CHALLENGE AMERICA: Application Review

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of the criteria below, with equal weight assigned to artistic excellence and artistic merit. While proposals need not address every criterion marked “as applicable,” applicants may consider all of the criteria when developing their proposals.

Proposals must be for arts projects with specific, definable activities. The application may be rejected if it does not sufficiently describe the project activities.

The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the:

  • Quality of the artists, organizations, arts education providers, works of art, or services that the project will involve and their relevance to the audience or communities being served.

The artistic merit of the project, which includes the:

  • Potential of the project to reach populations that are underserved—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
  • Potential to make quality arts or cultural resources more widely available.
  • Importance and appropriateness of the project to the organization's mission, artistic field, artists, audience, community, and/or constituency.
  • Ability of the project to grow organizational capacity and experience, as appropriate.
  • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the appropriateness of the budget, the quality and clarity of the project activities and goals, the resources involved, and the qualifications of the project's personnel.
  • Evidence of direct compensation to artists, art collectives, and/or art workers.
  • As applicable, engagement with the following constituencies as encouraged by White House Executive Orders:
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities,
    • Tribal Colleges and Universities,
    • American Indian and Alaska Native tribes,
    • African American Serving Institutions,
    • Hispanic Serving Institutions,
    • Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and
    • Organizations that support the independence and lifelong inclusion of people with disabilities.

What Happens to Your Application

Applications are evaluated according to the "Review Criteria." After processing by our staff, applications are reviewed by a diverse group of arts experts and other individuals with broad knowledge of the specific types of projects in this funding area. Following further staff review, these recommendations are forwarded to the NEA Chairman.

The Chairman reviews the recommendations for grants in all funding categories and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions.

After notification of funding decisions, applicants with questions may contact the staff. 

Any applicant whose request for funding has not been recommended may ask for an explanation of the basis for denial. In such instances, the NEA must be contacted no later than 30 calendar days after the official notification.

See the "Application Calendar" for information on when we expect to announce grant awards and rejections, and the earliest dates by which projects may begin.

'Risk Assessment: All recommended applications undergo a review to evaluate risk posed by the applicant prior to making a federal award. This may include past performance on grants, meeting reporting deadlines, compliance with terms and conditions, audit findings, etc.