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Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, Tribes, and School Districts for Arts Activities in Underserved Communities

Challenge America


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
CFDA Number: 45.024
Funding or PIN Number: 2022NEA01CA
Array ( [0] => American Samoa (USA); [1] => Guam (USA); [2] => Puerto Rico (USA); [3] => Virgin Islands (USA); [4] => Northern Mariana Islands (USA); )

Geographic Focus
USA Territories: American Samoa (USA);   Guam (USA);   Puerto Rico (USA);   Virgin Islands (USA);   Northern Mariana Islands (USA);

Important Dates
LOI Date: 04/27/23
Deadline: 05/16/23 11:59 PM ET Save

Grant Description
Grants of $10,000 to USA and territories nonprofit organizations, agencies, school districts, and tribal entities to increase the availability of arts opportunities for underrepresented communities. Applicants must complete required registrations and a preliminary application prior to applying.

Challenge America offers support primarily to small organizations for projects in all artistic disciplines that extend the reach of the arts to populations that are underserved. The program is rooted in principles that include, but are not limited to, the recognition that:

  • Some groups/communities and some geographic areas with rich cultural identities have limited grant funding opportunities, and/or have been historically underserved by national arts funding;
  • Some small organizations may face barriers to accessing grant funding; and
  • Some applicants to the NEA may benefit from enhanced technical assistance resources.

The term “underserved,” as defined by legislation and agency policy, refers to those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by 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. For additional information, see Program Description in Pre-Application Information, below. 

Challenge America seeks to address these potential barriers for organizations seeking funding.

Challenge America supports arts projects in all artistic disciplines. Projects must extend the reach of the arts to populations 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 an entire season of programming.

Federal regulations require that all NEA-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Funded activities must be held in a physically accessible venue and program access and effective communication must be provided for participants and audience members with disabilities. If your project is recommended for funding, you will be asked to provide detailed information describing how you will make your project physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Independent school districts
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria
Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes may apply.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the only arts funder in the United States—public or private—that provides access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

Applicants may be arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, local education agencies (school districts), and other organizations that can help advance the goals of the National Endowment for the Arts.

To be eligible, the applicant organization must:
- Be a first-time applicant to the Arts Endowment or be a previous Arts Endowment applicant that was not recommended for funding in any of the three most recent Fiscal Years (FYs 2020, 2021, or 2022) in any of the following grant programs:
(i) Grants for Arts Projects, formerly known as Art Works (application deadlines in February and July 2019, 2020, and 2021);
(ii) Research Grants in the Arts (application deadlines in October 2019, October 2020, and April 2021); or
(iii) Our Town (application deadlines in August 2019, 2020, and 2021).

Previous Challenge America applicants and grantees are eligible to apply, as long as they were not recommended for FY 2020, FY 2021, or FY 2022 funding in Grants for Arts Projects (formerly known as Art Works), Research Grants in the Arts, or Our Town.

Eligible organizations that received American Rescue Plan (ARP) or CARES Act funding may apply to this program as long as they were not recommended for FY 2020, FY 2021, or FY 2022 funding in Grants for Arts Projects (formerly known as Art Works), Research Grants in the Arts, or Our Town.

Previous NEA applicants recommended for FY 2020, FY 2021, or FY 2022 funding in Grants for Arts Projects (formerly known as Art Works), Research Grants in the Arts, or Our Town, are not eligible to apply (as indicated by an NEA Offer Letter dated November 4, 2019, or later).

The following are not eligible to apply:
- Individuals;
- Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent (organizations must apply directly on their own behalf; or
- Designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs).

For additional eligibility information, see Eligibility, in Pre-Application Information, below.

Seasonal and general operating support are not supported.

No pre-award costs are allowable in the Project Budget.

For information on unallowable activities and costs, see the link in Pre-Application Information, below.

Pre-Proposal Conference
Challenge America Guidelines Webinar
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm ET


Pre-Application Information
Application Calendar:
- Part 1 - Submit to April 27, 2023 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
- Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal: May 2 – May 16, 2023 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time
- Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection: October 2023
- Earliest Beginning Date for Proposed Project: January 1, 2024

Submitting an application is a multi-step process:
- Part 1: Submit to the “Application for Federal Domestic Assistance/Short Organization Form.”
- Part 2: Complete the “Grant Application Form (GAF)” and upload items through the Arts Endowment’s Applicant Portal.

Before applying, your organization must create and maintain up-to-date registrations with, the System for Award Management (SAM) at, and Registering and maintaining these accounts is always FREE.

These registrations can take several weeks to finalize, so begin this process early! Registrations with, SAM, and must be active for you to submit your application. Finalize your registrations well before the application deadline. This should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise.

An organization may submit only one application at the Challenge America April 21, 2022, deadline. If an organization applies to the Challenge America category, it may not also apply to the Grants for Arts Projects category during the same calendar year.

Program Description:
Application Calendar:
Award Information:
Unallowable Activities/Costs:
How to Apply:
Award Administration:
Applicant Resources:

To view this opportunity on

Estimated Size of Grant
All grants are for $10,000.

Term of Contract
Support of a project can start no earlier than January 1, 2024. Grants awarded under these guidelines generally may cover a period of performance of up to two years. The two-year period is intended to allow an applicant sufficient time to plan, execute, and close out its project, not to repeat a one-year project for a second year.

Contact Information
Reach out if you have questions about whether your organization and proposed project are a good match for the Challenge America program, or about any other aspect of the application process. Contact or 202-682-5700.

SAM Federal Service Desk: Call 1-866-606-8221 or see the information posted on the SAM website: Contact Center: Call 1-800-518-4726, email

National Endowment for the Arts
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

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