Application Instructions

Application to the Smart investing @ your library® grant program is by invitation only. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out the Application Form.

To complete and submit the grant application:

  • Save the Application Form using a filename that contains the name of your library or organization.
  • Complete all parts of the application.
  • Save a final copy of your application.
  • Submit the completed application as a Word document and send as an email attachment to Margaret Monsour using the subject line: “Application from [insert organization name]”

You will receive a notification within 72 hours acknowledging receipt of your application. If you do not receive notification, contact Margaret Monsour at ALA.

Application deadline: Thursday, June 5, 2014, at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Applicants are welcome and encouraged to submit a draft in advance of the deadline. This will allow ALA and the FINRA Foundation to provide suggestions for strengthening your proposal prior to final submission.

Directions for Completing the Application Form

Part One: Cover Page

  • Project Principal

Provide the contact information for the person who will lead the project, including name, title or position, organization name, address, daytime telephone number, and e-mail address. Only one name may be provided. All communications regarding the project will be directed to this individual.

  • 501(c)(3) Organization

Provide the name, address, telephone number, 9-digit federal identification number, and Web address (if applicable) of the 501(c)(3) organization applying for funding or sponsoring the funding request.

  • Project Title
    Provide a descriptive name for the project in ten or fewer words.
  • Amount Requested
    Specify the dollar amount of grant funding requested. Grants will range in size from $5,000 to $100,000. Applicants should consider the scope of the proposed project, the size of the library, and the population served when determining the amount of grant funding requested.
  • Project Duration
    Indicate the duration of the project in number of months. Projects should be completed in 12 to 24 months.
  • Project Summary
    Briefly summarize the project using only the space that remains on the cover page.

Part Two: Qualifications of Organization,
Project Principal, and Project Team

By submitting this application, the applicant represents that the proposed Project Principal has not been convicted or found in violation of any state or federal securities laws, has not been enjoined or sanctioned by any regulatory authority for those types of violations, and is not named as a defendant in any pending federal action alleging securities laws violations. This representation is required of the applicant because the FINRA Foundation receives a portion of its grant-making funds from a settlement fund governed by a federal court order that imposes certain limits on who may receive these funds.

Limit to one page or less.

Qualifications of the applicant organization

Briefly describe the 501(c)(3) organization. Explain why the organization is well qualified to receive funding for the proposed project. Describe the library infrastructure and resources available to support the successful completion of the proposed project, including branch facilities, technology, and existing collections.

Qualifications of the project principal

Identify the project principal and explain why this person is qualified to lead the project.

Qualifications of the project team

Identify the key individuals who will serve on the project team and summarize their qualifications. For team members who are not affiliated with the applicant organization, such as subcontractors or consultants, please summarize their affiliations.

Part Three: Detailed Project Description

Limit to five pages or less.

In shaping your project, be creative, think carefully about how best to reach out to and engage the target audience, maximize the use of available technology, and take advantage of partnerships with other organizations and agencies in your community. The application review process will favor innovative and sustainable approaches to financial education. See the FAQs and descriptions of the approved Smart investing@your library ® projects for ideas.

Project Description and Rationale

This is your opportunity to describe the proposed project in detail. Explain the strategies and activities comprising the project. Describe how the project meets the financial education, investor education, and/or investor protection needs of library patrons.

  • Explain why you have adopted this approach.
  • Describe how you will use the FINRA Foundation’s investor education content modules in your project. Grantees are required to use or adapt the investor education content modules available free of charge from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The modules are posted at:
  • Describe how you plan to use the financial/investor education materials, tools, and research developed by other FINRA Foundation grantees in your project. In recent years, the FINRA Foundation has made grants to nonprofit organizations to develop unbiased, high-quality financial/investor education resources. In crafting a proposal, applicants are encouraged to make use of these resources, which are available free of charge for nonprofit purposes. These materials, tools, and research studies are posted at
  • Describe how you plan to use available technology to help ensure convenient, timely, high-quality access to financial/investor education resources for library patrons. Grant funds may not be used to purchase computer hardware, but may be used to make modest software purchases directly related to project implementation. Applicants, however, are strongly encouraged to maximize the use of their existing technology infrastructure.
  • Describe how the project will be sustained following the conclusion of the grant term.

Needs Assessment

  • Describe the data you have collected, and/or plan to collect, to determine the financial/investor education needs of the library patrons to be served through this project.
  • Describe how available data support the financial/investor education strategies incorporated into the proposed project.

Target Audience

Describe in detail the target population whose financial/investor literacy will be addressed by the project. Include the number to be served and relevant demographic information.

Goals and Outcomes

State up to four goals that indicate how the target audience will benefit from the project. At least one of the project goals should relate to your marketing and outreach plan (see below). For each goal, provide up to three measurable outcomes that serve as indicators of the completeness and success of the project. Please consider your goals and outcomes carefully and review the guidance at Resources for Applicants. They should be:

  • Consistent with the identified needs of the target population
  • Aligned with the strategies and activities incorporated into your workplan
  • Included in your evaluation plan (see below)

Part Four: Marketing and Outreach Plan

Limit to two pages or less.

The quality of the project marketing and outreach plan will be a major factor in funding decisions. Please describe in detail how you will engage the target audience. Your plan should be proactive: Rather than waiting for patrons to visit the library to access resources, the project would be well served by also establishing a presence at key community locations, events, and virtual spaces outside of the library. Be certain to budget adequate funds for the marketing and outreach plan and to rely on the resources available through partnering organizations and agencies. In crafting your marketing and outreach plan, carefully consider:

Communication Strategies

Describe the communications and outreach strategies and vehicles you will use to keep the target audience informed and engaged. Why do you believe these will be effective? Describe any data that support your approach.


How will you use technology to maximize the effectiveness of marketing and outreach efforts?

Part Five: Evaluation Plan

Limit to two pages or less.

Describe your evaluation plan and the types of data you will use to evaluate the project. The plan should be both formative, to ensure continuous improvement in the quality of implementation during the project, and summative, to measure progress toward achieving your stated goals. The evaluation plan should encompass all aspects of your project, including your marketing and outreach efforts. Describe the types of data you will use to evaluate the project, and indicate who will collect these data and how they will be analyzed. Remember, the Goals and Objectives you have identified (see above) must be part of your evaluation plan. Think carefully about the changes you want to accomplish with this project and what you need to do to achieve them. For a brief primer on measuring the effectiveness of your project, please see the evaluation section. Consider using a third-party evaluation consultant. Review our guidance on working with an evaluation consultant.

Part Six: Project Partners

Limit to one page or less.

Describe your partners and the roles each will play in the project. Applicants are strongly encouraged to engage partners to help achieve marketing, outreach, and other programmatic goals. Partners may include nonprofit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, and other libraries. Partners may not include securities firms or securities trade associations. Prior to submitting an application, be sure to inform partnering organizations of the project details and obtain their commitment to participate.

Part Seven: Timeline

Limit to two pages or less.

Provide a timeline that includes a start date no earlier than February 2014, the dates of major activities and milestones, and an end date for the grant project. Please give careful consideration to your timeline, and make certain it is feasible.

Part Eight: Budget and Budget Narrative

Limit to two pages or less.

Provide a line-item budget for the project, including explanations of how the line items were calculated. If more than one funding source is involved with the project, identify the other funding sources, the amounts they will fund, and the line items included in their funding.

Grant funds may be used for educational programs, professional development for library staff, local outreach activities, materials and supplies relevant to financial education, and other direct financial education services to the community. Consultants, such as a communications expert to help with marketing efforts or a consultant to help with program evaluation, may be hired. Include funding for the evaluation component of your project. Personnel costs should be clearly indicated by line item. Indirect costs or overhead must not exceed 10% of the other grant expenditures.

Budget Narrative

  • Summarize the use of funds, as noted in the line item budget, briefly indicating the primary expense categories.
  • Explain any personnel costs included in the budget.
  • If the amount requested through this grant opportunity is different from the total project budget, explain the difference and specify other funding sources. Indicate which line items are to be funded through other sources.
  • If any part of the project work will be subcontracted, summarize the use of funds for the subcontracted work.


When preparing your project budget, please note that grant funds may not be used for:

  • Computer hardware
  • Construction, equipment, or office furniture
  • International programs
  • Expenses that are not directly related to the project for which funding is sought
  • Salaries that are already part of the normal operating budget of the library
  • Pass-through funding
  • Projects with a potential conflict of interest
  • Projects with proprietary elements, such as for-profit activities
  • Lobbying, political contributions, fund-raising events, or other similar activities designed to influence legislation or intervene in political campaigns
  • Donations, endowments, challenge grants, matching funds, and the like
  • Direct payments to members of the public

Other restrictions may apply.

Distribution of Grant Funds

Award of grant funding is contingent upon execution of a grant agreement within a reasonable timeframe. In most cases, grants will be disbursed in two equal installments: one-half upon execution of the grant agreement, and one-half near the midpoint of the grant term, provided the grantee makes adequate progress toward achieving the goals of the grant, as determined by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation may alter this formula according to the needs of the particular grant-supported project.

Questions about Your Application?

Invited applicants are strongly encouraged to contact either the FINRA Investor Education Foundation or the American Library Association to discuss project ideas prior to submission.

Please direct inquiries to:

Margaret Monsour
American Library Association
1-800-545-2433 x4396


Robert Ganem
FINRA Investor Education Foundation