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Challenge America offers support primarily to small organizations for projects in all artistic disciplines that extend the reach of the arts to groups/communities with rich and dynamic artistic and cultural contributions to share that are underserved. The program is rooted in principles that include, but are not limited to, our recognition that:
Challenge America seeks to address these potential barriers for organizations seeking funding. The program features an abbreviated application, a standardized $10,000 grant amount, and a robust structure of technical assistance to facilitate entry to NEA funding opportunities. This category may be a good entry point for organizations that are new to applying for federal funding.
First-time applicants to the NEA, as well as previous NEA applicants who have not been recommended for funding in any of the three most recent Fiscal Years (FYs 2021, 2022, or 2023) in any of the following grant programs, are eligible to apply:
Previous NEA applicants recommended for funding in Grants for Arts Projects, Research Grants in the Arts, or Our Town FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023 are not eligible to apply.
Previous Challenge America, American Rescue Plan (ARP), and CARES Act applicants and grantees are eligible to apply, as long as they were not recommended for FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023 funding in Grants for Arts Projects, Research Grants in the Arts, or Our Town.
See Applicant Eligibility for more information.
Challenge America supports arts projects in all artistic disciplines, including Artist Communities, Arts Education, Dance, Design, Folk & Traditional Arts, Literary Arts, Local Arts Agencies, Media Arts, Museums, Music, Musical Theater, Opera, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Arts, Theater, and Visual Arts.
Projects must extend the reach of the arts to groups/communities with rich and dynamic cultural identities that are underserved. Possible projects include, but are not limited to: arts programming, including commissioning or presentation of artists or artwork; marketing and promotional activities; and organizational planning. Projects may consist of one or more specific events or activities, and should not cover all of your programming for a season. We do not support seasonal or general operating support.
Carefully read the application Review Criteria and address those criteria in the application.
What do we mean by underserved groups/communities?
The term “underserved,” as defined by our legislation and agency policy, refers to those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited relative to: geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. At least one of these characteristics must be evident in the proposed project. Age alone (e.g., youth, seniors) does not qualify a group as underserved.
As applicable, engagement with the following constituencies is encouraged (in accordance with White House Executive Orders), including but not limited to:
Projects may focus on reaching a particular group or demographic; however, they may not be exclusionary under Federal civil rights laws and policies prohibiting discrimination. This extends to hiring practices, artist selection processes, and audience engagement. For additional information, refer to this archived webinar: Things to Know Before You Apply: Federal Civil Rights and Your Grants Application.
To view examples of the types of projects we have previously funded, visit our Recent Grants Search tool.
Visit https://www.arts.gov/grants/challenge-america/program-description for more information.