Building Bridges

Building Bridges 2017-18 Grants Program

Program Description
How to Apply
Organizational Eligibility
Applicant Resources and Webinars
Questions and Assistance


The deadline to submit a Letter of Interest has passed. Applicants who have submitted an LOI and are invited to submit a full proposal will be notified in late November/early December. 


Program Description

The Building Bridges 2017-18 Grants Program will support planning and implementation of programs or projects that engage U.S.-based Muslim and non-Muslim populations in arts- and culture-based experiences that advance relationships and understanding. Through this approach, the program’s larger aim is to contribute toward a more just civil society and greater well-being among people.

  • A total of $1,750,000 will be awarded for projects and programs that begin between May and December of 2018.
  • Grants ranging in the amounts of $25,000 to $300,000 will be awarded over one to three years. Grants may support up to 75 percent of the total program or project budget. The total grant requested may not exceed 25 percent of the organization’s annual expense budget.
  • Grantees will receive strategic communications support for the grant period from a Building Bridges-appointed consultant.
  • Organizations that received a grant in the four previous funding cycles are eligible to apply again in this fifth cycle. However, if selected for funding again, cumulative grants may not exceed $300,000.
  • Nonprofit organizations with operating expense budgets greater than $100,000 and at least $25,000 in arts-related programming are eligible to apply as follows:
    • Organizations with annual expense budgets between $100,000 and $500,000 may apply for grants of up to $125,000 or no more than 25 percent of the annual expense budget.
    • Organizations with annual expense budgets greater than $500,000 may apply for grants up to $300,000 or no more than 25 percent of the annual expense budget.
  • Projects must take place within the United States.
  • Grants will be selected through a competitive, peer review process. The review panel will consist of external experts in the field.

Project Characteristics

Proposed projects or programs should offer engaging, immersive and interactive experiences that may be conducted in collaboration with other organizations and are tailored to the needs and interests of the specific intended audience(s). There are many ways organizations might design, structure and implement programs or projects that engage U.S.-based Muslim and non-Muslim populations through literary-, media- and/or performing arts-based experiences to foster relationships and understanding between communities. Organizations are encouraged to draw upon their core capabilities, audience knowledge and resources in the creation of their proposals. Competitive projects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of new programs informed by past experience of successful artistic programming, including international programming;
  • Expansion of existing programs that advance Building Bridges Grants Program goals.

Funded projects must have a start date between May 1, 2018 and December 1, 2018. Projects may take place over a period of one to three years from the start date.


How to Apply

The application process includes two stages. Each stage must be completed in order to progress to the next:

  1. Submit a brief preliminary proposal as a letter of interest (LOI);
  2. Following a preliminary panel review and by invitation only, submit a full proposal.

Project descriptions provided through the online Letter of Interest form should address the following questions (1,000-word maximum):

  • What is the proposed project? Who would be involved in its planning and implementation, including possible partner organizations, community groups, etc.?
  • What is your proposed project’s desired impact, and how would this impact be achieved?
  • Who is/are the target audience(s)/population(s) for the proposed project?
  • How would the project involve the literary, performing arts and/or media arts? How would artists, organizations or media resources be identified?
  • How does your proposed project help to create more understanding about Muslims and advance relationships between American Muslim and non-Muslim communities?

Invitations to submit full proposals will be issued by the end of November following review of the LOIs by a committee of experts. 


Organizational Eligibility

  • Organizations must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3) tax‐exempt status and publicly supported under IRC 509(a) or apply under a fiscal sponsor that has 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
  • Organizations may submit only one application in each grant-making round. Organizations that received a grant in the 2014-17 funding rounds are eligible to apply again in this round. If selected for funding in this round, cumulative grants will not exceed $300,000.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses greater than $100,000, of which at least $25,000 is dedicated to professional arts- or media arts-based programming. Organizations that do not meet the budget criteria may partner with another organization that does and can serve as the fiscal sponsor. Similarly, non-arts, social change-focused organizations may partner with arts organizations to apply and vice versa; however, only one organization may submit an application.
  • Organizations must have at least three years of professional experience producing or presenting literary-, media- and/or performing arts‐based programs.

Projects and Areas Not Funded

  • Requests from individuals;
  • The development, publication or distribution of books or reports;
  • Initiatives based exclusively on scholarly research or scholarly presentations;
  • Initiatives that focus solely on historical, as opposed to contemporary arts and cultures from Muslim-majority regions;
  • Film production or distribution of a single film will generally not be competitive;
  • Projects that support a performance by a single artist or single performance production will generally not be competitive;
  • The program will not support direct costs for the development and installation of exhibitions. Public programs associated with exhibitions are eligible.



The 2017-18 timeline and additional information about the application process are shown below. Please note that all deadlines will be strictly observed. No exceptions will be made. Applicants must submit all materials electronically (unless otherwise noted on the application form) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the relevant date. Online forms include clear instructions about space, formatting, etc., which must be followed. Hard copy and fax applications will not be accepted.

Application Step/Due Date Information Required Applicant Resources Process Notes

1. Submit a Letter of Interest (LOI)

DUE: Friday, September 8, 2017, 11:59 p.m. ET

Link to the LOI form.

Required Information includes:

  • Total grant amount requested
  • Narrative briefly describing:
    • The proposed project.
    • Participants to be involved in planning and implementation, including possible partner organizations, community groups, etc.
    • The desired impact of the project and how this will be achieved.
    • The target audience(s)/ population(s) for the proposed project.
    • How the project would involve the literary, media and/or performing arts. How artists, organizations or media resources would be identified.
    • How the proposed project will help create more understanding about Muslim societies and advance relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the U.S.

A slide presentation with details about the LOI application process is available below.


The LOI has a 1,000-word maximum. A detailed line item budget is not required in the LOI.

A committee will review the LOIs and invite a subset of applicants to submit full proposals; applicants will be notified in late November/early December.


2. Submit a Full Proposal (by invitation only)

DUE:  Monday, January 8, 2018, 11:59 p.m. ET

A link to the Full Proposal application form with instructions will be emailed to invited applicants.

Required information includes:

  • Total grant amount requested.
  • Full project description.
  • Project Timeline.
  • Line item budget.
  • Budget narrative.
  • Organizational documents (audited financials, board list, etc.).

Due to the high volume of applications received this year, we have extended the timeline in each stage of the competition. Applicants will be notified by the end of November if they have been invited to submit a full proposal. 

A previously scheduled online webinar has also been postponed. Please check back at the end of November for the new date. This webinar is only for applicants invited to submit full proposals. These workshops will provide additional opportunities for applicants to learn more about the elements of the full proposals and ask any remaining questions they may have.


Full proposals will be reviewed by an external expert panel that will make funding recommendations to the foundation. Panelists will consider the project concept, intended impact, quality of the arts activity and/or artists, the organization’s experience and the organization’s ability to successfully complete the project. The panel will be charged with identifying a geographic, programmatic, culturally and organizationally diverse portfolio of projects.

3. Grant Awardees notified by early March 2018



Project start between May 1, 2018 and December 1, 2018.


Applicant Resources and Webinars

A slide presentation with details about the LOI application process is linked below, as are video presentations of past and current grantees sharing their experience of the application process from prior competitive cycles.

Watch this informational video.

Presentations by previous grantees:


Questions and Assistance

All grants will be selected through a peer review process and administered by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program.  

Due to a substantial increase in requests we are unable to respond to phone inquiries. Please refer to the resources provided here including the FAQs. However, if there are any elements that are not covered here you may address your questions to:

For more information, please visit the Building Bridges Program’s Goals and Strategies page.