The NEA envisions a nation where every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education, which is vital to developing America's next generation of creative and innovative thinkers. The field of Arts Education is a complex, interconnected ecosystem that supports arts learning at the federal, state, and local levels. This includes national service organizations, state departments of education, state arts agencies, and local school districts, as well as arts organizations, youth service organizations, health and human services organizations, juvenile justice systems, local businesses, and philanthropic organizations. Elected officials, education policy makers, creative industry professionals, artists, educators, teaching artists, and families also play vital roles in this multifaceted ecosystem.

The NEA strengthens this ecosystem by supporting projects for pre-K-12 students (Direct Learning), the educators and teaching artists who support them (Professional Development), and the schools and communities that serve them (Collective Impact). Learning may take place in school, after school, and out of school in rural, urban, suburban, and tribal communities. Funding is focused on closing the opportunity gap for students for whom a high-quality arts education is so often out of reach. We encourage collaborative projects from arts education and non-arts education organizations.

Projects submitted to Arts Education may include activities in any artistic discipline and should incorporate robust measures to assess learning aligned with state or national core arts standards. Projects for short-term arts exposure, arts appreciation, or intergenerational activity should not be submitted under Arts Education; rather, they should be submitted to one of the other artistic disciplines. If you have questions about whether you should apply under Arts Education or another discipline, read Choosing the Right Discipline for Educational Projects.

Competitive Arts Education proposals will address elements as stated in the application review criteria, and:

  • Align with the NEA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility;
  • Engage students over an extended period of time to deepen the arts learning experience for students by offering fresh insights and adding new value to the field. Short-term projects will not be competitive;
  • Increase student participation in arts education through the use of innovative strategies or scaled up proven methodologies;
  • Incorporate robust measures to assess student and/or teacher learning in arts education;
  • Reflect the cultural experiences of the participants;
  • Demonstrate national, regional, or field-wide significance. This includes local projects that can have significant impact within communities or are likely to demonstrate best practices for the field;
  • Use data to inform programmatic decision making;
  • Include effective community partnerships or working within a larger system or community effort to benefit students in that system;
  • For ongoing programs, describe how the project is evolving or expanding existing arts education services.

Applicants may request cost share/matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

For information on how to submit an application, see “How to Apply” on the left.

Project Types

Direct Learning Grants

Projects support arts instruction for students, generally pre-K through 12th grade, that result in increased knowledge and skills in the arts and may occur in-person or online. Activities may be offered during or outside the regular school day schedule by school districts, arts organizations, or non-arts organizations or agencies in partnership with artists and/or arts groups. Projects may take place in locations such as schools (including charter schools), arts organizations, community centers, faith-based organizations, makerspaces, public housing, tribal community centers, and/or juvenile justice facilities.

Direct Learning projects should address each of the following elements:

  • Experience: Participants experience exemplary works of art—in live form where possible—to gain increased knowledge and skills in the art form;
  • Create: Informed by their experience in an art form, participants will create or perform art;
  • Assess: Student learning is measured and assessed in alignment with either national core arts standards or state arts education standards. Explain how you plan to measure increased knowledge and skills in the arts. Where appropriate, describe how you use the arts to address other student outcomes, such as creative youth development, college and career readiness, student well-being and resilience, or other outcomes that affect change in school or community culture. Before applying, review the reporting requirements for Arts Education

Professional Development Grants

Projects equip classroom teachers, arts specialists, teaching artists, school/district administrators, other educators, and community leaders with the knowledge, skills and confidence to effectively engage students in high quality, curriculum-based arts learning, and improve instruction.

Professional Development projects should include each of the following elements:

  • Experience: Participants have an experience in or through the arts;
  • Study: Participants are engaged in a sustained, in-depth course of study;
  • Evaluate: Participant learning is evaluated and the impact of the professional development on practice is measured. Before applying, review the reporting requirements for Arts Education 

Collective Impact Grants

Projects transform schools and communities by providing access and engagement in the arts for all students through collective, systemic approaches. Projects aim to ensure that all students across entire neighborhoods, schools, school districts, and/or states—in communities of all sizes—participate in the arts over time. Collective Impact grants are higher award amounts for longer term, large-scale projects that create lasting systems change tailored to community needs, fundamentally altering the ways in which the components and structures of a system behave and interact over time. Projects should have significant potential to be shared and customized in communities across the country.

See further details about this project type. Applicants considering submission of a Collective Impact application are strongly encouraged to contact Arts Education Specialist Denise Brandenburg at

In some cases, a project that involves arts education may be better suited for review in another discipline. Review the Artistic Disciplines page for more information, including guidance on educational projects.

For questions, including help choosing the right discipline, contact NEA staff:

Direct Learning Projects:
Music, Opera: Denise Brandenburg, or 202-682-5044
Dance, Literary Arts, Musical Theater, Theater: Nancy Daugherty, or 202-682-5521
Design, Folk & Traditional Arts,  Media Arts, Museums, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works, Visual Arts: Lakita Edwards, or 202-682-5704

Professional Development Projects:
Nancy Daugherty, or 202-682-5521

Collective Impact Projects:
Denise Brandenburg, or 202-682-5044

Compliance Reminders:

The NEA is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups. Please note the following:

  • Civil Rights Laws and Policies: As a reminder, in the federal-funding context, a focus on a particular group or demographic may be permissible, but exclusion is not. This extends to hiring practices, artist selection processes, and audience engagement. Your application should make it clear that project activities are not exclusionary. Please review the Assurance of Compliance, as well as NEA Civil Rights guidance on our website, including this archived webinar: Things to Know Before You Apply: Federal Civil Rights and Your Grants Application.
  • Accessibility: Federal regulations require that all NEA-funded projects be accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities may be audiences, visitors, artists, performers, teaching artists, students, staff, and volunteers. Funded activities should be held in a physically accessible venue, and program access and effective communication should be provided for participants and audience members with disabilities. If your project is recommended for funding, you will be asked to provide detailed information describing how you will make your project physically and programmatically accessible to people with disabilities.
  • National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act Review: Recommended projects may be subject to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and/or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance review. See more information about NHPA/NEPA review under Award Administration.


Grants for Arts Projects applications will be accepted at two deadlines. All project types (described above) are accepted at both deadlines. Apply at the deadline that most closely fits the schedule of activities or timeline of your proposed project. Generally, an organization is limited to one application per year in the Grants for Arts Projects category.

First Grants for Arts Projects Deadline:

Part 1 - Submit to

February 15, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Prepare application material so that it’s ready to upload when the Applicant Portal opens

Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal

February 21-28, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection

November 2024

Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project

January 1, 2025

Second Grants for Arts Projects Deadline:

Part 1 - Submit to

July 11, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Prepare application material so that it’s ready to upload when the Applicant Portal opens

Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal

July 16-23, 2024 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Earliest Announcement of Grant Award or Rejection

April 2025

Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project

June 1, 2025