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Community Partnership Grants

Introduction and Details | Application Form | Projects | Resources

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS For Community Partnership Grants to Assist American Studies Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Community Projects

The American Studies Association is pleased to invite individual and institutional members of the association to apply to the ASA Community Partnership Program for grants to support collaborative interdisciplinary community projects utilizing American Studies pedagogy, curriculum, research, and other resources. The grants will support projects developed in collaboration with community-based organizations, school districts, public libraries, local historical societies, community museums, and other non-profit entities. Local communities have a wide range of educational and cultural needs that have not been met through traditional academic or community-based programs because of language, cultural and other barriers. The grants are intended to bridge this gap by more fully engaging American Studies practitioners in genuine collaborations with community organizations and the constituents they serve to provide new cultural and educational opportunities.


The grants will be available for projects where there is substantial participant-defined engagement, collaboration, and reciprocity between ASA members and the communities they represent, encounter, or visit. Funded projects must demonstrate a collaborative working relationship with local community-based groups or organizations. The Association will give preference to projects that indicate a likelihood of continuation of activities to enhance American Studies involvement in local program activities beyond the grant period. Awards will range from $500.00 to $3,000.00.[1]

What are the objectives of the grants?

The American Studies Association’s Community Partnership Project intends to make awards to collaborative projects involving community-based organizations to enhance the use of American Studies research, teaching, and publications in local programs and activities. The grants are also intended to enhance American Studies involvement in the ongoing work of community-based organizations while simultaneously strengthening the relationship between the ASA and those organizations. Grants will only be awarded to projects where there is a substantial use of American Studies educational and cultural resources. The Association will give preference to projects that raise matching funds.

Recipients of partnership grants must state in publicity and dissemination materials that the project is funded in part by the American Studies Association.

The Association will give priority to projects that meet at least one of the following objectives:

Innovative Projects to develop or expand American Studies participation in community projects and activities that provide participants with new or expanded educational and cultural opportunities. We are interested in funding projects that address any of a wide range of educational and cultural needs (i.e. research, curricular, interpretative, publication, artistic, performance, exhibit issues, etc.) Projects must show coordination with other programs currently providing educational and cultural opportunities to local communities. Projects must also demonstrate adequate methods of quality control.

Community-Based Research Projects that develop American Studies resources and materials for educational and cultural programs and activities.Projects must explain who their audience will be and what specific mechanisms for educating participants will be utilized (including an indication of how access to these groups will be achieved—i.e. if serving a detained population). Projects must clearly demonstrate how American Studies practitioners will be involved.

Civic Participation Projects that provide training, referral, recruitment, and mentoring for ASA members involved in community-based partnerships to develop local cultural and educational opportunities, resources and materials. These projects should show how their efforts enhance ongoing cultural and educational programs and/or increase the involvement of the American Studies practitioners in relating to local organizations and their constituents.

Social Change Projects that increase American Studies involvement in establishing, protecting, or expanding the educational and cultural opportunities and rights of local communities. Projects must show specifically how they will accomplish this, including coordination with ongoing efforts addressing these issues in the community. If specific American Studies faculty or programs are targeted for volunteer involvement in social change efforts, evidence of their interest and support should be included.

What are examples of types of projects that will be funded?

Only proposals that demonstrate a substantial use of American Studies resources in the community and a collaborative working relationship with existing community groups and organizations will be funded. Preference will be given to proposals that indicate a plan for long-term continuation of the project.

Below is a list of types of projects that might be funded. This list is not exhaustive. The Association is interested in creative approaches to increase American Studies involvement and welcomes proposals outlining projects both similar to and different from those listed. In addition, the Association is aware that effective projects will need to be tailored to local needs.

  1. Reading and discussion groups in libraries, correctional institutions, public agencies, shelters, and schools.
  2. Curriculum workshops in local schools; local summer institutes for K-12 educators; creation and dissemination of lesson plans, including web-based projects. Innovative interplay of technology and American Studies in the schools.
  3. Public art projects—visual and performing—at community centers, housing projects, and schools.
  4. Community history projects in the form of conducting interviews and/or collecting photographs that would serve as the foundation for a public exhibit. An example is the “Shades of LA” project whereby the LA County Library, aided by UCLA graduate students and faculty, set up shop in racial/ethnic community centers and solicited family photographs. A popular and powerful exhibit and book were the concrete results.
  5. “American Studies to Go.” This departmental program would offer after school ‘short courses’ to interested educators. Work with the extended education unit on campus to ensure that teachers receive continuing education units.
  6. Research internships for undergraduates and graduate students in community-based organizations or other non-profit entities.
  7. Research requested by a community-based organization or other non-profit. (e.g. American Studies research on AIDS/HIV and the Asian American communities).
  8. Community conversations. These ASA-sponsored events would bring together interested scholars (faculty and graduate students) with staff of community-based organizations and other non-profits to discuss appropriate collaborative projects of mutual concern and benefit.
  9. Building on Existing Initiatives. The Community Partnership Project could contribute to on-going partnerships, e.g. state humanities councils’ reading and discussion groups, or community history and writing projects
  10. Sharing Stories; Creating Resources. Building partnerships between American Studies scholars and public schools in under-served communities. Working with the local school district, gather a team of bilingual graduate students to interview the migrant farm-worker parents of the children who attend a local elementary school. Children would also be involved in interviewing family members. The oral histories and stories would then be crafted into bilingual children’s books to be disseminated to the families and to the teachers. This type of project could be adapted and modified in a myriad of ways to serve children in meaningful and creative ways..

Who May Apply?

This request for proposals is intended for all individual and institutional members of the American Studies Association. In addition, ASA regional chapters, committees, boards, and task forces may apply, provided they demonstrate substantial ASA member involvement. Previous recipients of grants may apply but preference will be given to those undertaking new initiatives. The grants are not intended to serve as an ongoing source of funding but rather as seed money to start projects that will then be sustained by other local resources. Proposals must demonstrate a strong working relationship with local organizations providing American studies resources and materials to their constituents. This request for proposals is not intended for use by national or international organizations.

What funding is available?

The ASA intends to award a limited number of grants ranging from $500.00 to $3,000.00. Priority will be given to proposals that indicate (a) a plan for long term continuation of the project, (b) available matching grants, and (c) active attempts to solicit additional funds for the project. Given the limits of the awards, the ASA Community Partnership Grants may not be used to purchase durable equipment or to subsidize anyone’s salary.

What is the period of the grant?

The grants are for twelve months – July 1, 2016- through June 30, 2017. However, in evaluating proposals, the ASA will give priority to those suggesting continuing activities beyond the grant period to enhance the community’s involvement in delivery of American Studies resources and materials. Project evaluation and financial reports are due thirty (30) days after the completion of the ASA-funded portion of the project.

How and When to Apply?

One (1) copy of the attached application form plus a six-paged, double-spaced narrative proposal must be submitted to the ASA Community Partnership Project, by March 1, 2016.

The narrative should include: statement of need (including description of geographical and population demographics of target community), project objectives, project description, relation of project’s work to ongoing efforts by other organizations to provide American Studies resources and materials to local communities, capacity of sponsoring organization(s), plans for project continuation beyond the grant period, plans to publicize project’s work within the local community, budget (including matching support), and appendices (including letters of support and cooperation from local organizations serving the affected community).

A complete package of the application materials, including letters of support, must be postmarked by March 1, 2016 and mailed to: ASA Community Partnership Project, 1120 19th Street, NW Suite #301, Washington, D.C. 20036.

All application materials should be assembled by the submitter(s) and submitted additionally to the ASA electronically in the form of a single PDF to asastaff@theasa.net.

Who Reviews the Proposals and what are the Selection Criteria?

The Executive Committee of the ASA Council will make all final funding decisions based on the following criteria:

  1. Clear demonstration of need for the project, including number of beneficiaries in region in need of this service and coordination of project with existing organizations delivering American Studies resources and materials to constituencies (i.e. fills gap in existing services; avoids duplication or conflict with existing programs);
  2. Proposal clearly responds to one of the objectives set out above in Section 1; priority will be given to proposals responding to objective (a);
  3. Clear demonstration, through letters of support and other commitments of cooperation, that the project will work closely with other relevant educational programs, American Studies entities, and local community organizations working with the targeted communities;
  4. Proposal clearly demonstrates that project activities will be carried out in a timely and efficient manner;
  5. Proposal indicates a likelihood of continuation of activities to enhance American Studies involvement in community-based educational and cultural programs;
  6. Proposal details how the project will publicize the funded activities within the local community (i.e. articles in journals, newsletters, or other press);
  7. Proposal clearly states how project will be staffed and describes the experience the staff has with similar type of projects;
  8. Proposed project targets a diverse constituency;
  9. Proposal is innovative in concept, delivery or impact; in particular, proposals addressing any of a broad range of educational and cultural needs of constituents are welcome;
  10. Proposed activities are replicable, or usable by other interested groups throughout the country.

Please be sure to follow the instructions. If you have any questions please contact the ASA Office of Executive Director at (202) 467-4783 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We look forward to your response.

A complete package of the application materials, including letters of support, must be postmarked by March 1, 2016 and mailed to: ASA Community Partnership Project, 1120 19th Street, NW Suite #301, Washington, D.C. 20036.

All application materials should be assembled by the submitter(s) and submitted additionally to the ASA electronically in the form of a single PDF via the online submission form found here: Online Submission Form.  You may also ship the application PDF via Dropbox to (asastaff@theasa.net).

[1] Although projects that have previously been awarded grants from the ASA Community Partnership Project may apply, preference will be given to individual and institutional members undertaking new initiatives. The grants are intended for use as “seed” money rather than as an ongoing source of funding.