Mellon Foundation Grant for Community Archives

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation invites community-based archives in the United States and its territories to submit proposals to fund one of the following areas of need:

  • Operational support for the organization, including general support for staff, space, and utilities.
  • Collections care, including storage, cataloging, description, and preservation.
  • Programming and outreach activities, including collecting new materials, and exhibitions, publications, or other uses of the collections.

Since 2013, the Foundation's Scholarly Communications program has been making a series of grants to help diversify the body of primary source evidence available to, for example, activists, artists, researchers in humanities fields, community historians, genealogists, teachers, and students.  These grants were designed to support and strengthen a body of archival practice, called community-based archiving.  Archival studies scholars Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, and Elizabeth Shepherd define community as "any manner of people who come together and present themselves as such," and a community archive as "the product of their attempts to document the history of their commonality."1  They further describe community archives as "collections of material gathered primarily by members of a given community and over whose use community members exercise some level of control."2

The Foundation plans to offer a total of $1 million in support of community-based archives in two annual calls for proposals, one in 2019 and the second in 2020.  The 2019 Call for Proposals (CFP) is now open and directed towards community-based archives that represent and serve communities marginalized due to oppression based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, class, sexuality, religion, ability, and/or geographic location.  For the purposes of this CFP, community-based archives must demonstrate that community members actively participate in their archival processes, making key decisions about what to collect and how. 

Awards would range from $25,000 to $100,000, for grants of up to two years in length. Grant terms would begin on January 1, 2020 and would need to be completed by December 31, 2021. In the first round, up to $500,000 would be awarded.  The Foundation would then convene the awardees in person and online over the course of the grant term to build a cohort of archives that would help and learn from each other.

Proposals will be evaluated by Foundation staff and outside reviewers.  They will be judged on coherence, the evidence of need, and the likely benefits that would accrue for these archives and their communities from the proposed grant. 

The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2019.



Organizations that respond to this CFP must:

  • Be located within the United States or its territories.
  • Have 501(c)(3) public charity status, or have an organization with 501(c)(3) public charity status serving as a fiscal sponsor.
  • Be able to demonstrate autonomy as well as participation from the community being served and represented.
  • Have an annual operating budget of no more than $1 million.
  • Be able to provide a recent Form 990 and documentation about the organization’s annual operating budget for the previous two years.

Organizations can request grant funding for up to 50% of their annual budget per annum, for up to two years, with a total proposed budget of no less than $25,000 and no more than $100,000. The amount of the request should not compromise the organization’s ability to satisfy the public support test. Learn more & Apply