ARPA Funding for Illinois Libraries

updated 10/25/2021

Libraries are eligible to receive an allocated portion of recovery funding as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 passed by Congress on Wednesday, March 10th, 2021. ALA and ILA are tracking the opportunities available through several government agencies for which libraries are eligible. 

ILA seeks to drill down to the state level and provide an index to opportunities for Illinois libraries. Please note: the definitive sources of information about funding opportunities from the following agencies are the agencies themselves, so please check the web pages and newsletter resources in the index below for the most current and detailed information. Each agency varies in its eligibility, criteria, deadlines, and dollar amount available.

General Federal Funding Requirements

  • To our best understanding, libraries ARE eligible to apply for all the funding sources ILA is monitoring--a library should NOT need to be a 501(c)3 organization and should NOT need a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor. If there are questions about eligibility for a particular opportunity, it is best to contact the granting agency itself, although of course, ILA is here to answer questions as we are able.
  • To receive federal funding, whether applying directly to a federal agency or for federal funds via a state agency, organizations need a DUNS number. Register for one on at
  • Organizations should also be registered on the federal System for Awards Management (SAM):

IMLS/Illinois State Library

  • National amount: $200 million; $178 million distributed to states
  • Illinois amount: $4,742,647
  • How to access: There are three grant programs available; applications were due August 15, 2021.
    1.      Bouncing Back from the Pandemic: Developing Resources for the Local WorkforcePublic library and academic library agencies may apply for $5,000 to $50,000 to expand the library’s employment-related resources and services.
    2.      Expanding Digital Inclusion: Transforming Library Services grant offering focuses on devices and technologies that circulate to meet the needs of an identified target audience in response to and recovery from the pandemic. This offering is NOT for books or electronic resources. Requests ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 per library building or branch location will be considered, with one application accepted per agency.
    3.     On the Road to Recovery: Transforming Library Spaces grant offering provides funds for emergency relief and support to academic, public, school and special libraries as library spaces are modified in response to and recovery from the pandemic. Requests ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 per library building or branch location will be considered, with one application accepted per agency.
  • More information: Awards will be paid based on reimbursement. If you have questions, contact the Illinois State Library, Library Development Group at or by phone 217-524-8836 or 800-665-5576 ext. 2. 


NEH/Illinois Humanities

  • National amount: $135 million
  • Illinois amount: $1 million + to Illinois humanities and cultural nonprofit organizations.
  • How to access: Via Illinois Humanities’ 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Relief & Recovery Grants program; application deadline 7/15/2021, 5 p.m. Applicants should have been notified of funding decisions by 9/1/2021. Libraries are encouraged to apply; organizations with budgets up to $2 million are eligible. Two opportunities: General operating ($5,000-$10,000), and project-based ($5,000). Public libraries are eligible for both; schools and institutions of higher learning are eligible for the project ones, so school and academic libraries that are interested should work with their parent institution.
  • More info: Illinois Humanities hosted a COVID-19 Emergency Relief & Recovery Grants information session on Wednesday, 6/9/2021 at 1:00 p.m. Here is the recording. Here are the slides. Questions? Email  

NEA/Illinois Arts Council Agency

  • National amount: $135 million; $52 million to state agencies
  • Illinois amount: $933,100
  • How to access: TBA
  • More information: Sign up for NEA newsletter (ILA has!) at


  • National amount: $135 million; $80 million in competitive grants ranging from $50,000-$150,000
  • Illinois amount: This opportunity is not parceled out by state; "arts organizations" apply direct to NEA
  • How to access: The deadline is August 12, 2021. Here is the step-by-step process from NEA. 
  • More information: Read the NEA's news release outlining the program, eligible types of organizations (libraries aren't explicitly mentioned but ARE eligible as units of government), eligible uses of funds, grant amounts, and more. 


States & Local Governments/IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

  • National amount: $350 billion
  • Illinois amount: $8 billion+. Of this: $2.46 billion will be allocated to Illinois counties, which can apply directly to Treasury; $2.73 billion will be allocated to Illinois cities, which can apply directly to Treasury; $742 million will be allocated to "non-entitlement" units of government (typically local governments with populations <50,000), which will need to apply via the state.
  • UPDATED 7/28/2021 How to access: As of July 22, 2021, cities, towns, and villages may apply for the $742 million for non-entitlement units of local government via DCEO. Special districts are “eligible for fund transfers.” According to the FAQ on the U.S. Treasury website, "Special-purpose units of local government will not receive funding allocations; however, a state, territory, local, or Tribal government may transfer funds to a special-purpose unit of government. Special-purpose districts perform specific functions in the community, such as fire, water, sewer or mosquito abatement districts." Municipal and district libraries cannot apply directly, but should reach out to their municipalities to collaborate on funding applications. 
  • More info: National Special Districts Coalition website at (see informational webinar presentation from 5/20/2021 in the "Background" folder on the "Advocacy Resources" page); DCEO regional contacts map


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