Frequently Asked Questions

Application to the Smart investing@your library® grant program is by invitation only. Please refer to the Grant Application Instructions for details on completing the Application Form.

What is Smart investing@your library®?

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is collaborating with the American Library Association to help build the capacity of public libraries and community college libraries to provide effective, unbiased financial and investor education. This grant program supports public libraries and community college libraries in their efforts to meet financial/investor education needs at the community level by providing high-quality resources and services.

Who is eligible to apply?

This is a competitive grant program. ALA and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation will invite selected public libraries, community college libraries, and library organizations to apply for a grant. An invitation to submit a grant application will be sent to selected organizations, but this does not guarantee that a grant will be awarded. For information about receiving an invitation, please contact Margaret Monsour of the American Library Association (800-545-2433 x4396).

Are only public libraries eligible to apply?

No. In addition to U.S. public libraries, nonprofit networks or consortia serving public libraries, public library systems, and state libraries may apply by invitation only. Community college libraries may also apply by invitation.

Does the applicant need to be a 501(c)(3) organization?

Yes. But if the library itself is not a 501(c)(3) organization, it may apply through a 501(c)(3) subsidiary, such as a foundation or friends of the library organization.

What is the award amount?

Grants range in size from $5,000 to $100,000.

Is the population of the library service area one of the factors that determine the size of the grant award?

Yes. While this is only one factor, libraries should realistically base their application on their staff size and resources that will be required to fulfill the grant requirements.

What is the grant term?

The grant term lasts from 12 to 24 months.

What is required of grant recipients?

Grant recipients will be expected to participate fully in efforts to evaluate the program, attend training for staff, and accommodate site visits as requested. Grantees are also required to submit two reports: a progress report at the midpoint of the grant term and a summary report after completion of the grant.

The grant application asks for the identity of the project team. What does this mean?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to partner with community agencies, civic groups, educational organizations, local governments, and media outlets. Educational institutions such as high schools, community colleges, and universities may contribute to programming. Local newspapers, cable access TV, and radio stations may support your marketing and communications plan. Your partners should be represented on the project team.

Are there any required materials that must be integrated into my project plan?

Yes. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation has created investor education content modules that are required to be used in your proposed project. Available at no cost, these materials are unbiased and free of commercial endorsements. Grantees should plan to use the modules in whole or in part and in electronic or print formats. They may be used in any number of ways to meet the needs of your project. For example, you may use them as workshop handouts, to create brochures, or to add content to your project web pages. Additional products created by other FINRA Investor Education Foundation funded nonprofit organizations are also available free and may be used in your project.

Are there specific goals and outcomes that must be addressed in the project proposal?

Yes. At least one of the project goals should relate to your marketing and outreach plan. Up to four goals may be identified. For each goal, provide up to three measurable outcomes that serve as indicators of the completeness and success of the project. These goals and outcomes should be consistent with the identified needs of the target population.

Do you have any examples of possible library-based investor education projects?

Yes. You may read summaries about participating libraries

Are partner agencies an important aspect of the grant proposal?

Yes. You are strongly encouraged to engage partners, particularly to help you reach marketing and outreach 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.

Is an evaluation plan required?

Yes. Detailed requirements are described on the Project Evaluation Planning page and discussed in the Grant Application Instructions. Grant recipients will be expected to attend one day of training on January 30 during the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago on how to implement the evaluation plan described in the grant application. Training expenses including travel, meals, and accommodations will be paid by ALA.

What about the budget?

A line-item budget should be included with your proposal. 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. See the Application Instructions for complete information about the budget.

How will applications be reviewed and what are the selection criteria?

All applications will be evaluated by an Advisory Panel selected by the Reference and User Services Association President and composed of librarians plus staff of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Selection criteria include:

  • Creative and innovative programs
  • A strong marketing and communications plan for the project
  • A strong evaluation plan
  • Identification and service to underserved populations
  • Realistically designed sustainability plan
  • Evidence of community partnerships
  • Leverage existing technology
  • Use of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation content modules and other materials produced by grantees

How will grant funds be distributed?

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.

If I have questions, whom may I contact?

Please contact Margaret Monsour of the American Library Association (1-800-545-2433 ext. 4396).