American Creed

American Creed: Community Conversations Library Programming Grant Guidelines

Date Posted: Monday, September 24, 2018
Deadline for Submission: Monday, November 19, 2018
Award Notification Date: Friday, December 14, 2018
Watch the American Creed documentary online
Note that all libraries that submit a completed application—regardless of their grant award status—may receive a high quality, projection-ready download of the film, with limited Public Performance Rights (PPR) granted by Citizen Film. Unsuccessful applicants will be invited to receive this download and must agree to submit basic information about screening(s) to Citizen Film as a condition of receipt.


  • Read the grant FAQ and carefully review the requirements in each category before applying.
  • Contact the American Library Association (ALA) staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Table of Contents

  1. Program Description
  2. Award Information
  3. Eligibility
  4. Requirements
  5. Application and Submission Information
  6. Application Review
  7. Award Administration Information
  8. Points of Contact

Program Description

In partnership with Citizen Film, the National Writing Project, and Citizen University, the American Library Association (ALA) is offering a library programming grant for American Creed: Community Conversations, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Project themes and goals

Co-produced by Citizen Film & WTTW - Chicago Public Media, American Creed is a PBS documentary constructed around a seminar-style conversation co-led by the renowned historian David M. Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of best-selling books about American history; and his Stanford University colleague, the political scientist and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Fully acknowledging their differences in political outlook, Kennedy and Rice recognize that "a unifying sense of American democratic ideals and identity is fragile." Their dialogue throughout the film interprets different kinds of American civic activism and models the exemplary, respectful dialogue that American Creed: Community Conversations seeks to support in public libraries around the country.

American Creed offers a cornerstone from which public libraries are invited to develop local program series that encourage humanities-based exploration of our beliefs about American ideals and identity.

Through a diverse range of events and activities, participating libraries will engage their unique communities with questions of economic development, job security, education, immigration, ethnicity, social mobility and class in the light of stories presented in the film. In addition to screening and discussion events led by public humanities scholars, other programs will focus on local challenges as they relate to national and local history, ideals, and the evolving interpretation of those ideals. To review a list of eligible program examples, visit the Resources section of this website.

Applicant libraries are encouraged to plan programs informed by American Creed that explore the following questions:

  • Who gets to define the "American Creed" and who gets to define "we the people"?
  • Who gets to be counted as "American" and why?
  • What happens to the idea of a shared American creed when social mobility declines along with trust in American institutions?
  • How are American ideals interpreted in different communities with different histories?
  • How significant is the process of "Americanization" over generations?
  • How do economic booms and busts shape ideals and disconnect from ideals?
  • How does participation in wars shape ideals and disconnect from ideals?
  • What is civic engagement? What is its history?
  • How can we make a difference to our immediate community?
  • How have communities come together to make a difference in the past?
  • What is the interplay between local civic engagement and engagement with the sprawling community that is the United States?

American Creed: Community Conversations will support events in public libraries—trusted institutions that value intellectual freedom, welcome diverse viewpoints, and seek to serve the public good—that explore how community and family histories can color how we think about American ideals. The goal of the project is to build "shared understanding of America's civic inheritance" seeking—rather than less partisanship—"better partisanship, by a more engaged and informed citizenry ... by partisans who are willing to engage with people who think and feel differently."

As with all programs funded by NEH, discussions organized as part of American Creed: Community Conversations should be characterized by an ethos of openness and respect, upholding the basic norms of civil discourse. Specifically, they should be conducted without partisan advocacy; respectful of divergent views; free of ad hominem commentary; and devoid of ethnic, religious, gender, or racial bias.

NEH does not fund programs designed to persuade audiences of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view, or projects that advocate a particular program of social or political action.

Award Information

ALA and its American Creed partners will select up to fifty (50) public libraries to receive an American Creed: Community Conversations grant. Selected libraries will use the grant resources to support events and activities that engage patrons with the idea of a unifying American creed, especially in relation to local history, challenges and opportunities. All programs must take place during the grant term, January—August 2019.

Benefits for Award Recipients

American Creed: Community Conversations library grantees will receive:

  • A DVD of the American Creed documentary for the library’s circulating collection. Successful applicants within a public library system may also request additional copies to distribute to other branches within the system.
  • Access to a high quality, projection-ready download of the film, with public performance rights (PPR) included for two-year term. PPR will cover screenings in the applicant library, as well as those hosted by branch libraries within the system, if applicable.
  • Printed promotional materials (posters, bookmarks, postcards) for use in local library marketing efforts and other
  • Digital assets (e.g., logos, web banner, clips, template PR materials)
  • Access to a library programming guide, which will include resources for planning and hosting public screenings, sample discussion points for community conversations, suggested reading lists to support expanded engagement and programming, writing and reflection prompts, and more
  • Inclusion in a training webinar for public programmers and scholars, created by the American Creed: Community Conversations Design Team (Facing History and Ourselves, National Writing Project, scholarly advisers), which is scheduled for December 28, 2018 and will be archived.
  • A $300 stipend to support speaker fees for an eligible public humanities scholar (selected by the library) to moderate a screening and discussion event, OR access to a representative from the National Writing Project who will be matched with the library and serve as a program presenter and moderator.


All public libraries in the U.S. and U.S. territories are eligible to apply.


All institutions that receive the programming kit must meet the following program requirements:

  • Implement at least three public programs that explore the themes and humanities questions featured in American Creed, between January—August 2019. One event must be a screening of the documentary film.
  • Work with a public humanities scholar and/or a representative from the National Writing Project to introduce the documentary and facilitate a community discussion following the screening.
  • Recruit a community partner organization for local programming and marketing collaboration. ALA especially encourages local partnerships with PBS member stations and/or National Writing Project sites. Other partner organization may include high schools, community colleges, universities, religious or interfaith groups, and/or civic organizations.
  • Appoint one staff member as the project director (local coordinator) of the project.
  • Promote related programs to the widest possible public audience.
  • Provide a final impact report form specifying audience reach to ALA by the December 31, 2018 deadline.

Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for American Creed: Community Conversations grants September 24—November 19, 2018.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to

To apply for American Creed: Community Conversations, you must complete the following steps:

  • REGISTER for an account on our Surveymonkey Apply site (note that this is a new application system)
  • LOG IN (if you have already registered when applying for a recent project)
  • Using the table structure provided, include details about each program, event, or other activity described in your proposal

1. Register

Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account, OR

2. Log In

If you have already registered on our Surveymonkey Apply site when applying for a Great Stories Club grant or PLA Leadership Academy, you may log in using your email address and password.

3. Complete Project Director Information

Note: The project director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the American Creed: Community Conversations program series at the library. He/she/they will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

To complete this step, provide all the information that is requested on the Project Director Information screen. You must then save the information.

After clicking the "SAVE" button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in using your email address and password. This will allow you to edit, save and return to your application as needed prior to the November 19, 2018, submission deadline.

4. Complete Speaker/Facilitator Information

Libraries that receive an American Creed: Community Conversations grant must work with either a public humanities scholar or a representative from the National Writing Project to facilitate a screening and discussion of the American Creed documentary.

Applicants may complete contact information for the individual selected for their library's program in this section and upload the individual's résumé in the area for supporting documents. Applicants that complete this section and are selected for a grant will receive a $300 programming stipend to cover presenter fees.

If you are not able to identify a humanities scholar or National Writing Project representative to work with your program, please indicate that in the designated area. If selected to receive a grant, ALA will find an eligible speaker for your screening and discussion event.

5. Write Proposal Narrative

Before you compose the narrative section of this proposal, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your proposal is unlikely to be competitive.

Please answer each narrative section, describing your plans for hosting American Creed: Community Conversations programming at your library. The proposal narrative consists of six sections (described immediately below). Please note that each section of the narrative may not exceed 500 words.

The narrative sections are as follows.

  1. Please tell us why you are interested in applying for an American Creed: Community Conversations grant. Include why you believe the project's themes will be meaningful to the individuals who participate in your programs, describe your community's interests and demographics, and tell us about what you hope to achieve for your library and your participants during the grant term. How will the civic life of your community benefit from engagement with the programs you're planning?
  2. Please state a primary goal for your institution/community for this project.
  3. Tell us about the community partner(s) that your library will work with. Be sure to describe the work that the organization does, why you have chosen to work with them, the history of the partnership, and anything else that will convey how you will work together on American Creed programming. If you will work with more than one community partner, please describe.
  4. Describe your plans to host a scholar-led viewing and discussion program featuring American Creed. Be sure to include relevant information about what format your program will take, including length and key topics that will be explored during discussion; how you will promote the event; anticipated attendance; location of the screening if other than the public library; the humanities scholar's or NWP speaker's background, including discipline and highest degree obtained (if you've identified a speaker and are applying for a programming stipend); and any evaluation plans for the event.
  5. Describe your plans to host at least two additional American Creed: Community Conversations programs. Provide as much information as possible about your program format(s); how each program relates to your overall goals; any speakers, presenters, or panelists; any content that will be explored (e.g., book titles, additional film titles); and how the related content was selected.
  6. How will you evaluate your American Creed: Community Conversations program series, and sustain your work encouraging civic engagement in your community? Grantees will be required to submit a final report to ALA, describing how programs went, recording attendance information, and offering other details about activity during the grant term. Below, please tell us how you will keep track of this basic information, evaluate your institution's work on the project overall, and maintain key relationships with community partners in the future.

6. Complete the Program Schedule

Using the table generator provided in the online application, provide a schedule of the programs, events, and other activities described in your proposal. As applicable, please indicate the date, time, location, event type/format, brief description, anticipated attendance, and speaker(s) for each program that will be hosted during your series. Note that at least three programs or events which will be promoted to a broad public audience must be listed to meet eligibility requirements. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to adjust programming schedules in 2019.


03/01/19; 7:00 p.m.; Main Street Public Library auditorium; Screening/discussion event; American Creed; 125; David M. Kennedy, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford University

7. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host an American Creed: Community Conversations grant is an application for an award from the ALA, using funding provided by the NEH, an agency of the federal government. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the organization.

To complete this section, you must enter all of the information that is requested.

8. Mark Your Application as Complete

When you are satisfied with your answers, use the buttons at the bottom to mark your application as complete, and move on to the file uploads. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CDT on November 19, 2018. Applications submitted after that time will not be considered.

Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review.

You will receive an email confirming submission of your application. At the confirmation page, you will be able to print out a copy of your application. Print and keep this copy for your records.

9. Upload Supporting Documents

  • Résumé(s): Upload a résumé for the library project director. If you are applying for a $300 programming stipend, also upload the résumé for the humanities scholar or NWP representative who will facilitate your viewing and discussion program.
  • Letters of Commitment and Support (optional): Upload letter(s) of commitment from your library's administration, community partner organization, and/or any speakers/presenters. This section is optional.

VI. Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • The overall vision for the program series. How does this project relate to your community and your institution's previous public programs? How will it contribute to the community's civic and cultural life?
  • Clarity and completeness of the application. Has the applicant supplied all required information, including all sections of the proposal narrative and the programming schedule? Are plans and ideas for programs described clearly?
  • Qualifications of the local project scholar(s). The local project scholar should have a Ph.D. or another advanced degree in U.S. History, American Studies, or another relevant humanities subject. The individual's experience should include teaching this subject at a college or university, and ideally, presenting programs for out-of-school adults. If the library has selected a representative from the National Writing Project to serve as the project scholar, that individual's background and experience should also be a good match for the project.
  • Quality of proposed programs, marketing and outreach plans. Likelihood that the project will engage broad public audiences with the questions presented in the American Creed documentary.
  • Appropriateness and strength of proposed community partnership(s). Applications from libraries that will work with a PBS member station, NWP site, university, or public high school are especially encouraged.

Other factors that may influence the final selection of libraries include the following:

  • Location of the sites. The selection committee would like programs to take place in all regions of the country.
  • Size and demographics of the community. The selection committee seeks a mix of communities of different sizes and varied demographics.

Applicants are encouraged to address questions about the selection guidelines, process and requirements to the ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Review and Selection Process

Each application will be peer reviewed by a panel of librarians, as well as reviewed by project staff of ALA and Citizen Film. ALA's Public Programs Office and Citizen Film will make the final decisions.

VII. Award Administration Information

Application deadline: November 19, 2018, 11:59 pm (CDT)
Award notification: December 14, 2018
Programming Period: January 1 — August 31, 2019
Final Report Due: September 30, 2019

VIII. Points of Contact

If you have questions, contact:

Public Programs Office
American Library Association
1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045

American Creed Production Credits:

Co-produced by WTTW & Citizen Film. Senior Executive Producer: Randy Bean. Executive Producer: Dan Soles. Producer: Kate Stilley Steiner. Directed, Written & Produced by Sam Ball.

About Citizen Film:

Citizen Film is a not-for-profit production company dedicated to crafting documentaries with care and dignity. We collaborate with cultural institutions, community organizations and independent producers to create films and online media that foster active engagement in cultural and civic life.