CHALLENGE AMERICA: Grant Program Description

These are expired guidelines. New Challenge America guidelines will be posted in mid-December. Do not begin working on your application until the new guidelines are posted as the requirements have changed.

The Challenge America category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations -- those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Age alone (e.g., youth, seniors) does not qualify a group as underserved; at least one of the underserved characteristics noted above also must be present. Grants are available for professional arts programming and for projects that emphasize the potential of the arts in community development.

This category encourages and supports the following objective:

  • Engagement: Engaging the public with diverse and excellent art.

Challenge America grants:

  • Extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations.
  • Are limited to the specific types of projects outlined below.
  • Are for a fixed amount of $10,000 and require a minimum $10,000 match.

Partnerships can be valuable to the success of these projects. While not required, applicants are encouraged to consider partnerships among organizations, both in and outside of the arts, as appropriate to their project.

To ensure that Challenge America funding reaches new organizations and communities, the NEA has implemented a policy to limit consecutive-year funding.

Starting with grants that were awarded in FY 2013 (as indicated by a grant letter dated on or after October 1, 2012, and a grant number beginning with "13 - 78"), an organization that receives Challenge America grants for three years in a row is not eligible to apply to the category for the following one-year period. Therefore, an organization that has received grants in FY 2014, 2015, and 2016 may not apply under these FY 2017 guidelines. That organization may apply for FY 2017 support under other Arts Endowment funding opportunities including Art Works. The organization would be able to apply to the Challenge America category again in FY 2018.


Step 1 - Submit SF-424 to April 14, 2016
Step 2 - Submit Materials to NEA-GO April 28, 2016 to 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time on May 5, 2016
Earliest Beginning Date for National Endowment for the Arts Period of Performance January 1, 2017

If your organization applies to the Challenge America category, it may not submit another application to the Art Works category, except for a Creativity Connects project. See "Applicant Eligibility/Application Limits" for further information.


Challenge America Specialists: or 202/682-5700