Building Bridges

Building Bridges 2020 Grants Program

Program Description

Organizational Eligibility

Project Characteristics

Criteria for Support 

How to Apply


Applicant Resources


*The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art understands that you and your organization may be facing operational impacts as a result of the COVID‐19 virus and that your programming and plans may shift over the coming months to adapt to the environment. Throughout this competition and grant-making process, the Building Bridges Program will remain flexible and adaptive as the environment around this crisis evolves.

The Building Bridges Program Team invites you to join us on Friday, April 3 at 2 PM EST for an online Town Hall meeting where we will actively listen to urgent and near-term needs resulting from COVID-19. Please complete the survey in order to register for the online Town Hall.

This session was originally scheduled to address pre-application questions for the current grant competition. We are realigning it to learn more specifically about applicants’ organizational needs. The town hall session will be an opportunity for organizations to share current concerns, needs and questions, as well as any emerging ideas/solutions to sustain practice(s) via the digital space and/or a hybrid of digital plus live activities.

As part of this process we have created a brief survey to obtain some background information before our session. The survey responses are confidential. Information gathered by the Building Bridges Program will remain strictly private. The purpose is to help us to understand needs and how we can reflect those in grantmaking strategies.

By completing the survey, you will be automatically registered for the webinar. Please complete it by Wednesday, April 1

Program Description

The Building Bridges 2020 Grants Program will support planning and implementation of projects that engage U.S.-based Muslims and their neighbors 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 $2.5 million will be awarded for projects that begin between November 2020 and April 2021. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 over one to three years will be awarded. Grantees will also receive strategic communications support during the grant period from a Building Bridges Program-appointed consultant. 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.

Organizational Eligibility

• Applicant organizations must be able to document their tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3) as amended 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 on behalf of the project. In all cases, the application should describe and clarify all partnerships involved in the project.

• Organizations that received a grant in past funding cycles are eligible to apply again in this one. If selected for funding in this cycle, cumulative grants may not exceed $300,000 in the last five years.

• 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 can submit an application. Both the organization selected as the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organizations will need to submit their organizational budgets.

• Organizations must have at least three years of professional experience producing or presenting literary, multimedia and/or performing arts‐based programs or, may partner with an organization that does.

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 Muslims and their neighbors through literary, multi-media- and/or performing arts-based experiences to foster relationships and understanding between communities. Organizations are encouraged to draw upon their core capabilities, knowledge of the selected population(s) 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 with successful U.S.-based or international artistic programming.
• Expansion of existing programs that advance Building Bridges Grants Program goals.

Funded projects must have a start date between November 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021. Projects may take place over a period of one to three years from the start date.

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

 Criteria for Support

The following criteria will be used in the review of grant applications (see Grants Awarded for examples of projects that have received funding):

• Focus: The program supports projects that primarily center on literary, multimedia and performing arts with cultural roots in Muslim regions and diaspora.
• Intended Audiences: The program supports projects that define a specific, clearly identified population and demonstrate understanding of their behaviors and preferences.
• Goals for Achieving Success: The program prioritizes initiatives that can clearly define how they will advance understanding and relationships between Muslims and their neighbors.
• Management Capacity: The program supports organizations with the capacity to manage the projects for which they seek funding, and whose efforts align with the organization's mission and goals.

How to Apply

The application process includes two stages.

1. Submit a letter of interest (LOI) that briefly describes the proposed project or program. The project description 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 goal, and how would it be achieved?
• What is the intended audience(s)/population(s) for the proposed project and how have they been identified?
• How would the project involve the literary, performing arts and/or multimedia-based disciplines? How would artists, organizations or multimedia resources be identified?
• How does your proposed project help to create more understanding about Muslims and advance relationships between American Muslims and their neighbors?

2. Upon invitation, submit a full proposal. Invitations to submit full proposals will be issued during the week of June 1-5, 2020 following panel review of the LOIs.

To gain access to DDCF’s online system to submit LOIs, you must provide your organization’s nine-digit employer identification number (EIN). Only tax ID’s from organizations with 501(c)(3) status are recognized by the online application system. Please verify that you are using the appropriate tax ID number if it is not recognized by the online application system.

START a new application here:

Click this link once. Create a bookmark for the webpage linked immediately above once you have initiated an LOI. Using this link more than once will create multiple LOIs.

RETURN to an existing application:

If you have accessed the online system previously to submit applications or progress reports, use your existing account information to log in. If you do not know your password, you can request to reset it on the main log-in page.


The 2020 timeline is shown below.  Additional information about the application process can be found here.  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.

Letter of Interest Due


Friday, April 17, 2020, 11:59 p.m. ET

Invitations to Submit Full Proposals Issued


During the week of June 1 – 5, 2020

Full proposals Due


Friday, July 10, 2020, 11:59 p.m. ET

Grants Awarded


October 2020

Project Start Dates


November 1, 2020 thru April 1, 2021

Project Periods


1 – 3 years

Applicant Resources

An informational video with details about the LOI application process is at the linked below.

Link to watch informational video.


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.