While the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2019 calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, as NEA Chairman Jane Chu said in a recent statement, “We understand that the President’s budget request is a first step in a very long budget process. We stand ready to assist in that process as we continue to operate as usual.”

Toward this, we wanted to remind poets that the NEA is currently accepting applications for its fellowships in poetry. These fellowships are $25,000 grants given “to published creative writers that enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement.”

In addition to being a leading advocate for the important support the NEA provides to poets through its fellowship program, the Academy of American Poets is an NEA grantee ourselves. That's why we're happy to share some tips on how to apply. 

Important note: These instructions are not meant to be a substitute for the NEA’s instructions. It’s essential that you review all information on the NEA’s website related to applying for a fellowship.

First, check out the main page about the Creative Writing Fellowships in Poetry: https://www.arts.gov/grants-individuals/creative-writing-fellowships

Second, confirm that you are eligible to apply:


Third, note that the application deadline for the fiscal year 2019 poetry fellowship is March 7, 2018, although the NEA encourages you to submit by February 26, 2018. It is highly recommended that you not wait until the last minute to submit your application.

Of note, according to the NEA’s website, “Competition for fellowships is extremely rigorous. We typically receive more than 1,000 applications each year in this category and award fellowships to fewer than 5% of applicants. You should consider carefully whether your work will be competitive at the national level.”

Fourth, understand that there are four main steps to applying. Review them in detail here: https://www.arts.gov/grants-individuals/creative-writing-fellowships/how-to-prepare-and-submit-an-application

Step 1: Register with Grants.gov
Step 2: Download the application package
Step 3: Follow the application instructions
Step 4: Submit your application through Grants.gov

Regarding Step 1: Your application must be submitted through Grants.gov, the website that all people and businesses utilize to apply for federal funding. Before you can submit an application through Grants.gov, you must register on the site.

To help you register on Grants.gov and apply for a grant, we’ve prepared the following instructions:

  1. Go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/register.html and click the red button that reads, “Get Registered Now.”
  2. Complete the contact information on the page and then click “continue.” A temporary code will be sent to the email address you entered. (https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/register.faces)
  3. Check your email, copy the code, and paste it where instructed on the registration page. If you have done so correctly, you will be returned a page that reads, “Congratulations! Your Grants.gov Account was successfully created.” On this page select the button that reads: “Add Individual Applicant Profile- Allows you to apply for Opportunities on your own behalf.” You will then be asked to provide a Profile Name and Job Title. For this, you can enter your name and something like “poetry application.” Then, click “Save.”
  4. You should now be at a page that reads “Applicant Center.” In the left-hand column under “Welcome” and your name, select “Apply for Grants” in the menu.
  1. On this page: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/apply-for-grants.html you will see multiple icons/options: Learn, Check, Search, Register, Apply, Track. Select Search.
  2. In the left-hand column under SEARCH GRANTS / Basic Search Criteria, enter 2018NEA03LFCW where it says “Opportunity Number.”
  3. Only one matching result will be returned, “NEA Literature Fellowships: Creative Writing, FY2019.” Click on the blue opportunity number link with the result.
  4. You should now be on a page that reads, “View Grant Opportunity” with four tabs: Synopsis, Version, History, Related Documents, Package.
  5. Select the tab that says, “PACKAGE.”
  6. You will then be able to open the application “PACKAGE.” Note that before you try this, you have to have the right version of Adobe Reader installed. Read more about that here: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/adobe-software-compatibility.html. In the chart on this page you will see the headers: CFDA, Competition ID, Competition Title, Opportunity Package ID, Opening Date, Closing Date, Workspace Compatible, Actions. Under “Actions,” click on “Apply.”
  7. Here you’ll see “Apply Now Using Workspace.” Hit the red button that reads “Create Workspace.” Enter the name you used when you registered where it says “Applicant Filing Name.”
  8. You will now be on a page that reads “Manage Workspace.” In the table on this page you will see two items: “Application for Federal Domestic Assistance- Individual [V1.1]        “(also known as the “SF 424 - Individual” form) and “Attachments [V1.2].” Select the “Application for Federal Domestic Assistance - Individual” first. The form will open in a pop-up window. Do not complete the form here. Instead, download it and save it on your hard drive. You can also complete a webform version of this form, which might be easier. For additional information on completing this form review the steps here: https://www.arts.gov/grants-individuals/creative-writing-fellowships/how-to-prepare-and-submit-an-application#app1
  9. Now you’re ready to upload your attachments. On the “Manage Workspace” page, click the link that reads, “Attachments [V1.2].” You can download this form or use the webform. This is where you will submit your manuscript, cover page, and summary of publications. Follow the instructions on this page correctly:https://www.arts.gov/grants-individuals/creative-writing-fellowships/how-to-prepare-and-submit-an-application#app1

If you need help with technical issues related to Grants.gov, call the Contact Center at 1 (800) 518-4726 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or send an email to [email protected].

For specific help on how to complete your application, applicants should review the instructions in the NEA’s guidelines.  For help on all other issues, applicants should email [email protected].

Good luck!