5. Funding a Program

From the outset of your planning process, the issue of funding has probably been a major concern. Even if you are receiving assistance from your library system you will probably have primary responsibility for identifying the funds to cover artists fees, supplies and other miscellaneous costs.

You may look for funds from a variety of sources as shown below under Possible Funding Sources. Whichever of these you are targeting, it is likely that you will need to prepare some type of funding proposal or complete an application. With your patron survey data compiled, a teaching artist selected, a curriculum developed and a budget in hand, you will be able to begin this process from a position of strength.

To help organize your thought and aid you in your grant writing, use the project planning form. The project planning form was developed using common questions you should be prepared to answer for funders.

Making the Case for Funding

The following selection criteria have been adapted from the Lifetime Arts funding application process.

The overarching criterion for funding through this program is the project’s strength in promoting mastery and social engagement.

Mastery is skill or knowledge of a technique or topic. Older adults gain mastery when they overcome challenges successfully. The project activities must focus on teaching new skills, imparting new knowledge and/or developing latent skills and interest. Each lesson is challenging – yet achievable.

Social engagement refers to active involvement with other people in the pursuit of common goals. Creative aging workshops intentionally include opportunities for socialization, promote sharing the experience collegially and model support and encouragement.

Additional criteria:
In addition to demonstrating mastery and social engagement, proposals will be evaluated to the extent that it meets the following criteria: 

    1. Artistic merit and purpose of the project
    2. Teaching artists’ qualifications including specific experience teaching this population
    3. Effectiveness of curriculum as a plan for building art making skills and promoting learning
    4. Appropriateness of the budget to support the project
    5. The library’s commitment to provide administrative oversight of the project
    6. Thorough recruitment and promotion plans for the workshop series
    7. Participant benefits to be derived from the project-demonstration of social engagement
    8. Well-planned use of library’s collection/resources
    9. A viable plan, including promotion, for a public culminating event, which includes a celebration for the participants and their families and friends
    10. Accessibility for persons with disabilities
    11. The project’s realistic chance of implementation

Possible Funding Sources

Whereas Lifetime Arts is one possible source of funding for creative aging programs, there are other local or state sources that host library systems and programming librarians can explore. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Library Friends groups,
  • local or state arts councils,
  • family foundations,
  • individual donors,
  • foundations concerned with the health and quality of life of older adults,
  • state grants,
  • corporate sponsors,
  • the United Way,
  • local businesses or business associations, and
  • LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) funding via the State Library.

All of these sources are worth exploring, especially if you plan to sustain creative aging programming as a regular service component.

National Funding Resources


  • It is important to recognize that most funding processes are highly competitive. One reason worthy applications can be rejected is the lack of a “fit” between the applicant and the funder. It is important for applicants to make sure that their proposal matches the guidelines and priorities of potential sources, and also to make sure that they have addressed all the selection criteria in their proposal.
  • Do not assume that members of a selection panel know your neighborhood or your library.  The more specific you can be about your service population, program needs and your plans for responsive programming, the better.


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