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ARPA Youth Grants for Excellence - 2022

The Nebraska Library Commission has made funding available specifically for innovative projects for children and young adults in legally established public libraries, tribal libraries, and institutional libraries in Nebraska, through a competitive grant process.

This year's funding is provided from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), as administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). ARPA is the result of the federal stimulus bill passed by Congress. Nebraska has received a one-time award of $2,422,166. A portion of that amount will be available via these competitive grants.

Some of the usual rules and requirements for Youth Grants for Excellence will be suspended for this year only:

  • No local match is required.
  • All legally established public libraries are eligible, both accredited and unaccredited, as well as tribal libraries and State run institutions.
  • Libraries will be able to use the grant funds for improving their children's or teen collection (buy any books you feel you need), and to purchase AWE workstations or an equivalent item, Playaway Launchpad, computers, and furniture for the children's or teen areas. 

To learn more, view the recording of the NCompass Live webinar, NLC Grants for 2022.


The program is designed to encourage creative thinking, risk-taking and new approaches to address problems and needs of children and young adults in your community. Grant awards enable youth librarians to begin needed programs and try projects which they have been unable to undertake. The grants also offer an opportunity to expand youth service capabilities in new and different directions. It is also expected that the funding will provide a foundation for ongoing rather than one-time services, which can be continued with community support or through a reallocation of library funds.

For 2022, due to the grant being funded via ARPA, there are also additional goals to consider. NLC has received broad guidance from IMLS, as different communities have different needs. The stated goals from IMLS for the use of ARPA funds are as follows:
  • To enable libraries to reach residents with internet hotspots, accessible Wi-Fi, digital content and related resources, and other digital inclusion efforts, particularly in support of education, health, and workforce development needs;
  • To provide rapid emergency relief to libraries across the country, allowing them to safely respond to the pandemic and implement public health protocols; and
  • To support library services that meet the needs of communities throughout the U.S., including costs such as personnel, technology, training, materials, supplies, and equipment.
With respect to the goals above, reach tribal and museum partners (eligible libraries are encouraged to partner with museums) best positioned to assist with pandemic response efforts, in addition to traditionally eligible library entities, where appropriate.


Any children's librarian, young adult librarian, or adult librarian in charge of children's or young adult services in:

  • Legally established public libraries
  • Tribal libraries
  • Identified institutional libraries (see list)
In order to be eligible for fund distribution, public libraries must be legally established and meet statutory requirements. Generally, see Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-201, Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-202, and Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-203.

Schools, service agencies, and/or organizations may be involved through collaborative planning and programming, thus receiving benefit from this project.


Online applications were accepted through 11:59 PM (CT) on October 7, 2021.

We expect to notify grant recipients on or shortly after November 19, 2021.

The print support materials (e.g., catalog page or computer printout displaying item intended for purchase, list of books and/or materials for purchase, estimates from suppliers, letters from project partners, etc.) may be submitted during the week following the due date.

Any purchase made after March 15, 2021 is eligible for reimbursement.

The final completion report must be submitted no later than September 14, 2022.


What is required in a Youth Grants for Excellence application?

  • A brief statement of the need for the project: Why did you decide to do this project?
  • Details about what you plan to do and how.
  • Each grant project must have at least one program (an event designed for the project, attended by youth, and usually held in the library) for the youth of your community to attend. It can be a special program or simply an Open House to give community members a chance to see or try out the new items that you have purchased.
  • Information about how you will determine the success of the project.

What kind of projects will be eligible for the Youth Grants for Excellence?

You may apply for a grant in an area that will benefit children and/or teens and which you see as a need in your community, for example (but not limited to), projects for youth (preschool, elementary school age, or teen) that will:

  • Encourage reading
  • Early Childhood Reading Programs
  • Concentrate on boys and reading
  • Celebrate reading and books
  • Encourage creativity
  • Develop character
  • Encourage and celebrate other materials or opportunities for youth at your library
  • Encourage library use by children and/or teens for whom English is a learned language
  • Assist library personnel in their ability to meet the service needs of children and/or teens in their community.

Exemplary Sample Applications from past Youth Grants for Excellence

Tips for writing a successful grant application


Should you have a question about eligible and ineligible costs, please contact Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services. The following is a list of ineligible costs:
  • Food and beverages for workshops, meetings, or open houses;
  • Sales tax;
  • Construction/remodel costs;
  • Buying computer hardware by public or school libraries unless the library is CIPA compliant, which requires filtering;
  • "Entertainment" for a program that is not educational in nature;
  • Give-away or promotional items - key chains, refrigerator magnets, T-shirts, mugs, pens, etc.;
  • No built-in furniture (shelving, for example) may be purchased with ARPA funds. All equipment purchased must be movable/non-fixed;
  • Expenses incurred prior to the start date (March 15, 2021) or after the end date (September 14, 2022) of this project;
  • Advocacy, lobbying and "influencing" related to a yes/no vote;
  • Social activities, alcoholic beverages and entertainment costs (e.g., tickets and travel to shows or sporting events); and
  • Public relations or advertising of general library services - although you may and are encouraged to do public relations for specific services or programs you are providing using ARPA funds. Examples: Not allowed: "Come to the library, it's a great place to learn." Allowed: "Come to the library's information literacy program and learn how to search the databases provided with ARPA funds."
Generally, construction and installation costs are not allowable expenses. Projects that involve outside contractors or construction trades are not allowable expenses. IMLS does allow what they call "construction-lite." If installation can be done by library staff with minimal tools (e.g. drill and screwdriver), then that would be an allowable cost/project. But, if the project involves hiring someone from the construction trades (e.g. electrician) to come in to do installation (e.g. running either electrical wiring or Ethernet cables), then that would be an unallowable cost/project. Please check with NLC for questions about project proposals that involve construction and/or installation.

For more information, see 2 CFR 225 = Cost Principles and IMLS Tip Sheet on Allowable Costs


  • No local match is required.
  • Libraries should still be supported through consistent local government funding. These payments are not intended to replace local funds for the library, but are granted to provide for enhanced services over and above those provided through local funding. Libraries should be aware that continued local support is an essential component of state aid eligibility, as well as maintenance of effort requirements for state aid.
  • Grant recipients must meet all requirements outlined in the grant award documents. This includes crediting the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Nebraska Library Commission when undertaking and promoting grant-supported activities by including the following statement in all published materials:

    This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.

  • CIPA COMPLIANCE: Projects which provide access to the Internet require compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA); this means Internet access must be filtered as required by the federal LSTA funding. For grant proposals involving access to the Internet or Internet-related projects, libraries must provide an Internet Safety Certification (part of the Library Improvement Grant application).
    For CIPA FAQ's, see ALA's An Update on Filtering (Although this guide is for CIPA scenarios for IMLS Cares Act Funding, the principles are applicable to ARPA funding scenarios). For specific questions, contact Christa Porter, State E-Rate Coordinator for Public Libraries.
  • In order to be eligible for ARPA funding, libraries must provide NLC with a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number. Currently, this is a DUNS number provided by registration through Dun & Bradstreet. In some cases, your library or city may already have a DUNS number. The link provided above allows you to register for a number or look up an already existing number.
  • Grant recipients must follow the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 with regard to technology. Please review IMLS Advisory: E-books Reader Lending Programs, and note that IMLS encourages libraries to keep these laws in mind when acquiring new public access technologies.
  • Compliance with the provisions of the NLC LSTA sub-grant manual is required, including compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws, and access for persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency.


Youth Grant for Excellence 2022 Application - closed October 7, 2021.

Youth Grant for Excellence 2022 Completion Report. Due Date: September 14, 2022.

2021 Youth Grant Recipients: Youth Grants Final-Project Report Form (Word version) (PDF version) Due September 23, 2021.


For questions, contact Sally Snyder, Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services.

Grant Recipients Database - includes Children's Grants for Excellence 1998-2003 and Youth Grants for Excellence 2004- .