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NBF: The Literary Arts Emergency Fund

National Book Foundation

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Deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $50,000

Fields of work: Writing & Literature

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: General Operating Expense, Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico Show all

Location of residency: United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico Show all

About this funder:



The Literary Arts Emergency Fund

Three national nonprofit literary arts organizations—the Academy of American Poets (AAP), Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), and National Book Foundation (NBF)—have come together in a historic collaboration to establish the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which will provide $3.5 million to the literary arts, a field that has been disastrously impacted by COVID-19. Regrants from this fund, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be distributed by September 15, 2020.

According to the Americans for the Arts’ survey on the economic impact of COVID-19, 253 literary organizations reported over $7.2 million total losses to date.

“Writers create humanity’s vast and intricate human record—they are the chroniclers of our joys and fears, our varied inner lives, our humor, anguish, and determination. This one-time emergency grant provides critical support both for these vital storytellers and for the organizations that ensure their written work remains accessible to enrich and deepen our collective engagement with a diverse, inclusive American culture,” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of the Mellon Foundation.

“Literary arts organizations and publishers are critical to sustaining a vibrant literary culture. At the same time, the literary arts field is one of the most underfunded in culture and therefore especially vulnerable. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation and hope that other foundations and philanthropists will follow in their footsteps and support our work,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.

The vast majority of our nation’s 235,000 working writers (the number of writers in the labor force according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ April 2019 report “Artists & Other Cultural Workers”) make their living and share their work outside of commercial publishing and for-profit venues.

Nonprofit literary organizations and publishers, of which there are approximately 300 nationwide, assist poets and writers by presenting them at thousands of events and by publishing and distributing thousands of poems, stories, and essays in books, magazines, and through open online archives. They also employ writers as teaching artists who bring literature into classrooms; offer workshops, festivals, and conferences; support the creative practice of poets and writers by providing millions of dollars in grants and fellowships; and honor the achievements of poets and writers, giving their work visibility. Together, these organizations reach more than 75 million readers each year.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Literary arts organizations and publishers AND Incorporated nonprofits with 501(c)3 status OR a fiscal agent.
  • Only applications from literary arts organizations and publishers based in U.S. states, territories, or Tribal lands will be considered.


  • Because recent financial losses experienced by literary nonprofit organizations and publishers have been substantial and emergency relief is limited, libraries, museums, book arts organizations, humanities councils, centers for the book, residencies, playwriting organizations, author’s homes, and organizations devoted to championing the legacy of an individual writer are ineligible.


This page was last reviewed August 09, 2020 and last updated August 03, 2020