Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys Grant Guidelines

RECEIPT DEADLINE: March 29, 2013
Date posted: January 15, 2013
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.164

Contact the American Library Association (ALA) staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or publicprograms@ala.org. You can also contact the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at bridgingcultures@neh.gov. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930. Please see a copy of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information.

I. Program Description

The American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities present Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, a scholar-led reading and discussion program for public audiences.

The program is designed for libraries seeking to provide opportunities for informed discussion in their communities about the histories, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States.

Similar discussions will take place at libraries and other venues through the auspices of selected state and territorial humanities councils, whose mission it is to make high quality humanities programs available to residents throughout their state or territory.

Up to one hundred twenty-five grants will be awarded to libraries and state and territorial humanities councils around the country to host programs on one of the five Muslim Journeys themes. (The five themes are listed below). Participating libraries will plan a five-part series of reading and discussion programs, which will take place every two to four weeks, depending on local library preferences. The library is responsible for recruiting a scholar to lead each discussion and for promoting the programs to the widest possible public audience.

All Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys programs must take place between September 1, 2013 and August 31, 2014.

All libraries and state and territorial councils applying for the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys program must have applied for the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys by the October 25, 2012, deadline, and received it in January 2013. Thus, each will have at its disposal a rich collection of resources to draw upon for community programming beyond the Let’s Talk About It reading and discussion programs. The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf was developed and distributed in order to provide the nation’s libraries—and in turn their patrons—with a selection of resources chosen especially for public audiences, based on the advice of scholars, librarians, and other humanities educators and program experts.

The National Endowment for the Humanities presents the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys programs as part of its special initiative, Bridging Cultures. The initiative engages the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.

The Bridging Cultures initiative encompasses a broad array of themes and program formats informed by scholarship and the perspectives of the humanities. Projects already funded address themes as varied as the role of civility in democracy; religious pluralism in the United States; Muslim-majority societies and the humanities; U.S. history in global perspective; Asian cultural traditions on the Pacific Rim; the role of women in war and peace; cultural encounters between China and the U.S.; and the influence of the American West on European culture.

Themes and Book Selections

Each of the Muslim Journeys themes features a series of five books selected for reading and discussion, accompanied by a scholarly essay. The essays were written by five distinguished national project scholars with expertise in the broad context of the themes and the relevant literature. The essays are intended to introduce each theme and help illuminate discussion about each of the books.

American Stories
National project scholar—Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Reed College

  • Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford
  • The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, edited by Edward E. Curtis IV
  • Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel
  • A Quiet Revolution by Leila Ahmed
  • The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson

Connected Histories
National project scholar—Giancarlo Casale, University of Minnesota

  • When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the “Riches of the East” by Stewart Gordon
  • The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance by Jim Al-Khalili
  • The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal
  • Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, translated by Peter Sluglett
  • In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh

Literary Reflections
National project scholar—Leila Golestaneh Austin, Johns Hopkins University

  • The Arabian Nights (anonymous), edited by Muhsin Mahdi, translated by Husain Haddawy
  • The Conference of the Birds by Farid al-Din Attar, translated by Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely
  • Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi
  • Minaret by Leila Aboulela

Pathways of Faith
National project scholar Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado

  • The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam by F. E. Peters
  • Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan A. C. Brown
  • The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson
  • Rumi: Poet and Mystic, edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson
  • The Art of Hajj by Venetia Porter

Points of View
National project scholar—Deborah Amos, National Public Radio

  • In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  • House of Stone by Anthony Shadid
  • Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie
  • Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi

Each of these themes is described in greater depth on the Themes page of this site. Applicants will need to familiarize themselves with the five themes in order to choose the particular theme on which their program would focus.

As in all programs funded by NEH, discussions 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.

II. Award Information

ALA and NEH will make up to one hundred and twenty-five (125) Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys awards to libraries and state and territorial humanities councils across the country.

Benefits for libraries and humanities councils

Awardees will receive the following:

  1. A cash grant of up to $4,500 from ALA, with funding provided by NEH
    1. For Libraries
    • $3,500 to be used
        • to purchase multiple copies of the books and for project-related programming expenses (for example, honoraria for scholars, publicity, and other support materials); and
        • to support required participation by the library project director at an orientation workshop in Chicago (June 26–27, 2013) or Denver (August 15–16, 2013). These workshops are designed for the library project directors and the local project scholars, offering instruction, networking opportunities, and participation in a model program.
    • $1,000 (optional) to support participation by a local project scholar in one of the orientation workshops. The $1,000 is available only if a local scholar from the host library participates in an orientation session. Participation by a scholar is encouraged but not required.
      Grant funds may not be used to support indirect costs (that is, general administrative expenses).
    1. For State and Territorial Humanities Councils
    • $4,500 to be used
        • to purchase multiple copies of the books and for project-related programming expenses (for example, honoraria for scholars, publicity, and other support materials);
        • to support a scholar-led reading and discussion series on the selected Muslim Journeys theme in at least two different venues, with each series consisting of at least five sessions,; and
        • to support optional participation by the council’s project director and a local project scholar in the orientation workshop in Chicago (June 26–27, 2013) or Denver (August 15–16, 2013).
    • ALA will host a special orientation webinar for humanities council project directors or local project scholars on a separate occasion.
  2. An extension through December 31, 2014, of the awardee’s subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online.
  3. A Site Support Notebook for libraries and councils, which will offer resources to assist librarians in planning the series, setting program goals, working with the local project scholars, recruiting community partners, facilitating discussion group meetings, promoting the series, developing thematically related supplemental programs, budgeting, and evaluating the program. Promotional materials, including essays, folders, bookmarks, and five copies of the project publicity poster, will be provided; the materials will also be available in digital format for downloading by libraries.
  4. Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the programs, including participation in an online discussion list for library and state and territorial council project directors.

Requirements for libraries and humanities councils

All libraries and state and territorial humanities councils that receive awards must do the following:

  • Appoint one staff member as the project director (local coordinator) of the project. The project director from each awardee library must attend one of the two project orientation workshops (scheduled for June in Chicago and August in Denver). (For state and territorial humanities council awardees, attendance by the project director is optional.)
  • Recruit one or more qualified scholars to lead each of the five required reading and discussion sessions. Encourage at least one of these local project scholars to attend one of the two project orientation workshops (in Chicago in June or in Denver in August).
  • Make creative use of Muslim Journeys resources—such as films, Islamic Art Spots, the Oxford Islamic Studies Online, and the NEH Muslim Journeys website (note that this URL will be activated on February 14, 2013) in their Let’s Talk About It series and in programs that reach the broader community.
  • Recruit at least one local partner organization, which can help market the program, reach target audiences, identify and help recruit scholars, create supplemental projects, assist with book distribution, or provide supplemental funding.
  • Promote the programs to the widest possible public audience. Academic libraries must describe in detail how they plan to attract public audiences to their programs and distribute the books. Humanities councils must describe in detail how their programs reflect or help realize one or more of their strategic goals.
  • Schedule programs to take place between September 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014.
  • Provide a final performance report to ALA by the September 30, 2014 deadline.

III. Eligibility

Applications are invited from U.S. public, academic, and community college libraries with IRS tax-exempt status, and from state and territorial humanities councils. To be eligible, libraries and humanities councils must have received the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys in January 2013.

Individuals and organizations other than libraries and state and territorial humanities councils are not eligible to apply. Libraries and state and territorial humanities councils that did not apply for and receive the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf are also ineligible to apply.

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 Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys between January 15 and March 29, 2013.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application. You may also wish to consult Let’s Talk About It: A Planner’s Guide (PDF) for information on planning and structuring a successful Let’s Talk About It program.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to http://apply.ala.org/ltaimj.
To apply to host the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys program, you must complete the following nine steps:

  • Log In or Register
  • Confirm Eligibility
  • Complete Project Director Information
  • Select the Theme and Preferred Workshop
  • Write the Proposal Narrative
  • Upload Supporting Materials
  • List Authorizing Official and Certify Authorization
  • Review and Edit Your Application
  • Submit Your Application

1. Log In or Register

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

  • 1.A—Log In
    If you have already registered, you may log in, using your e-mail address and password.
  • 1.B—Register
    If you have not yet registered, you may do so now.

2. Confirm Eligibility

Select your state or territory from the pull-down menu. Then, select your library’s or humanities council’s name from the pull-down menus. After you make these selections, you will be taken to the first page of the online application. If you do not see your library or council listed, but believe that a Bookshelf award was received, contact publicprograms@ala.org for assistance.

3. Complete Project Director Information

Note: The Project Director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the reading and discussion series. 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 March 29, 2013, submission deadline.

4. Select Theme and Preferred Workshop

Respond to the following questions:

  • 4.A—Theme Selection
    Select the Muslim Journeys theme that your library is applying to host. Please choose from American Stories, Connected Histories, Literary Reflections, Pathways of Faith, and Points of View.
  • 4.B—Workshop Preference
    Indicate your preference regarding workshop attendance. You may select the Chicago workshop (June 26–27, 2013), the Denver workshop (August 15–16, 2013), or indicate that you do not have a preference. If you have a conflict and will not be able to attend one of the workshops, please indicate that in the space provided.

ALA and NEH will make every effort to honor workshop preferences. We cannot, however, guarantee that all award recipients will be able to attend their preferred workshop. Workshop information will be conveyed when awards are announced in May 2013.

5. 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.

  • 5.A—Proposal Narrative
    Please write a brief narrative describing your plans for hosting Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys at your library or in your state or territory. The proposal narrative consists of six sections (described immediately below). Each section of the narrative may not exceed 300 words. Be sure to address the following points:
  1. Describe your program plan, including overall goals, reasons for selecting the particular Muslim Journeys theme, the description of target audience(s), any plans for related programs, and name(s) and role(s) of your partner(s). Humanities councils must describe in detail how their programs reflect or help realize one or more of their strategic goals. When possible, include letters of support from partners in Section 6.C.
  2. List the project director’s specific experience with Let’s Talk About It programming or other library reading and discussion groups, and/or adult public programming. Attach a vita or biography (up to two pages) for the project director in Section 6.A.
  3. Provide the name and title of the local project scholar(s), each scholar’s highest degree, and his or her discipline. Discuss each scholar’s knowledge of the program’s themes and any previous experience relevant to leading a library-based reading and discussion group. Attach a vita or biography (up to two pages) for the scholar(s) in Section 6.A, and his or her letter of commitment to participate in the project in Section 6.B. (Note: applications without a confirmed project scholar will not be considered.)
  4. Describe the publicity efforts that will be used to attract participants. Academic libraries should describe their plans to attract participants from beyond the campus community. Attach samples of previous or current program publicity materials, if available, in Section 6.D. If you are applying on behalf of a state or territorial humanities council, describe the process that was used to select the required two program host sites (libraries or other venues). A letter of commitment from each host site must be attached in Section 6.B.
  5. Describe the methods that will be used to evaluate how well your program met its goals and objectives. If you are applying on behalf of a state or territorial humanities council, describe how you will collect feedback from and evaluate programs conducted by the two required host sites.
  6. Summarize your library’s or council’s commitment to and history of adult programming, including previous Let’s Talk About It experience and/or other adult public programming. Please provide specific examples of program successes, including attendance figures.
  • 5.B—Program Schedule
  1. Complete the table on the application form, indicating proposed dates, times, location(s), and projected attendance for the five Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys programs.
  2. Consistent scheduling helps retain an audience, and it also enhances program recognition. We therefore highly recommend scheduling the five programs on the same day of the week and same time, at the same library.

6. Upload Supporting Materials

  • 6.A—Upload CVs/Biographies
    Upload the vita or biography of the project director and the local project scholar(s), as described in the instructions for parts 2 and 3 of the proposal narrative. If you are applying on behalf of a state or territorial humanities council, upload the vita or biography of the project coordinator from each host site, if possible.
  • 6.B—Upload Letters of Commitment
    Upload the letter of commitment from the local project scholar(s), as described in the instructions for part 3 of the proposal narrative. Councils should also upload a letter of commitment from each site that will participate by hosting the series.
  • 6.C—Upload Letters of Support
    Upload letters of support from any partners you may have identified in part 1 of the proposal narrative.
  • 6.D—Upload Sample Publicity Materials (optional)
    Upload samples of previous or current program publicity materials related to efforts described in part 4 of the proposal narrative.

7. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys program is an application for a subaward from 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 March 29, 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 program plan. Has the applicant supplied all required information, including the planned dates, times, and locations of the programs, the anticipated attendance, and the role of program partners? How clearly is the program described?
  • Qualifications of the local project scholar(s). The local project scholar should have a Ph.D. or another advanced degree in world history, world literature, religious studies, Islamic or Near Eastern studies, or another relevant humanities subject. His or her current or past experience should include teaching this subject at a college or university. He or she should be an experienced and engaging speaker, who can facilitate discussion with adult audiences on humanities themes.
  • The overall vision of the program. How does this Let’s Talk About It program on the selected Muslim Journeys theme relate to the library’s or council’s existing public programs? How will it contribute to the community’s cultural life?
  • Quality of publicity and audience recruitment plan, including explanation of the role of program partners. See the Frequently Asked Questions for examples of how partners participate. When possible, please include partners’ letters of support with your application.
  • Evidence of library or council administrative support for the project.

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 publicprograms@ala.org.

Review and selection process

Each application will be assessed by a panel of librarians in collaboration with the staff of ALA and NEH.

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

VI. Award Administration Information

  • Application Deadline: March 29, 2013
  • Grant Notification: May 15, 2013
  • Orientation Workshop #1: June 26–27, 2013, Chicago, Illinois
  • Orientation Workshop #2: August 15–16, 2013, Denver, Colorado
  • Programming Period: September 1, 2013–August 31, 2014
  • Final Report Due: September 30, 2014

Award notification

Applicants will be notified of the decision by e-mail by May 15, 2013.

Reporting requirements

Award recipients will be required to submit an online final performance report to ALA by September 30, 2014.

VII. Points of Contact

If you have questions about the program, contact:

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


Bridging Cultures
National Endowment for the Humanities

VIII. Other information

Privacy Policy

Information in these guidelines is solicited under the authority of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 956. The principal purpose for which the information will be used is to process the grant application. The information may also be used for statistical research, analysis of trends, and Congressional oversight. Failure to provide the information may result in the delay or rejection of the application.

Application Completion Time

The Office of Management and Budget requires federal agencies to supply information on the time needed to complete forms and also to invite comments on the paperwork burden. NEH estimates that the average time to complete this application is three hours per response. This estimate includes time for reviewing instructions, researching, gathering, and maintaining the information needed, and completing and reviewing the application.

Please send any comments regarding the estimated completion time or any other aspect of this application, including suggestions for reducing the completion time, to the Chief Guidelines Officer, at guidelines@neh.gov; the Director of the Office of Publications, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC 20506; and the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3136-0134), Washington, DC 20503. According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB number.