RECEIPT DEADLINE: October 21, 2013
Date posted: July 25, 2013

Contact the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

I. Program Description

The ALA Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the National Museum of American History, invites applications from public, academic, and special libraries; small museums; and historical societies for the traveling exhibition Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.

Changing America is organized by NMAAHC in collaboration with the National Museum of American History. NMAAHC is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015 on land adjacent to the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian-sponsored Changing America exhibition is on display at the NMAAHC gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., until September 7, 2014. The traveling exhibition is based upon the museum display.

The traveling exhibition tour is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Fifty sites will be selected to present the exhibition in their communities for a period of six weeks. All sites selected for the project will receive a grant of $1,700 from ALA, with funding provided by the NEH, for expenses related to public programs. A planning webinar/workshop and online program resources will be available for all selected sites.

To be eligible for the tour, an institution must have a suitable space in which to display the 1,200–1,400-square-foot traveling exhibition. The exhibition will consist of nine freestanding curved panel units, each of them 8 feet wide and 94 inches high, with exhibit content and graphics on both sides, and an accompanying video with related material. Guidelines will be available for the arrangement of exhibition units in varied display spaces, and for exhibition set-up and dismantling.

Participants selected for the Changing America exhibition tour will be required to offer an opening event and at least two public humanities programs for adult audiences related to the humanities themes in the exhibition, presented by qualified humanities scholars.

The Exhibition

The traveling exhibition and related public programs will help public audiences understand and discuss the relationship between two great peoples' movements that resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the March on Washington in 1963. In both we take inspiration from those who marched toward freedom.

One hundred years separate the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington. Yet these two events are profoundly linked together in a larger story of liberty and the American experience. Both events were the results of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision.

The Emancipation Proclamation committed the nation to ending slavery after tens of thousands of African Americans claimed freedom for themselves during the Civil War. In the years following, the U.S. Congress passed constitutional amendments abolishing slavery, expanding citizenship rights, and giving black men the right to vote. These acts changed the political landscape, but these new freedoms were stripped away in the years that followed. During the days of “Jim Crow”–enforced segregation, black Americans continued to press for full citizenship. Each Emancipation Day, African Americans organized parades reminding the black community—and the entire nation—of a commitment that remained unfulfilled. These local celebrations of Emancipation set the stage for a national push for freedom in the twentieth century.

On August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the biggest demonstration ever seen in the District of Columbia—a demonstration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Millions of people around the world watched the march on television. Marchers came in buses, trains, cars, trucks, airplanes, and on foot, from all over the country, to demand that the commitments of 1863 be fulfilled for all Americans. Representatives of many races, classes, and ideologies prayed together, listened to electrifying speeches and stirring music, and called on on people to work together to make the nation's founding principles of liberty and equality a reality for all.

This demand for social justice continued in the following years and put pressure on political leaders to act. It led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965— turning points in the struggle for equality for all, and clarion calls for continued vigilance and action in the years to follow.

Four panel units of the traveling exhibition focus on the issues and events leading to the Emancipation Proclamation, and four units and a video focus on the March on Washington. One unit will serve as an introduction to the exhibition. Each exhibition unit will consist of a curved panel 8 feet wide and 94 inches high, with content and graphics viewable on both sides.

Public Programs

Exhibition sites are required to offer an opening event and at least two public programs for adult audiences on the humanities themes of the exhibit, presented by qualified humanities scholars. Sites are encouraged to present more than two programs. Programs should: 1) encourage scholar-led reflection upon and discussion about the major issues surrounding the two events; 2) acquaint new audiences with the history of these two critical events in American history, their outcomes and legacies, and 3) make use of materials in different formats that have been developed to support the content of the exhibition.

Some Program Suggestions (not required)

Film and discussion: To mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the National Endowment for the Humanities developed a special project as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative. In the Created Equal film project, the endowment selected four NEH-funded documentary films on Civil Rights history and created programming resources to guide public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S. history. The films are The Abolitionists; Slavery by Another Name; Freedom Riders; and The Loving Story. The first three films and a fifteen-minute excerpt from The Loving Story will be streamed on the NEH Created Equal project website. A limited number of sets of the four films will be available to exhibition sites that did not receive the films through the Created Equal project. The films are also available for purchase from various sources, with and without public performance rights.

A community-wide program about the events in the exhibit, or one of the events, featuring a scholar presentation; oral history interviews; viewing and discussion of one or more of the NEH-selected documentaries; readings from oral histories, poems, fiction and nonfiction works about the event(s); music; displays of books and photographs; food; and related programs for children.

Oral history interviews with people in your community who have firsthand experience with the struggle for human and civil rights in the United States and other countries.

A panel discussion about how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 affected your community. What do people think about laws relating to civil rights, about the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down parts of the Voting Rights Act, etc.?

A Century of Change: Then and Now in Photos. Sites invite community members, media, and historical societies to share photos of the history of the community on themes related to the Changing America exhibit. Sites prepare a “photo wall” telling the story of their community during the Civil War and/or during the struggle for Civil Rights. A discussion program about the photos, led by a scholar, would address questions such as: How did the community participate in the events? What were opinions in the region about the events? How have attitudes and opinions about these issues changed?

A book discussion program or series of programs, using books pertinent to the topics of the exhibit. A list of suggested books will be available from project sponsors.

II. Award Information

Fifty institutions will be selected to host Changing America between January 2014 and December 2017.

Benefits for Project Sites

Sites selected for this grant program will receive the following:

  • A cash grant of up to $1,700 from ALA, with funding provided by NEH (grant funds may not be used to support indirect costs, i.e., general administrative expenses).
  • The traveling exhibition for a six-week loan period (shipping costs are covered by the grant).
  • Exhibition brochures in both printed and online formats.
  • A CD press kit with images for use in publicity and on websites.
  • An online site support notebook that will include resources to assist sites in presenting public programs, a press kit, shipping and installation instructions, and report forms.
  • Free participation in a live orientation webinar for the project in January 2014. The webinar will be archived for later viewing.
  • Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the project, including participation in an online discussion list for sites.
  • A set of the four NEH films in the Created Equal project; films are available only to sites that have not already received them through that project.

Requirements for Project Sites

Sites selected for this grant programs should:

  • Appoint one staff member as the project director (local coordinator) of the project. The project director from each selected site must participate in the orientation webinar in January 2014.
  • Ask one or more qualified scholars to help with local planning and public program presentations in connection with the exhibition. Encourage the scholar(s) to participate in the orientation webinar.
  • Find one or more local partner organizations that can help market the exhibition and reach target audiences. (Suggested partners are: public television stations; public, college, or university libraries; historical societies or history centers; museums; and state humanities councils.)
  • Sponsor an opening event for the public and at least two public programs for adult audiences, presented by qualified humanities scholars, on the humanities themes of the exhibition. The opening event may be combined with a required public program. The exhibition and exhibition-related programs must be free to the public.
  • Use designated sponsor and funder credits and/or logos on all locally produced publicity materials.
  • Promote the programs to the widest possible public audience. Private institutions should describe in their applications how they plan to attract public audiences to the exhibition and programs. Applicants are encouraged to contact their local public library for collaboration in publicity and possibly program offerings.
  • Follow exhibition security and space guidelines (display the exhibition in 1,200–1,400 square feet of space following display guidelines; monitor the exhibition on a regular schedule during open hours).
  • Provide all reports to ALA by the deadlines requested, including an exhibition condition/damage report and a final project report. NEH requires a final report from each project site that assesses how well the finished project met its goals to educate and engage the public. Information on the project’s reach (size of audiences viewing the exhibit and attending programs) and impact must be part of this final report. NEH particularly wants to know how fully the project met its stated learning goals and how audiences were more deeply engaged in thinking about humanities ideas and questions as a result of the project. A final report form will be available.

III. Eligibility

Eligible institutions include public, academic (college, university, community college), and special libraries; museums; and historical societies. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Please contact the sponsors if you have questions about eligibility.

Federal entities are ineligible to apply. Applications from organizations whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities may also be deemed ineligible. This does not preclude applicants from using grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.

Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

IV. Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for Changing America between July 25 and October 21, 2013.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to To apply to for Changing America, you must complete the following nine steps:

  1. Register (if you have not registered when applying for a different project) OR
  2. Log In (if you have already registered when applying for a different project)
  3. Complete Project Director Information
  4. Write the Proposal Narrative
  5. Complete the Exhibition Scheduling Period Item
  6. Upload Supporting Materials
  7. List Authorizing Official and Certify Authorization
  8. Review and Edit Your Application
  9. Submit Your Application

1. Register

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

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 Director Information

Note: The Project Director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the traveling exhibition at the site. He or she will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

To complete step 3, provide all the information that is requested on the Project Director Information screen. You must then save the information.

One piece of information that you must supply is the applicant institution’s DUNS number. All institutions receiving an award are required to provide a DUNS number, issued by Dun & Bradstreet. Project directors should contact their institution’s grants administrator or chief financial officer to obtain their institution’s DUNS number. Federal grant or subgrant applicants can obtain a DUNS number free of charge by calling 1-866-705-5711. (Learn more about the requirement.)

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 October 21, 2013, submission deadline.

4. Write the Proposal Narrative

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

4.A—Proposal Narrative

Please write a brief narrative describing your plans for presenting Changing America. The proposal narrative consists of seven sections (described immediately below). Please note that each section of the narrative may not exceed 300 words.
Be sure to address the following points in your narrative:

  1. Describe why your institution would like to participate in this project, including community interests and demographics, area collections pertinent to the project, and why the cultural life of your community would benefit from examining Changing America themes and events. Please state three primary learning goals for your community for this project.
  2. Exhibition sites are encouraged to collaborate with at least one of the following in planning their programs: a local public television station; a public, college, or university library; a historical society or history center; a museum; or a state humanities council. Please describe your partner or partners and their roles in the project. Letter of support from partner(s) may be attached in Section 6.B.
  3. Provide the name and title of the scholar(s) who will help you with local programming for the exhibition. Describe their experience with the topics of the exhibit and with programming for public audiences. Attach a vita or biography (up to two pages only) for each scholar in Section 6.A. Scholar support letters for the project may be attached in Section 6.B.
  4. Describe your target audiences and how you will reach them. What is your track record in attracting the general public to programs—How will you reach the public for programs about the events described in Changing America? Please attach samples of previous or current program publicity materials, if available, in Section 6.D.
  5. What are your ideas for the opening event and two required public programs for adult audiences?  For other programs? What do you want audiences to learn from your programs? Please attach letters from other project supporters in Section 6.C. if you wish. Attaching a support letter from your local public library in Section 6.C. will strengthen your application.
  6. Describe the methods that will be used to evaluate how well your programs met their learning goals and objectives. NEH particularly wants to know how fully the project met its stated learning goals and how audiences were more deeply engaged in thinking about humanities ideas and questions as a result of the project. A brief evaluation form will be available from the NEH for all sites.
  7. Summarize briefly your institution’s commitment to and history of adult programming, including previous experience with traveling exhibitions and/or other adult public programming. Please provide specific examples of program successes, including attendance figures and target audiences reached.

5. Complete the Exhibition Scheduling Period Item

Fill in the information requested in the drop down menus. Please indicate five preferred display periods and five unwanted display periods for the traveling exhibition. You may indicate “No Preference” for any of the display periods. The project sponsors cannot guarantee that you will receive one of your preferred display periods, but will try to accommodate your requests.

6. Upload Supporting Materials

6.A—Upload CVs/Biographies

Upload the vita or biography of the project director and local scholar(s), as described in the instructions in the “Project Director Information” section, and in Question No. 3 of the proposal narrative.

6.B—Upload Letter(s) of Support (optional)

Upload only letters of support from project partner(s) and project scholar(s) here, as described in the instructions for Nos. 2 and 3 of the proposal narrative.

6.C—Upload Other Letters of Support (optional)

Upload other letters of support for the project from local organizations and institutions, such as a local public library (not the project partners or scholars), here.

6.D—UPload Sample Publicity Materials (optional)

Upload samples of previous or current program publicity materials related to efforts described in No. 4 of the proposal narrative.

7. List Authorizing Official and Certify Authorization

An application to host Changing America 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. 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 certify and submit your application.

9. Submit Your Application

Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the Submit Application” button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on October 21, 2013. Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible.

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 via e-mail a confirmation of the submission of your application. At the confirmation page you will be able to print out a copy of your application, which you should keep.

V. 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 the seven sections of the proposal narrative and the preferred display dates for the exhibition? Are plans and ideas for programs described clearly?
  • Evidence of local programming and publicity support, such as collaborations with scholars and other institutions.
  • Ideas and vision for exhibition programs. How does this project relate to the applicant’s community and its previous public programs? How will it contribute to the community’s cultural life?
  • Quality and comprehensiveness of publicity and audience recruitment plan.
  • Institutional administrative support for the project.
  • Selection for the NEH Created Equal film project. Sites that were selected for this project will receive preference in selection for the exhibition tour, based on the quality of their application.

Other factors that may influence the final selection of exhibition sites 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 Public Programs Office, American Library Association, at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Review and Selection Process

Each application will be assessed by qualified reviewers in collaboration with the staff of ALA and NEH.

Evaluators may take geographical and demographic distribution into consideration when selecting host libraries. The Chairman of NEH will make the final decisions.

VI. Award Administration Information

  • Application Deadline: October 21, 2013
  • Grant Notification: Week of December 9, 2013
  • Orientation Webinar: Early January 2014
  • Exhibition Tour Period: January 2014 through December 2017

Award Notification

Applicants will be notified of the decision by e-mail during the week of December 9, 2013.

Reporting Requirements

Award recipients will be required to submit an online final performance report to ALA thirty (30) days after the exhibition and programs end at their site.

VII. Points of Contact

If you have questions about the program, contact:

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