Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Challenge America

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Tribes, and Agencies
for Arts Activities in Underserved Communities

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

Add to My Calendar 

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Deadline Date:

04/11/19 11:59 PM ET


Request a Grant Writer

Grants of $10,000 to USA nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and tribes to increase the availability of arts opportunities for underserved populations. Applications are invited for projects that promote public engagement with various forms of arts programming that emphasize the potential of the arts in community development.

The Challenge America category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations - those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Age alone (e.g., youth, seniors) does not qualify a group as underserved; at least one of the underserved characteristics noted above also must be present.

Challenge America Grants:
-Extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations.
-Are limited to the specific types of projects outlined below.

Partnerships can be valuable to the success of these projects. While not required, applicants are encouraged to consider partnerships among organizations, both in and outside of the arts, as an appropriate way to engage with the identified underserved audience.

The Projects category supports focused, distinct projects that take place over limited periods of time and involve limited geographic areas. All projects must extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. The involvement of experienced artists and arts professionals is essential. Each applicant must present a straightforward project that reflects only one of the three project types below. Grants are available only for:

- Guest Artist project type refers to an arts event or events that will feature one or more guest artists.
- Collaborative Marketing Campaigns which may include unified promotion projects and/or cultural tourism projects incorporating the offerings of multiple institutions.
- Public Art Projects, community-based and professionally directed.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178794

Estimated Size of Grant:

All grants are for $10,000.

Term of Contract:

- Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance: January 1, 2020
- Grants awarded under these guidelines generally may cover a period of performance of up to two years. 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:

Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes may apply. Applicants may be arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies (school districts), and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the National Endowment for the Arts.

To be eligible, the applicant organization must: 
-Meet the National Endowment for the Arts’ "Legal Requirements" including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application. (All organizations must apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal agent are not allowed. See more information on fiscal sponsors.)
-Have a three-year history of arts programming prior to the application deadline.
-Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all National Endowment for the Arts grant(s) previously received.

An organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources (financial, human, or other) to an affiliated organization is not eligible to apply if the affiliated organization submits its own application. This prohibition applies even if each organization has its own 501(c)(3) status. 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. 

The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) are not eligible to apply under the Challenge America guidelines. SAAs and RAOs may serve as partners in projects. However, they may not receive NEA funds (except as provided through their designated grant programs), and SAA/RAO costs may not be included as part of the required match. SAAs and RAOs are eligible to apply through the Partnership Agreements guidelines.

NEA provides support for projects featuring Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian arts across all NEA disciplines.

Application Limits:

If an organization applies to the Challenge America category, it may not submit another application to the Art Works category. You may apply to other National Endowment for the Arts funding opportunities, including Our Town, in addition to Challenge America. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project or a distinctly different phase of the same project, with a different period of performance and costs.

An organization that has received Challenge America grants in FY 2017, 2018, and 2019 may not apply for a Challenge America grant under these FY 2020 guidelines. That organization may apply for FY 2020 support under other National Endowment for the Arts funding opportunities including Art Works.

For this category, exceptions to the one-application rule are made only for parent organizations that have separately identifiable and independent components; this includes city or county governments. A parent organization that comprises separately identifiable and independent components (e.g., a university campus that has a presenting organization and a radio station) may submit an application for each such component. In addition, a parent organization also may submit one application on its own behalf for a distinctly different project. The parent organization must meet the eligibility requirements for all applicants. NOTE: A related organization that performs grant administration duties for a parent organization (e.g., a college foundation that administers grants awarded to a college and its components) may submit applications for components and the parent organization in lieu of such applications being submitted by the parent. The related organization must meet the eligibility requirements for all applicants.

An independent component must be a unit that is both programmatically and administratively distinct from the parent organization, have its own staff and budget, and generally have an independent board that has substantial responsibility for oversight and management. To qualify as independent, a component should be equivalent to a stand-alone institution with a separate mission.

The following do not qualify as independent components:
- Academic departments of colleges and universities.
- Programs and projects of organizations.

A parent organization should consult with the Fund's staff to verify the eligibility of its component before preparing an application.

Under these guidelines, funding is not available for:
-Direct grants to individuals. (NEA encourages applicant organizations to involve individual artists in all possible ways.)
-Awards to individuals or organizations to honor or recognize achievement.
-General operating or seasonal support.
-Cash reserves and endowments.
-Costs for the creation of new organizations.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-Projects that replace arts instruction provided by an arts specialist.
-Generally, courses in degree-granting institutions.
-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. For further information,
-Project costs supported by any other federal funding. This includes federal funding received either directly from a federal agency (e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities, Housing and Urban Development, 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.
-Activities that occur over an extended period (e.g., projects that span a full season, long-term residencies, most large-scale projects).
-Competitions other than design competitions.
-Projects that involve curriculum-based instruction in the arts.
-Subgranting or regranting.
-The same organization (parent or component) for more than three consecutive years, even if for different projects.
-Social activities such as receptions, parties, galas.
-Alcoholic beverages.
-Contributions and donations to other entities.
-Gifts and prizes, including cash prizes as well as other items (e.g., iPads, gift certificates) with monetary value.
-General miscellaneous or contingency costs.
-Fines and penalties, bad debt costs, deficit reduction.
-Lobbying, including activities intended to influence the outcome of elections or influence government officials regarding pending legislation, either directly or through specific lobbying appeals to the public.
- Voter registration drives and related activities.
-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.
-Costs incurred before the beginning or after the completion of the official period of performance.

Pre-Application Information:

Grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. For example, if an organization receives a $10,000 grant, the total eligible project costs must be at least $20,000 and the organization must provide at least $10,000 toward the project from nonfederal sources.

Any planning costs that are included as part of the project must be incurred during the established period of performance. No pre-award costs are allowable in the Project Budget. Project costs that are incurred before the "Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance" will be removed from the Project Budget.

Application Calendar:
-Part 1 - Submit to April 11, 2019
-Part 2 - Submit Materials to Applicant Portal: April 16-23, 2019
- Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection: Dec. 2019
-Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance: January 1, 2020

Note: To allow time to resolve any problems you might encounter, we strongly recommend that you register/renew your registration by at least March 20, 2019 and submit to by at least April 2, 2019.

How to Prepare and Submit an Application:

Submit to

Submit to Applicant Portal:


NEA Online Tutorial:

Sample Application Narratives:

Public Art Resources:


Link to grant on

Contact Information:

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

Application portal:

Challenge America Specialists:

National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


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