Resilient Communities: Application Guidelines

Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change

Final guidelines, reflecting COVID-19 closures/restrictions, posted: July 1, 2020.
Applications open online: July 1, 2020
Deadline for submission: September 10, 2020 by 11:59 pm (CDT)
Award notification date: September 28, 2020

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

Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change is an ALA pilot program made possible by support from a private donor. The program supports public and academic libraries in efforts to engage their communities in programs and conversations that address the climate crisis.

The goals of this project include:

  • Raising awareness and providing accurate information about the climate crisis to the public through libraries
  • Designating libraries as Climate Resilience Hubs, positioning them to provide ongoing public education and community support during extreme weather events
  • Engaging library staff in local partnerships and environmental justice efforts that emphasize bottom-up organizing, shared community leadership, and the centering of those most impacted by climate change, particularly communities of color and underserved communities
  • Creating space in libraries for communities to engage in conversation, mobilize for the initiation of sustainability policies and practices, and build more resilient communities
  • Identifying and documenting relevant, replicable programming models for future national distribution

Eligible programs, conversation models, and activities include but are not limited to those mentioned on the Ideas for Eligible Programs page.

II. Award Information

ALA will select twenty-five (25) public and academic libraries to receive a Resilient Communities grant.

 Benefits for Grant Recipients

  1. A $1,000 programming grant. Funds may be used to support the climate-related programs and activities that have been outlined in the library’s grant application.
  2. A small collection of documentaries/docudramas on DVD with public performance rights (PPR), to use in screening and discussion events and to add to circulating collections.
  3. Climate Resilience Hub support, provided by Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) in coordination with ALA. Materials include a window decal and educational materials on emergency preparedness. CREW will also provide sample workshops, presentations, and role-playing activities related to extreme weather preparedness; facilitate inter-hub coordination and sharing of best-practices; and alert hubs to impending extreme weather events facilitating connections to emergency managers before, during, and after extreme weather events.
  4. Digital promotional materials for local program promotion and publicity, including customizable print-ready posters, bookmarks, and postcards.
  5. A Resilient Communities programming guide developed by ALA and a panel of librarian advisors.
  6. Invitations to participate in periodic online learning opportunities for grantees.
  7. Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term, including participation in an online discussion list for Resilient Communities project directors and staff.

III. Eligibility

All public and academic libraries in the U.S. and U.S. territories are eligible to apply. ALA will select up to 20 public libraries and 5 academic libraries to participate in the project.

IV. Requirements

All institutions that receive a Resilient Communities grant must meet the following minimum program requirements:

  • Appoint one staff member as the library project director, who will oversee local coordination of the project and related reporting.
  • Recruit at least one community partner organization, naming the organization’s local contact person and describing how your organizations will work together to raise awareness about the climate crisis and address issues of local relevance.
  • Host one film screening and discussion event during the grant term (October 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021), using one of the films provided through the grant. Applicants who wish to keep events under two hours may identify and screen a shorter segment from their selected film to allow more time for discussion.
  • Designate the library as a Climate Resilience Hub, committing to share extreme weather preparedness information through the library (provided by the grant) and host one yearly educational event. Note that libraries may also choose, based on need and capacity, to expand their Hub to offer material support to the community during extreme weather events (e.g., charging stations for phones and devices; public internet access; temporary daytime shelter and restroom access; temporary overnight shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness).
  • Convene two or more additional community programs or events that focus on climate science, sustainability, emergency weather preparedness, environmental justice, or another related subject. See Ideas for Eligible Programs to help with your application planning.
  • Promote all Resilient Communities programs, events, and activities to the widest possible public audience, conducting targeted outreach to underserved communities.
  • Schedule programs to take place between October 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021.
  • Provide a final report on project activities, due to ALA by May 31, 2021.

V. Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change from July 1 – September 10, 2020. You may wish to review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to the online application and complete the following steps. You may also wish to preview the application as a PDF before getting started.

Create a New Account

To apply for Resilient Communities or any other grant from the ALA Public Programs Office, you must first create a new account in our grant administration system, Foundant. If you have already created a Foundant account, you will be taken to the Local Information section of the application after logging in.

  • Organization Information - Provide contact information for your library, including your library’s Employer Identification Number (EIN)/Tax Identification Number. 
  • User Information - Provide contact information for yourself (the person submitting the application for Resilient Communities on behalf of the library).
  • Executive Officer Question - If you are not the library’s executive officer, provide contact information for that person.
  • Password - Create a password for your Foundant account.

Local Information

Provide contact information for the Resilient Communities project director, i.e., the person who will coordinate all elements of the project on behalf of the library. This can be the same person identified as the User during account creation, or a different individual.

About the Library

Identify your library type (public or academic), total population served, community type, closest metro area, and briefly describe your community.


Provide an address for shipment of project materials, noting that this cannot be a P.O. Box.

Narrative Questions

There are six required narrative questions in this section. Each one has a character limit of 2,500. You must respond to all elements of each narrative question for your proposal to be considered competitive.

  1. Community Demographics and Goals: Describe the landscape of your community, especially in terms of community demographics and challenges/opportunities related to reaching the public with programming about climate change and sustainability. Why would your library be excited to participate in this project? Please state three leading goals for your institution/community. (Applicants may wish to review “Using Data to Understand Your Community & Measure Impact” to support community assessment and planning efforts.)
  2. Local Partnerships and Outreach: Collaboration with local organizations is important to the success of this project. Please describe the community partnership(s) that will be part of your Resilient Communities project. How will you work with partners or community leaders to break down barriers and engage underserved audiences? How will you engage stakeholders and highlight local expertise? You may provide letters of support from partnering organizations/individuals in the Uploads section; a minimum of one is required. Consider approaching partner organizations that will help expand the reach of your program series, add expertise in key areas, or connect your community with resources that the library doesn’t offer directly. Possibilities to consider include schools/school libraries, youth centers, STEM organizations, faith communities, local businesses, higher education, government agencies, permaculture nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, nonprofit social service providers, historical societies, and performing arts groups.
  3. Use of Documentaries/Docudrama: Describe your plans to use the documentaries/docudrama provided by this project. Note that grantees will be asked to convene one screening/discussion event, virtually or in-person. Please share your plans to promote these DVD resources to your community, and identify which film(s) you will screen and discuss, including why you selected it, what format your program will take, how you will promote attendance, and any key questions your program will explore.
  4. Additional Programs: Describe your plans to host two additional Resilient Communities programs. Provide as much information as possible about your program format(s); tentative scheduling information; how each program relates to your overall goals; any content that will be explored (e.g., book titles, film titles, speakers/presenters); and other relevant details. Ideas for programming can be found on the Ideas for Eligible Programs page.
  5. Climate Resilience Hub Designation: What will your library’s engagement as a Climate Resilience Hub look like? Please share details such as how/where you will distribute extreme weather preparedness information, how you will approach planning for an annual event about emergency weather preparedness, how library staff will be involved (e.g., participating in CREW- led professional development opportunities provided by this grant, reviewing and implementing library policies, and what, if any, emergency weather concerns currently affect your community. Even if your community has not been impacted by extreme weather, designating your library as a Climate Resilience Hub can help with preparedness for future weather events.
  6. History and Commitment: Please summarize your organization’s commitment to and history of programming (adult, youth, and/or family) about climate change, sustainability, and the environment. You may provide specific examples of programs/activities offered, successes and challenges, community partner involvement, and audiences engaged. If Resilient Communities will be your library’s first engagement with climate change programming, please tell us about why the time is right for you to get started now.

Upload Supporting Materials

At least one letter of support from a community partner organization and a résumé for the library project director are required. Additional support letters and/or résumés for library staff, speakers or presenters may be uploaded in this area as well.

Certify Authorization

An application for the Resilient Communities project is an application for an award from the American Library Association. ALA asks 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. You will be asked to confirm that all statements contained in the application are true and correct; and that the applicant organization is neither presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, nor voluntarily excluded from participation in this transaction by any federal department or agency. You can check the status of your institution with regard to debarment at the website of the System for Award Management.

Review and submit

  • Important Notes: if your application is not submitted, it will not be considered for the award. As well, you cannot edit your application once it has been submitted.
  • As you fill out the application, you may save your progress, by clicking “Save Application” at the bottom right corner of the application page.
    • You can download and view your application question responses as a PDF, prior to submission, by clicking the “Application Packet” button on the upper right corner of the application page.
  • Once you are satisfied with your application and all required questions have been answered, you can submit your application by clicking “Submit Application” at the bottom right corner of the application page.
  • When you submit your completed application, you will see an onscreen confirmation that your submission was successful. You will also receive an email confirmation that your application was received successfully.
  • If you have questions regarding your application after submission, email with your inquiry.

VI. Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Community interest and impact. Has the applicant established a case for why and how their community would benefit from participating in Resilient Communities? How likely is it that the proposed scope of activity will have a positive long-term effect on community preparedness, sustainability, and resilience?
  • 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 reach, inclusivity, and creativity of the library’s programming plan, as well as how likely the proposed project is to foster and/or expand upon relationships with community partner organizations and groups. How strong is the community engagement and outreach plan? Has the applicant addressed possible participation barriers for underserved communities (e.g., transportation, language, childcare)?

Other factors that may influence the final selection of libraries include the following:

  • Location of the sites. The project team would like programs to take place in all regions of the country.
  • Size and demographics of the community. The project team 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 ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Each application will be peer reviewed by a panel of programming librarians and project staff of ALA. ALA’s Public Programs Office will make the final selection decisions.

VII. Award Administration Information

Application deadline: September 10, 2020, 11:59 pm (CDT)
Award notification: September 28, 2020
Programming period: October 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021
Final report due: May 31, 2021

VIII. Points of Contact

If you have questions, contact:

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