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Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Amplifying Unheard Voices

Grants to USA and Canada Nonprofit, Academic, and Community-Based
Organizations to Create Digital Historical and Cultural Content

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

11/19/21 11:59 PM Eastern


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Grants to USA, territories, and Canada nonprofit, independent, academic, and community-based organizations for the creation of digital representations of unique historical and cultural materials. An initial application must be submitted prior to the final application. Funding is intended for digitization projects of content that increases public understanding of the histories of people of color and other communities and populations whose work, experiences, and perspectives have been insufficiently recognized or unattended.

These often “hidden” histories include, but are not limited to, those of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other People of Color; Women; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Non-binary, and other Genderqueer people and communities; Immigrants; Displaced populations; Blind, Deaf, and Disabled people and communities; and Colonized, Disenfranchised, Enslaved, and Incarcerated people.

The program coheres around five Core Values:

Public Knowledge

The program fuels the creation and dissemination of digitized special collections and archives as a public good.

Broad Representation

The program supports digitization projects that will thoughtfully capture and share the untapped stories of people, communities, and populations who are underrepresented in digital collections in ways that contribute to a more complete understanding of human history.

Authentic Partnerships

The program prioritizes projects that foreground meaningful engagement with the underserved communities whose stories the source materials tell, and that build inclusive teams across institutional and geographic boundaries.

Sustainable Infrastructures

The program promotes forward-thinking strategies ensuring the long-term availability, discoverability, and interconnectedness of digitized content.

Community-Centered Access

The program advocates for approaches to access, description, and outreach that make digitized content as widely available and useful as possible within legal and ethical constraints, centering digital inclusion and respect for materials’ local contexts.

Eligible Projects:

This program supports the digitization of rare and unique historical and cultural materials in a variety of formats and the creation and promotion of online access to those materials. Any expenditures of program funds must be directly related to these purposes.

Materials nominated for digitization through this program must be owned and held by an eligible organization prepared to abide by the program’s award terms.

Materials that are in the public domain in analog form must continue to be in the public domain once they have been digitized. CLIR strongly encourages grant recipients to share digitized collections as public domain resources or with Creative Commons licenses, as appropriate.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 195724

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

- U.S. organizations and U.S.-led partnerships may request any amount between USD $50,000 and USD $350,000.
- Canadian organizations and Canada-led partnerships may request any amount between CAD $50,000 and CAD $350,000.

Term of Contract:

Project duration:
- Funded projects may last 12, 24, or 36 months.
- Projects must begin on May 1 or June 1, 2022.
- Projects must be completed by May 31, 2025.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

This program is for nonprofit, academic, independent, and community-based organizations in the US and Canada that collect, preserve, and share rare and unique materials with the general public. Eligible organizations must propose eligible projects falling within the program’s scope and be prepared to abide by the program’s award terms.

Eligible organizations in the US. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands may apply, and eligible organizations in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut may also apply.

Applicant organizations and any collaborating organizations must fall under one of the following categories and meet the requirements for that category:

- US organizations that fit the above description must also be tax-exempt under
-- IRS Code Section 501(c)3;
-- IRS Code Section 115; or
-- IRS Code Section 170(c)1.

- Canadian organizations that fit the above description must be
-- a current registered charity listed by the Canada Revenue Agency; and/or
-- a designated educational institution recognized as eligible to receive Canada Student Loans.

- Federal, state, provincial, territorial, municipal, tribal, or indigenous government units may also be eligible, provided they can present evidence that collecting, preserving, and sharing rare and unique materials with the general public is part of the purpose and normal functioning of the unit. Government organizations should email and confirm their ability to demonstrate eligibility prior to preparing and submitting a proposal.

Two or more eligible organizations may apply to collaborate on a project. When two or more organizations collaborate, one of the organizations must be appointed as the lead applicant, accepting responsibility for project oversight and the management of grant funds.

Recipient organizations, including any collaborating organizations, must not claim additional rights or impose additional access fees or restrictions to the digital files created through the project, beyond those already required by law or existing agreements. Exceptions may be made for those materials in the public domain without the express wishes of local, traditional, and indigenous source communities.

Pre-Application Information:

All Initial Applications must be submitted through the official online application form by April 30, 2021 at 11:59 pm Eastern.

Key Dates:
- March 1, 2021: Initial Application Phase Begins; Application guidelines and form become available
- March 17: Applicant Webinar
- March 30: Applicant Q&A I
- April 14: Applicant Q&A II
- April 30: Initial Application Deadline; Last day to submit proposals for open application call
- July 30: Initial Applicant Notification: Applicants notified of advancement; final application opens for those invited.
- November 19: Final Application Deadline; Full proposals submitted (for invited applicants only)
- April 1, 2022: Final Applicant Notification; Applicants notified of awards; public announcement follows

Additional stipulations:
- A head administrator at each recipient organization, including any collaborating organizations, must sign an intellectual property agreement with CLIR, through which they will assume full responsibility for any violations of intellectual property or other applicable laws resulting from project activities.
- All metadata created through the program must be explicitly dedicated to the public domain through a Creative Commons Public Domain Declaration Waiver (CC0). For information, see here: Exceptions may be made for culturally sensitive metadata or sensitive personal information.

Organizations may submit more than one proposal, but each proposal must have a unique principal investigator.

Applicant Resources:

Applicant Webinar video:

Applicant Q&A I video:

Applicant Q&A II video:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

Questions may be directed to

For questions about webinars, please contact the Webinar host at

Council on Library and Information Resources
211 North Union Street, Suite 100-PMB 1027,
Alexandria, VA 22314

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;

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