Building Bridges

Building Bridges Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to FAQs about: Eligibility Criteria, The Applicant Pool and Grant Amounts, Submitting the Letter of Interest, Submitting the Full Proposal and Assessing Project Criteria and Aligning with the Program's Mission.

Eligibility Criteria

My organization has an annual operating budget of less than $100,000 and/or dedicates less than $25,000 annually to professional arts media or media arts-based programming. Can we still apply for a Building Bridges Program grant?

A smaller organization that does not fulfill financial eligibility criteria may qualify by partnering with an organization that does. One way to do so is to seek out another organization that has the necessary qualifications and that may, therefore, act as a fiscal sponsor. In this scenario, the partner organization that meets the eligibility criteria must be the direct applicant. The total grant requested may not exceed 25 percent of the applying organization’s annual expenses. Please refer to the Building Bridges Program’s eligibility criteria for more information on the necessary financial qualifications.

What size of organizations have typically won awards in past grant competition cycles?

Organizations of all sizes, from small to large, local community-based to long established national institutions, have been awarded grants. Extremely small institutions who partnered with a larger entity have also been grant recipients. In such a partnership, the organization that meets the eligibility requirements would be the applicant organization as only one organization per project may apply.

We are part of a larger organization and have little experience in this field. How might we qualify for a Building Bridges Program grant?

The organization may consider partnering with an organization which has experience with programs or projects that engage U.S.-based Muslim and non-Muslim populations through arts- and/or media arts-based experiences. In addition, or as an alternative, organizations may consider hiring a consultant to aid the curatorial process. Please refer to the Building Bridges Program’s eligibility criteria to help clarify which organization involved with the project should be the official applicant. 

Is the continuation or expansion of a previously funded project eligible?

Yes, as long as the combined cost of the past and current project does not exceed $300,000.


The Applicant Pool and Grant Amounts

How many Letters of Interest (LOI) were received in previous cycles of this grant competition?

In the previous cycle of this grant competition, approximately 100 LOIs were received.

How many LOIs advanced to final review?

On average, 40-60 percent of organizations were invited to advance to the full proposal stage.

How many grants are awarded annually?

It differs every year, depending on the collective size of the projects selected. In the last grants cycle 11 organizations received funding. This year, we expect to award grants to five to 15 organizations. 

What is the average amount of these grants and/or the total amount of these grants?

In the 2016-17 cycle, the average grant award amount was $156,000. In this past cycle, three of 11 grantees received awards of less than $100,000. In all four prior competitions, the average grant award amount was $180,000.


Submitting the Letter of Interest

What is the Building Bridges Program’s definition of “impact”? What kind of information should an applicant include with regard to “impact”?

The Building Bridges Program defines impact as assessable results, whether these outcomes are measured quantitatively, qualitatively, or both. Applicants should specify how and why their chosen methodology for measuring impact is the best approach for evaluating their progress against their specific project goals. Applicants should also be clear about how they define project success.

Goals may be either short-term or long-term, but it is helpful to articulate how they will be tracked. The proposed project may be the first in a series of future projects that lead toward a larger goal. Applicants should be clear about what they hope to accomplish during the grant period itself and, if applicable, beyond it. 

If working with artists, does an applicant organization need a confirmed list of participating artists at the LOI stage?

At the LOI stage, the artists do not have to be confirmed. However, applications are more competitive if they can indicate that a conversation has been initiated with the proposed artists to determine their interest in and availability for the project. (The full proposal stage will require applicants to clearly identify their artists. At that stage, letters of intent to participate from the artists are requested.)

Does every partnering organization need to submit an individual LOI, or should the primary organization submit an LOI?

Only one organization can submit an LOI per project, and this should be the organization that meets all the eligibility criteria and would receive and manage the grant, if funded. However, the application should describe and clarify all partnerships involved in the project.

What components of the LOI carry the most weight in the evaluation to advance to full proposals?

Each application is assessed based on the strength of its alignment with the guidelines, criteria and mission of the Building Bridges Program. All applications are reviewed by a panel of external experts who then provide recommendations to the Building Bridges Program staff on which applicants should advance to the next stage.

What does the LOI budget include? Does it include revenue and expenses?

The LOI budget form requires the following figures for the past three years, starting with the current year:

  1. Total operating income;
  2. Total operating expenses;
  3. Total surplus and/or deficit per fiscal year;
  4. Arts/media-based programming and related expenses;
  5. The organization’s budget over the last three years;
  6. A list of up to 10 of the largest grants received in the last three years

Please note: The project budget that you include at the LOI stage may be adjusted upwards at the Full Proposal stage if needed. However, the budget can be increased no more than an additional 20 percent.


Submitting the Full Proposal

How much of the project budget must the applicant be able to cover?

The applicant must be able to cover at least 25 percent of the overall project budget with funds from sources other than the Building Bridges Program.

Should we include program staff salaries in the budget?

Yes, the budget should include the salaries of all staff spending 100 percent of their time on this project and can also include the relevant percentage of the salary of any staff members that devote a substantial portion of their time to specific parts of the project.

The budget should not include the salaries for any staff performing non-project-related tasks or devoting only an incidental amount of time to the project (e.g., accounting staff, fundraising staff, operations, etc.). Such expenditures would instead be covered by the indirect cost allowance.

What is the standard percentage that the Building Bridges Program allows for indirect costs?

Indirect costs cannot exceed 12 percent of direct costs. Indirect costs include rent, mortgage, support equipment, support service departments (e.g., general administration, development, finance), or other organizational costs applicable to all programs and activities of the organization that are not directly attributable to this project.

What else is required in order to submit the Full Proposal Budget Template?

Applicants will also be asked to provide a narrative description of the budget with their proposal in addition to completing all applicable line items in the Full Proposal Budget Template. 

How will the budget sheet be organized?

The Full Proposal Budget Template comes with instructions as well as formulas already installed to aid applicants in their calculations. There are several different worksheets for the applicant to complete.

It is in the applicant’s interest to be as thorough as possible in completing the template. Having a clear financial plan at the onset of a project facilitates project implementation.

In the Full Proposal Budget Template, applicants should:

  1. Provide the total project budget;
  2. Provide a breakdown of funds expected from other sources;
  3. Specify the exact amount requested from the Building Bridges Program;
  4. Specify how funds from the Building Bridges Program will be used for each year of the project.

My organization does not have audited financial statements.  What documents can be submitted in their place?

Organizations can submit their IRS 990 Tax Filings, Income and Expense statements that have been reviewed by an accountant, or annual budget reports provided to their boards.  In all cases, an explanation of why no audited statements are available must also be submitted.

If we have questions about the online application, who should we contact?

You can reach out to Building Bridges Program staff via email at Before doing so, please allow yourself time to familiarize with the application form, the requirements for upload and the proposal budget template. That way, if questions arise, staff will be able to devote ample time to properly address your concerns. 

While working on the online application, is there a way to save our work?

Two great features to take advantage of while working on the application are the “Save and Finish Later” tool and the “E-mail Draft” function. These features are helpful to applicants as they take time to fine-tune all the components of their submission, but are not quite ready to hit “Submit” yet.


Assessing Project Criteria and Aligning with the Program's Mission

Can Building Bridges Program funding be used for both Muslim and non-Muslim artists?

Artists may be Muslim or non-Muslim, but must ultimately have cultural roots in Muslim regions. Projects that align with the program’s mission and the program’s criteria for support are eligible to receive funding.  

Can the project be multi-disciplinary?


Do you fund visual art exhibitions?

We do not fund visual art exhibitions. However, public education programs that deepen and contextualize a viewer’s experience of an exhibition are eligible for support.

How important is a project’s sustainability after the grant period has ended?

The Building Bridges Program grant competition does not have specific requirements for sustaining the project beyond the grant period. However, it is hoped that related programming will continue. Please feel free to include any details you may have regarding your project’s life beyond the grant period.

My organization has received Building Bridges Program funding totaling $300,000 from past competition rounds, are we eligible to apply in the 2017-18 round?

Organizations that have received BBP grant support totaling $300,000 should wait three years from receipt of the last grant before reapplying.