Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant Guidelines

Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant Guidelines

Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant logo

Date Posted: December 1, 2023

Deadline for Submission: February 1, 2024 by 11:59 pm (CST)

Award Notification Date: March 13, 2024

Apply online via ALA's grants management platform


Before starting, read the grant FAQ and carefully review the requirements below in each category for the grant. Grant writing resources, including examples of previously awarded projects, are available in the FAQ.

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

Table of Contents

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

Grant Description

The Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant is an annual grant to recognize, promote, and support innovative and meaningful community engagement efforts in libraries. Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community members – be they library patrons, residents, faculty, students, or local organizations – to address issues for the betterment of the community.

Each year, the grant will focus on supporting a community engagement project with a specific theme. For the 2023-2024 cycle, libraries are invited to submit applications for a community engagement project that focuses on community empowerment. This is the process of facilitating a populace to build capacity and collaborate to make important decisions about their communities.

Some example proposals could include (but are not limited to):

  1. a project that brings people together to discuss the local economy and works to increase resources to support entrepreneurism based on the needs identified;
  2. a program that collaborates with a local partner to increase civic participation to help strengthen the community;
  3. projects that work with formerly incarcerated individuals to create better avenues for reentry;
  4. a project empowering individuals to celebrate and exercise intellectual freedom.

Libraries should work collaboratively with community members and at least one partner organization to develop a project that addresses a local issue and builds upon community assets. Please note that, while projects should be community-driven, they must be spearheaded by the library.

Libraries are invited to apply by designing and outlining a library-led community engagement project focused on community empowerment. Project activities may include:

  • Developing direct, sustained, and innovative community engagement programs and services
  • Executing a relevant and creative community engagement program or event
  • Partnering with a community organization that builds the capacity of the community for this work
  • Creating and publishing educational or promotional materials for the greater library community and/or presenting an innovative model program at conferences

As you develop your proposal, please note that projects with the following qualities will be prioritized:

  • Innovative: How is your proposed project innovative? Think beyond book clubs/discussions as to how the library can creatively and meaningfully engage members of the community in exploring the proposed topic.
  • Community-driven: The community empowerment topic you choose to focus on should be reflective of local needs/interests and the project you design should be developed with community input and buy-in. Strong, detailed letters of support are encouraged to demonstate the involvement and interest of community members/organizations and the relevance of the project to the community.

ALA announced the creation of the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant in 2019, an initiative made possible by a matching grant and ongoing support from former ALA president and longtime generous supporter Nancy Kranich.


  • This opportunity is open to school, public, academic, tribal, and special libraries in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
  • Applying libraries must demonstrate commitment to community engagement work and must submit at least one letter of support from a community organization partnering with them in this endeavor.
  • The library/applicant must hold either an ALA institutional membership OR ALA personal membership.
  • Individuals and non-library entities are not eligible for funding.
  • Late, incomplete, and ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

Award Information

Two libraries will be selected to receive $2,000 to advance their community engagement efforts. The grant period may be one to two years in length.


The selected libraries will be required to:

  • Appoint one staff member as the project director of the project.
  • Work with at least one community partner.
  • Carry out evaluation and measure outcomes of the project.
  • Submit any significant changes to proposed plans in writing to ALA.
  • Submit a comprehensive final report to ALA with project accomplishments, evaluation findings, outcomes, and use of funds within 30 days of the project end date.
  • Present the project either as a webinar or program model for, a website of ALA’s Public Programs Office.

Eligible Expenses

Grant funds are restricted to project related expenses. Eligible expenses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Purchase of collection materials
  • Tech equipment (e.g. virtual meeting licenses, iPads, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.)
  • Project supplies (e.g. markers, index cards, post-its, etc)
  • Library staff time
  • Payment to project partners for reimbursement or direct funding of services and support provided (e.g. childcare providers, translators, instructors, co-facilitator, etc.)
  • Promotion and publicity

Grant funds may not be used to support indirect costs (e.g. general library administrative expenses) or as donations to other organizations.

Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant between December 1, 2023 and February 1, 2024. To receive notice of this and other grant opportunities, please subscribe to our Programming Librarian e-newsletter.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before applying.

Getting Started

To submit a proposal, go to the online application form and complete the following steps. If this is your first time submitting an application through our grants management system, you may want to first review our How to Apply webpage. If you encounter problems interacting with our online grants management platform due to difficulties with assistive technologies, please contact or call 312.280.5045. Please also include information about the nature of your accessibility barrier so we can best provide support. You can preview the application by downloading a PDF of it.

To apply for the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant, you must complete the following steps:


1. Enter Opportunity Title and Project Name

To begin your application, enter LTCEG24 into the “Opportunity Title” field.

In the "Project Name" field, please provide a descriptive name for your proposed project.

2. Complete Project Director Information

To complete this section, provide all the information that is requested about the Project Director.

Note: The project director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the entire proposed project. They will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

3. Complete Library Information

To complete this section, provide information about the applying library, including type, population served, and community type. You will also be asked to provide your ALA member ID.

4. Write the Narrative

Before you compose the narrative part of this application, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your application is unlikely to be competitive. Please note that each narrative may not exceed 500 words.

  • Community Description. Describe the community where your library is located, including demographics, dynamics and key issues or challenges it faces. What should reviewers know about your library and community in order to understand your proposed community engagement project? Be sure to provide context of the library service population, if different.
  • Project Description. Describe your proposed project. Provide details of how the community has been/will be involved and describe who your community partner is and the role they will play in your project. Be sure to highlight how your project design is innovative.
  • Community Impact. Describe why this project is of importance to your library’s community. How do you think the proposed project will contribute to or show leadership in your community? How does this project intersect with or address other local issues?
  • Evaluation Plan. Describe your evaluation plan for the project. How will you include evaluation and performance measurement? (For help creating an outcomes-based evaluation plan, please refer to the Institute for Museum and Library Services' Outcome Based Evaluations guide and the Public Library Association's Project Outcome tool.)
  • Commitment to Community Engagement and Empowerment. Describe your library’s recent work in community engagement. Describe any past/present/future efforts or goals to collaborate with the community that you are focusing on as part of the community empowerment aspect. How does this opportunity fit into your library’s vision for this work? How do you see this initiative continuing after the grant period?
  • Budget. Please provide a brief description of the budget for your proposed project; the budget should equal $2,000. If you intend to spend additional money beyond the $2,000 grant (in-kind support, other grant funding, etc.), please note that.

5. Upload Supporting Materials

5.A. Upload Letters of Support (Required)

At least one letter of support from a community organization partnering with you is required.

5.B. Upload Attachments (Optional)

Uploading additional materials is optional but can provide the committee with a better understanding of your previous work in community engagement. Attachments may include, but are not limited to:

  • Agenda or outline of past program(s)
  • Feedback from program participants/surveys
  • Presentation slides
  • Newsletter articles
  • Program flyers

6. Sign Application by Authorized Official

An application for the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant is an application for a grant from the ALA. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications on behalf of the organization.

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

7. Review and Edit Your Application

8. 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. CST on February 1, 2024. 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 committee review. You will receive an email confirming submission of your application.

Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Evidence that the library has a demonstrated commitment to community engagement and connecting/reconnecting with a specific group
  • The coherence of the application and the overall impression it gives of the library being able to carry out the project effectively
  • Excellence, appeal, and innovation of the proposed project
  • Interest, involvement, and awareness of community members, leaders, and organizations
  • Demonstration of relevance of the proposed project to the community and the issue(s) or challenges it seeks to address
  • Potential for replicability of the proposed project

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 and selected by the Libraries Transform Communities Engagement Grant committee. The committee consists of a chair and four ALA members appointed by the Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC).

Grant Administration Information

Application deadline: February 1, 2024 11:59 pm (CST)

Award notification: March 13, 2024

Award distributed: April 30, 2024

Earliest Project Start Date: May 1, 2024

Project End Date: April 30, 2025 OR April 30, 2026

Final Report Due: Within 30 days of project completion

Points of Contact

If you have questions about the grant, contact:

Public Programs Office

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045

Next Section: Frequently Asked Questions

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