Call for Proposals: Community-Based Archives

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation invites community-based archives in the United States and its territories to submit applications for its 2020 Call for Proposals to Community-Based Archives. For the purposes of this call, community-based archives are defined as collections of materials gathered, collected, and shared primarily by members of a marginalized community to document their collective histories. These archives play an important role in combatting what UCLA Assistant Professor of Archival Studies Michelle Caswell calls the "symbolic annihilation" of marginalized communities from mainstream memory institutions, and in recognizing that they are essential to the creation of a more inclusive and polyvocal American story.  These grants will provide support to archives in one or more of the following areas of need:

  • Operational costs, including staff, space, and utilities.
  • Collections care, including the acquisition of new materials, physical and digital storage fees, and access and preservation efforts.
  • Programming activities, including events, exhibitions, and publications.

This funding opportunity is overseen by the Foundation's Scholarly Communications program.

In 2019, the Foundation announced its plan to offer a total of $1 million over two annual open calls for proposals in direct support of community-based archives.  The first call resulted in submissions from over 200 organizations located in 40 states and two US territories.  In response to this clear evidence of interest and need, the original pledge of support was more than doubled, and more than $1.2 million was awarded to the first cohort of 15 archives.

This year, $1 million in grants for a second cohort of archives will be given, and a third consecutive call for proposals is planned for 2021.

The 2020 Call for Proposals to Community-Based Archives is now open.  Through this program, direct support will be provided to community-based archives that represent and serve communities marginalized due to oppression based on race, ethnicity, national origin, class, gender, sexuality, religion, or ability. 

Applications will be due by July 1, 2020 at 11:59pm ET.  They will then be evaluated by a panel that includes Foundation staff and external reviewers.  All applicants will be notified of the status of their submission by September 4, 2020.  If selected, additional information and materials will be requested in a final proposal to be reviewed by the Foundation's Board of Trustees.

Awards will range from $50,000 to $100,000 for grants of two years in length.  Grant periods would begin January 1, 2021 and end on December 31, 2022.  The Foundation plans to convene representatives from the awarded archives both in person and online over the course of the grant to build a cohort of organizations that would help and learn from each other.