Founding Era

Revisiting the Founding Era

Date Posted: December 15, 2017

Deadline for Submission: February 7, 2018 by 11:59 pm (Central)

Award Notification Date: March 7, 2018


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

I. Program Description
II. Award Information
III. Eligibility
IV. Requirements
V. Application and Submission Information
VI. Application Review
VII. Award Administration Information
VIII. Points of Contact

I. Program Description

ALA is partnering with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (GLI) to encourage public libraries to apply for Revising the Founding Era, a project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The primary goal of the project is to encourage an appreciation of the Founding Era through community conversation based on historical documents and themes of enduring importance. Revisiting the Founding Era will provide primary sources and other materials to help librarians and community leaders become familiar with the people, events, and ideas of the Founding Era as well as provide them with the means to explore modern issues in light of Founding Era history in community conversations.

II. Award Information

Gilder Lehrman Institute (GLI) and ALA will select 100 public libraries nationwide to host programs related to the Founding Era.

Benefits for Award Recipients
  1. A $1000 stipend to support costs associated with implementing programs.
  2. 10 copies of a 100-page reader, with selected primary source documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection in print and digital formats.
  3. Professional development training webinar coordinated by GLI and ALA, to give librarians the tools needed for successful programs.
  4. Access to a public-facing website with the 100-page reader in downloadable PDF format, videos, additional primary sources, and links to materials on the GLI website.
  5. A site support notebook, developed by GLI, with programming ideas, instructions for how to connect with humanities scholars, further reading, etc.
  6. Downloadable and customizable marketing and promotional materials to invite participation in your local programs.
  7. Programming support from the GLI team throughout the grant term.

III. Eligibility

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

IV. Requirements

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

  • Implement at least three programs from either Track A or Track B (learn more below ) during your assigned programming period (approximately 4 months long).
  • Appoint one staff member as the project director (local coordinator and main point of contact) of the project.
  • Promote your programs to the widest possible public audience.
  • Provide a final impact report form via ALA’s application site within 30 days of the end of your program period.

Revisiting the Founding Era offers two different programming tracks. Each track requires sites to host three programs, and one of the programs must be oriented towards high school and/or middle school students. Each track offers different types of programming, and sites can choose their track based on their community’s resources and interests. We encourage sites to partner with other organizations during their programs, including their state Humanities Council.

Track A

Track A will consist of three public programs of different formats. The host site is responsible for identifying and working with scholars and other local partners, organizations, agencies, and groups that have an interest in the subject. In recognition of the fact that many libraries may not have access to a college or university scholar, the scholar designation will be left to the discretion of the programming librarian, in consultation with the Gilder Lehrman project staff. The programming formats include:

  • An opening Town Hall discussion that will serve as an introduction to the Revisiting the Founding Era program as a whole and focus on one of the humanities themes. The panel will be moderated by the scholar, local expert or programming librarian, who will guide the conversation through the chosen primary source documents and the humanities theme. The moderator will also pose the guiding thematic questions to the panelists and field questions from the audience.

    This discussion will be modeled on the NCC Town Hall in January, but should be scaled based on community interests and available resources. The panel should feature community leaders, including but not limited to local scholars, historians, teachers, city officials, legal professionals, and clergy members. The Town Hall will consist of two components:

    a) a moderated panel discussion about the program’s humanities themes, selected documents, and guiding questions.

    b) a robust Q&A session in which all audience members are encouraged to engage with the panel members about the Founding Era issues that most resonate with them today.

  • A youth-focused program led by local high school and/or middle school students and teachers/mentors. This program aims to engage students through a discussion of the humanities themes and documents that matter most to them as tomorrow’s leaders. To best reach students, sites will collaborate with a school liaison, local youth organizer or mentor named in their application to mold the program to best fit their youth community.

    The format of this program will be flexible in recognition of local librarian and teacher familiarity with students. Librarians are encouraged to design the program to be responsive to their young community in order to attract, engage, and embolden students in discussion.

  • A moderated discussion led by a local scholar or other qualified community leader, potentially the same lead who moderated the Town Hall panel. This program will reach participants on a more informal and personal level. The moderated discussion will focus on one of the humanities themes from the reader and its accompanying documents and questions. The moderator will read passages chosen from the 100-page reader and ask the guiding questions to engage the participants. It is likely that many will find one or two themes the most important to their community.

Track B

Track B will consist of a three-part reading and discussion series modeled on the ALA’s Let’s Talk About It program . The program model involves reading a common series of books or documents (in this case, the 100-page reader), and discussing them in the context of larger, overarching themes. At least one of the events must be youth-oriented and sites must coordinate the youth program with their School Liaison.

During each meeting of the reading and discussion series, the group discusses selections they have all read. A local scholar, librarian, teacher, or qualified community member opens and leads the program, bringing the documents to life, provoking the group’s curiosity with insights and background on the author and the document. At the same time, the program leader relates the reading to the theme, raising questions and sparking discussion. The audience then breaks into smaller groups to talk about the document, share ideas, and raise more questions. The larger group reconvenes for a final discussion and closing comments. One of the programs must be planned in collaboration with a school liaison, local youth organizer or mentor, and be geared towards high school and/or middle school students.

V. Application and Submission Information

We will accept applications for Revisiting the Founding Era between December 15, 2017 – February 7, 2018.

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

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to .

To apply for the Revising the Founding Era program award, you must complete the following steps:

  • REGISTER to (if you have not previously registered when applying for a different ALA project)
  • LOG IN (if you have already registered when applying for a different ALA project)

1. Register

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


2. Log In

If you have already registered when applying for another ALA Public Programs Office grant project, you may log in using your e-mail address and password.

3. Complete Project Coordinator Information

Note: The project coordinator is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the Revising the Founding Era 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 Coordinator 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 e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save and return to your application as needed prior to the February 7, 2018 submission deadline.

4. Write Proposal Narratives

Before you compose the narrative part of this application, we strongly recommend that you review these guidelines carefully, review the reader sample and prepare your answers before filling in the application fields.

Please note your answers to each question may not exceed 600 words. The questions are:

  1. Describe why your institution would like to participate in this project, including community interests and demographics, key themes from Revisiting the Founding Era that you intend to explore, and why the cultural life of your community would benefit from examining Founding Era history. Please state three primary goals for your institution/community for this project.
  2. Describe your community and comment on the general interest and knowledge of the Founding Era in your community. What contemporary issues are important in your community, and how could a dialog about and examination of Founding Era history be connected to these issues?
  3. Summarize your organization’s commitment to and history of adult programming and teen programming for public audiences. Please provide specific examples of program successes, and any local organizations you partnered with to make your programs successful.
  4. Do you plan to offer programming from Track A or Track B ? Please include a description of the programs you plan to offer, including any specific local scholars and speakers or humanities themes to be discussed.
  5. Both Track A and Track B require a youth-oriented program. Program details are flexible in nature so that each library can design a program specific to their youth community. Please name a school or local youth organization, and a school contact, local youth organizer or mentor, who will partner with you on this program, as well as what you imagine this program will look like and how it ties to the Reader .
  6. We encourage sites to partner with other local institutions. Do you plan to do so, and if so, how? Who are some additional local partners you plan to work with?

5. Indicate Program Schedule Preferences

You will have an opportunity to tell us when you prefer to implement the required programs at your library. The choices are:

Round One: 6/1/18 - 9/30/18 Round Two: 12/1/18 - 3/31/19 Round Three: 6/1/19 - 9/30/19 Round Four: 12/1/19 - 3/31/20

6. Upload Supporting Materials

You will need to upload the vita or biography of the local project scholar(s)/speaker(s) and a letter of commitment. Letters of support from other local partners may be submitted here as well.

7. Publicity Feedback

This voluntary information will help us understand how our marketing efforts are working.

8. Certify Authorization

An application for the Revising the Founding Era opportunity is an application for a subaward from the National Endowment for the Humanities – a federal entity. 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 the information that is requested.

9. Review and Edit Your Application

The Review and Edit page summarizes all the information that you have entered, including your Project Director Information and your Proposal Narrative. From this page, you can:

  • Review and edit each section;
  • Save the entire application and log out of the system; or
  • Move ahead to submit your application.

10. Submit Your Application

Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the Submit button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central on February 7, 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 e-mail confirming submission of your application. At the submission confirmation page, you will be able to print out a copy of your application. Print and keep this copy for your records.

VI. Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • 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?
  • The overall vision for the program series. How does this project relate to your community? Will the programs you offer serve those needs?
  • Demonstrated capacity to implement quality programs for the intended audiences.
  • Qualifications and capacity of partners and presenters.

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, though rural and small communities will be given preference.

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 assessed by a panel of librarians and project staff of ALA and GLI. ALA’s Public Programs Office and GLI will make the final decisions.

VII. Award Administration Information

Application deadline: February 7, 2018 at 11:59 pm (Central)

Award notification: March 7, 2018

Programming Periods:

Round One: 6/1/18 - 9/30/18
Round Two: 12/1/18 - 3/31/19
Round Three: 6/1/19 - 9/30/19
Round Four: 12/1/19 - 3/31/20

Final Report Due: Within 30 days after the end of your assigned programming period.

VIII. Points of Contact

If you have questions, contact:

Public Programs Office

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045

To access the application system, sign in with your profile.