OUR TOWN: Eligibility

All applications are submitted by one organization (the eligible applicant) and require one partner organization (the required partner). The applicant/partner pair must include 1) a nonprofit organization and 2) a local government or quasi-government entity. The pair will provide leadership for the project. Additional partners across all sectors are encouraged.

Eligible Applicant

The applicant organization must meet the eligibility requirements, and will submit the application and assume full responsibility for the grant.
The following entities are eligible to serve as the applicant:

  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations;
  • Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education;
  • Units of local government; or
  • Federally recognized tribal communities or tribes.

To be eligible, the applicant organization must:

  • Meet the NEA’s "Legal Requirements" including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application. (All organizations must apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent are not allowed. See more information on fiscal sponsors/agents.)

  • Have completed a three-year history of programming prior to the application deadline.

    • Programming must have started in or before August 2020.
    • For the purpose of defining eligibility, "three-year history" refers to when an organization began its programming, and not when it incorporated or received nonprofit, tax-exempt status.
    • You will be asked to provide examples of previous programming in the application.
    • Programming is not required to have taken place during consecutive years.
    • Organizations that previously operated as a program of another institution may include arts programming it carried out while part of that institution for its three-year history.
  • Have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) assigned by the System for Award Management (SAM, www.sam.gov), be registered with SAM, and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award. Partner organizations are not required to have a SAM registration or UEI.

Required Partnership

Note that some types of organizations can only serve as a required partner and not as the eligible applicant:

If the eligible applicant is a…

They must have a…

Nonprofit organization:

  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
  • Nonprofit Institution of Higher Education

Local government partner:

  • A unit of local government
  • A quasi-government entity
  • Federally recognized tribal communities or tribes

Local government entity:

  • Units of local government
  • Federally recognized tribal communities or tribes

Nonprofit partner:

  • A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
  • Nonprofit Institution of Higher Education


Nonprofit organization: tax-exempt 501(c)(3) U.S. organizations.

Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education: public and private universities and colleges with nonprofit status, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Predominately Black Institutions, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Units of local government: departments of parish, town, village, or county governments, local arts agencies, tribal communities or tribes, local education agencies or school districts.

  • For U.S. Territories, if no local government exists, the territory government can serve as the local government.
  • If a single school also is a local education agency, as is the case with some charter schools, the school may apply with documentation that supports its status as a local education agency. Otherwise, individual elementary or secondary schools (charter, private, or public) are not eligible applicants or required partners but may participate as additional partners in projects for which another eligible organization applies.

Quasi-government entity: regional governments, special districts, housing authorities, public utility commissions, city council or alderman offices, rural or regional planning organizations, or business improvement districts

Additional Partnerships

Additional partners are strongly encouraged. Additional partners can come from across all sectors (private, nonprofit, public) and from any field (arts, non-arts), and can include organizations such as community foundations or other partners that can help to advance the project’s goals.

As a program of the NEA, Our Town seeks to support projects that clearly center arts, culture, and design. As such, if neither the nonprofit organization nor the local government entity has the requisite arts, culture, and/or design expertise necessary to carry out the project and distinct arts activities proposed, then you must include at least one additional committed partner that does.

Application Restrictions

Late, ineligible, and incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

An organization may serve as the eligible applicant on two (2) applications to Our Town.

A partnering organization may serve as a partner on as many applications as they like.

If more than one application is submitted from an eligible applicant or within the same geographic area, the capacity of the applicant organization or geographic area to carry out and sustain multiple Our Town projects will be considered in the review of the applications.

Other NEA Funding Opportunities

You may apply to other NEA Fiscal Year 2024 funding opportunities, including Grants for Arts Projects in addition to Our Town. If you submit applications to other opportunities, each request must be for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of a project.

If you have other NEA awards or pending applications with activities and/or periods of performance that will overlap with you proposed Our Town project, contact Our Town staff (OT@arts.gov) for guidance to ensure that the projects are different or for a distinctly different phase of a project.

If you have applied to the NEA in the past and were not recommended for funding, you may apply again to any funding opportunity, including Our Town.