IMLS Issues Funding Opportunity for CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries

On May 8, the Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS) issued a new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for IMLS Cares Act Grants for Museums and Libraries (CAG-ML-FY20).

The IMLS CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries grant program invites project proposals that focus on preserving jobs, training staff, addressing the digital divide, planning for reopening, and providing technical support and capacity building for digital inclusion and engagement while prioritizing services for high-need communities. We encourage efforts to develop programs, tools, models, partnerships, and other resources that will address immediate concerns and have the potential to inspire and benefit museums and libraries throughout the nation.

Projects should address problems created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

IMLS has allocated $13.8 million for this program and anticipates making approximately 90 awards with an average size of $150,000 (and a range of $25,000 to $500,000). Cost sharing is not required.

All projects will begin on September 1, 2020, and may extend for up to two years.

Successful projects are expected to have high impact, immediate implementation, and shareable results. As with all IMLS programs, each award will be expected to support one of the three goals from the IMLS strategic plan: promote lifelong learning, build capacity, and increase public access. Projects should also demonstrate the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Applications will be submitted through with a deadline of June 12, 2020.


To qualify as a “Museum Entity,” institutions must be nonprofit entities located in the United States or territories and be an institution that “using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational, cultural heritage, or aesthetic purposes; owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; cares for these objects; and exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities that it owns or operates.” Organizations that “engage in activities designed to advance the wellbeing of museums and the museum profession” are also eligible.

In addition, institution of higher education that are responsible for the operation of a museum may apply on behalf of the museum.

Finally, museums which are located within a parent organization–such as a state or municipal government–may apply if it functions as a discrete entity within the parent organization, is able to independently fulfill eligibility requirements, and its own fully segregated budgets, and has the authority for submitting an independent application.

There is also a separate category of eligibility for Library Entities, which are described in the NOFO.


  • Application deadline: June 12, 2020 (by 11:59 p.m. ET)
  • Anticipating notification of award decisions: August 2020
  • Performance period begins: September 1, 2020 (for up to two years)

Additional Information

IMLS hosted an informational webinar on May 14. Watch the recording and read the transcript.

Additional questions from museums can be directed to Christopher J. Reich, Chief Administrator for IMLS’ Office of Museum Services.

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