current programming, visit www.NEABigRead.org.
The 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 or poet.
Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement. Copies of the reading selection are not provided but may be purchased with grant funds or matching resources.
Eligible organizations may apply for a grant ranging from $2,500 to $20,000. Grants must be matched 1 to 1 with nonfederal funds. Grant funds may be used for such expenses as book purchases, speaker fees and travel, salaries, advertising, and venue rental. Please see the application budget instructions for more information.
Applicants must choose one of 36 reading selections from The Big Read catalog, available at www.NEABigRead.org/books. For 2014-2015 programming, two new titles have been added: The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu and When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka.
Applicants that have received a Big Read grant in the past must select a different reading choice from their previous programming.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My Ántonia by Willa Cather
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson*
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories edited by Jorge F. Hernández
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Washington Square by Henry James
The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers*
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow*
The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
The Stories and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
True Grit by Charles Portis
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town by Thornton Wilder**
Old School by Tobias Wolff
* Poems to consider for programming are included in the Reader’s and Teacher’s Guides which are available on The Big Read website: www.NEABigRead.org/books.
** Applicants choosing Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey may include in their application plans for a production of, or programming around, Our Town. The Big Read educational materials address both the novel and the play.
Educational and promotional materials
One of the major benefits of The Big Read is the availability of high-quality educational and promotional materials for each reading selection. The Big Read educational materials are accessible on www.NEABigRead.org. Please note: printed versions of the Reader's Guides, Teacher's Guides, and Audio Guides will no longer be provided to grantees.
Educational and promotional materials for grantees to share with their communities include the following.
- Reader's Guides: containing an introduction to the featured book or poet, historical context, background of the writer, information about related works, and discussion questions.
- Spanish translations of Reader's Guides: available for In the Time of the Butterflies; Bless Me, Ultima; Fahrenheit 451; The Maltese Falcon; Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Call of the Wild; The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe; The Grapes of Wrath; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; and Into the Beautiful North.
- Teacher's Guides: containing lesson plans and other resources for use by educators.
- Audio Guides: 20 to 30-minute programs about the book or poet featuring interviews with and readings by notable literary and public figures.
- Logos, caricature art, and posters for promotional and marketing purposes.
The following promotional materials are provided in print at no charge:
- Three full-color Big Read banners.
- Official Big Read bookmarks.
Successful Big Read programming should facilitate and encourage reading and discussion of the selected book or poet. In addition, through effective partnerships, organizations should supplement book-based programming with creative and engaging community activities that reach and engage people of diverse ages, cultural backgrounds, educational levels, and occupations.
Programming for The Big Read must include the following:
- Events and literary activities
- A kick-off event to launch the program locally.
- A minimum of 10 discussions on the book or poet (e.g., book clubs, school group discussions, etc.).
- At least one keynote session on the selected book or poet (e.g., lecture by a key biographer or scholar, panel discussion, or author reading).
- A minimum of two special events involving other forms of artistic programming (e.g., art exhibits related to the themes of the book or poet; music or dance events; film series including adaptations of the book; or theatrical readings).
Note: Event types may be combined (e.g., a kick-off event can include a keynote session).
- Community partnerships
Applicant organizations must partner with a library (if the applicant itself is not a library). Partnerships are encouraged with middle and/or high schools, working with teachers, curriculum specialists, or school librarians. Partnerships are also encouraged with community organizations such as bookstores, museums, arts organizations, local businesses, community service organizations, community centers, youth groups, senior centers, correctional institutions, community colleges, universities, social service organizations, and military installations.
- Promotional partnerships and efforts
In order to ensure strong community participation in Big Read activities, organizations should actively promote their Big Read programming and generate media involvement through partnerships with local TV, radio, print, and social media outlets and through other public relations efforts.
Additional grant requirements
All organizations receiving a Big Read grant must:
- Conduct activities between September 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
- Call their program The Big Read.
- Match the grant request at least 1 to 1. The match must consist of non-federal funds or in-kind services and materials, or any combination thereof. For example, if you request a $5,000 grant, your total project costs must be at least $10,000 and you must provide at least $5,000 toward the project from non-federal sources. Provision of matching funds in excess of the required 1 to 1 ratio is acceptable and encouraged. Please refer to the application budget instructions for more information.
- Participate in an online orientation with other Big Read program participants in June 2014.
- Use and distribute the educational materials.
- Provide information to be posted on The Big Read website, www.NEABigRead.org
- Comply with all crediting requirements. This includes consistent crediting of The Big Read, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest, and any additional sponsors.
- Comply with all reporting requirements. Organizations will be required to submit event listings before, during and after their community activities. Grantees will be required to submit a final report with statistics and a narrative about their programming following its conclusion.
- Work closely with the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest.
- Comply with all federal granting regulations, including providing organizational audit information if required by federal law.
- As necessary, seek legal permissions for activities and promotional materials.
Applicant organizations must:
- Be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; a division of state, local, or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library. Eligible applicants include organizations such as literary centers, libraries, museums, colleges and universities, art centers, historical societies, arts councils, tribal governments, humanities councils, literary festivals, and arts organizations.
- Partner with a library (if the applicant organization itself is not a library).
- Select one of the 36 available reading choices. Applicants that have received a Big Read grant in the past must select a different reading choice from their previous programming.
- Have a DUNS number and be registered with the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM) in order to receive federal funds. Registration is free for both DUNS and SAM but takes time to complete.
Note: K–12 schools, school districts, boards of education, or other school governing bodies, whether public or private, are not eligible applicants, but may partner with eligible applicants.
Selection Process and Review Criteria
Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected to participate in The Big Read. Organizations may apply for one grant per year. Selections and grant awards will be based on the artistic excellence and merit of the program. Specifically, applications will be evaluated based on the following review criteria:
- Overall strength and breadth of literary programming, including efforts to encourage community members to read the selected title, activities that reflect a literary focus, and diverse and imaginative events that will reach various audiences in the applicant's community.
- Relevance and depth of involvement with community partner organizations that will broaden community participation and enrich programming. Examples of such partners are libraries, middle and/or high schools, bookstores, museums, arts organizations, local businesses, community service organizations, community centers, youth groups, senior centers, correctional institutions, community colleges, universities, social service organizations, and military installations.
- Active promotion of The Big Read including distribution of educational and promotional materials; media involvement through partnerships with local radio, print, TV, and social media outlets; and through other public relations/marketing efforts.
- Capacity to manage and implement the proposed Big Read programming including the provision of appropriate personnel, meeting the minimum programming requirements, and providing the required 1 to 1 match.
Applications are reviewed by an advisory panel composed of a diverse group of arts and literature experts and other individuals with broad knowledge of programs like The Big Read. Panel composition changes annually.
If selected, you will be expected to carry out a Big Read consistent with your proposal. If changes are necessary, you will need to work with The Big Read staff to adjust your project.
||January 28, 2014
|Notification of selected communities
||September 1, 2014—June 30, 2015
How to Apply
To apply for The Big Read you must submit an application online at: http://artsmidwestbigread.eGrant.net.
You will be asked to address the following items in your application. Please download the response forms, complete them, and upload to eGrant. Please use 11 point Times New Roman font for your responses. Other formats, documents, or additional pages will not be accepted. Be as specific as possible for each response.
(Note: these application requirements have changed from previous applications. Please read thoroughly.)
- Organization description:
Describe your organization and state its mission. Explain how The Big Read fits into your principal activities. Describe the population you serve within your community. Describe any past programming that demonstrates your ability to develop and manage a successful Big Read program. (1 page limit; download the response form above)
- Project description:
- Describe your programming plans in detail. Include the types of activities, target audiences, locations, timeframes, and number. (1 page limit; download the response form above)
- Describe your partnerships with libraries, middle and/or high schools, and community organizations as applicable. Explain the role each partner will play in your Big Read, the activities each partner will undertake with your organization, and whether these partnerships are confirmed or pending. Explain how your partnerships will allow you to reach your intended audience(s) and any additional outreach to that audience. (1 page limit; download the response form above)
- Describe how you will promote your Big Read programming. Discuss any proposed or existing partnerships with specific media outlets. (1/2 page limit; download the response form above)
- Explain how your program will utilize the digital educational materials and, should you choose to purchase them, copies of your reading selection. (1/2 page limit; download the response form above)
Please be as thorough and complete in your project description as possible. It is difficult for panelists to assess your program without information on specific activities, partners, venues, etc. However, we recognize that your application represents a proposal and some elements may be tentative.
- Staffing roles and participation description:
Outline the staff and/or volunteers who will plan and implement The Big Read, including their titles, roles and responsibilities, and experience or capacity for managing this program. Include partner organizations' staff involvement as applicable. (1 page limit; download the response form above)
- Two-page program budget:
Represent all anticipated expenses and revenue necessary to fully implement the program plans proposed, including planning, programming, and reporting. Be sure to represent your 1 to 1 match for the program in both the revenues and expenses. Use the application budget instructions to complete the budget form (2 page limit; download the form above).
- Letters of support:
Include up to two one-page letters of support.
- Library applicants: one letter must be from a key partner.
- All other applicants: one letter must be from your library partner.
Letters must be on organization letterhead and submitted in PDF format. Please use 11 point type, single-spacing, 1 inch margins on all sides.
- Proof of your organization's federal tax-exempt status, consisting of either:
- Copy of your organization's federal tax-exempt ruling under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
- Documentation indicating that your organization is a division of state, local, or tribal government.
State sales tax-exemption certificates and copies of ordinances or bylaws are not qualified documents.
Download a sample letter from the IRS verifying an organization's 501(c)(3) federal tax exempt status. If you need assistance to identify the correct documentation, please call Arts Midwest or check with your finance department.
All applications must be submitted electronically via eGrant on or before 4:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
If you have any questions regarding the guidelines, application process, or need technical assistance, please call Arts Midwest Big Read program staff at 612.238.8010 or email TheBigRead@artsmidwest.org.