Building Bridges

Building Bridges 2018-19 Grants Program

Program Description
How to Apply
Organizational Eligibility
Applicant Resources and Webinars

*For Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.

Program Description

The Building Bridges 2018-19 Grants Program will support planning and implementation of projects that engage U.S.-based Muslim and non-Muslim populations in arts- and media-based experiences designed to advance relationships and understanding for mutual well-being. 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 $2 million will be awarded in March 2019 for projects that begin between May and December of 2019.

• Grants ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 over one to three years will be awarded. Grants may support up to 75 percent of the total project budget. The total grant requested may not exceed 25 percent of the organization’s annual expense budget.

• Grantees will receive strategic communications support during the grant period from a Building Bridges Program-appointed consultant.

• 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 a total grant 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 a total grant 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 administered by the Building Bridges Program. 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 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 any international programming.

• Expansion of existing programs that advance Building Bridges Grants Program goals.

Funded projects must have a start date between May 1 and December 1, 2019. 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. Upon invitation, 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 the proposed project’s desired goal, and how would it be achieved?

• Who is/are the intended audience(s)/population(s) for the proposed project?

• How would the project involve the literary, performing arts and/or media-based disciplines? How would artists, organizations or media resources be identified?

• How does the 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 during the week of November 26-30, 2018 following review of the LOIs by a committee of experts.

Organizational Eligibility

• Applicant organizations must be able to document their tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3) and be publicly supported under IRC 509(a). Fiscal sponsors with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may apply on behalf of a project for which there is an existing fiscal sponsor relationship.

Organizations may submit (and be associated with) only one application in each grant-making round. Where two or more organizations plan to work in partnership, the applicant should be the organization that meets all the eligibility criteria and can receive and manage the grant, if funded. An organization that agrees to partner on another organization’s LOI may not also submit an LOI for its own project. Internal collaboration between departments, centers and/or multiple branch campuses within a larger organizational system is acceptable; however, only one of them may apply for a grant. In all cases, the application should describe and clarify all partnerships involved in the project.

• Organizations that received previous Building Bridges Program funding are eligible to apply again in this cycle. However, if selected for funding in this cycle, cumulative grants may not exceed $300,000. Additionally, if previous program funding totals $300,000, the organization must wait three years from the end of grant period of the last grant before reapplying. 

• 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 or, may partner with an organization that does.

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.

• Direct costs for the development and installation of exhibitions. Public programs associated with exhibitions are eligible.

• Physical infrastructure or capital campaigns.


The 2018-19 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 Stage 1:

Submit a Letter of Interest (LOI)

DUE: Thursday, August 23, 2018, 11:59 p.m. ET

Information Required

Link to the LOI form.

  • 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 goal of the project and how this will be achieved.
    • The intended 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 Muslims and advance relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the U.S.

Note: An incomplete application will not be eligible for review.

Applicant Resources

A video presentation with details about the LOI application process is linked below.

Process Notes

The LOI has a 1,000-word maximum. Organizational budgets for the current and past two fiscal years are required. A detailed line item project budget is not required in the LOI.

A committee will review the LOIs and invite a subset of applicants to submit full proposals that will be due Friday, January 4, 2019.

Invitations to submit full proposals will be issued during the week of November 26-30, 2018.

Application Stage 2:

Submit a Full Proposal (by invitation only)

DUE:  Friday, January 4, 2019, 11:59 p.m. ET

Information Required

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

  • Total grant amount requested.
  • Full project description.
  • Project Timeline.
  • Line item budget and sources of support dor the project.
  • Budget narrative.
  • Organizational documents (audited financials, board list, etc.).
  • Letters of intent to participate from partners and/or artists.

Note: An incomplete application will not be eligible for review.

Applicant Resources

An online webinar will be held on Thursday, December 6, 2018 for applicants invited to submit full proposals. It will provide additional opportunities for applicants to learn more about the elements of the full proposals and ask any remaining questions they may have.

Process Notes

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 and/or media 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.

Stage 3:

Grants Awarded

WHEN:  March 2019

Project Start Dates

Between May 1 and December 1, 2019


Applicant Resources and Webinars

An informational video 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:


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 & Strategies page.