Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Program

National Endowment for the Arts| Sept 15, 2021 

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants to Provide Arts Programming for Military-Connected Individuals Nationwide

Guidelines for new grant program now available 

Washington DC—The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, is pleased to announce the launch of a new grant program as part of Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. The Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants will support arts engagement programming for military and veteran populations and family members, providing opportunities for creative expression and strengthening resilience.

Creative Forces is an NEA initiative in partnership with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs which seeks to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. The deadline to apply for these new grants is December 15, 2021.

“This national grant program furthers the work of the NEA Creative Forces initiative in recognizing the important role that the arts can play in supporting our nation’s military and Veteran communities,” said Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. “I was recently able to see first-hand the benefit of creative arts therapies in a Veterans’ hospital and I look forward to seeing how artists and community arts organizations will utilize creative arts programming to contribute to the health and well-being of their local military and Veterans, as well as their families and caregivers.”

The Creative Forces Community Engagement grant programs will serve a broad military-connected population, including active-duty service members, guardsmen, reservists, veterans, military and veteran families, as well as caregivers and healthcare workers providing care for military service members and veterans. The aim of these grants is to expand programming into the community and address the distinct experiences, challenges, and strengths of military and veteran families, care providers, and veteran populations.

“Our military service members and their families have sacrificed to protect and defend the freedom of our nation,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “The projects supported by this grant program will recognize that arts engagement can provide a powerful outlet for fostering community and personal connections. We are pleased to be working with Mid-America Arts Alliance to develop and manage this new program.”

Creative Forces Community Engagement projects will require at least one partner; and be led by or include at least one organization with a history of creative or artistic programming. Partnerships among arts organizations and veteran and military service organizations are highly encouraged. Funding will support projects beginning on or after July 1, 2022. Awards of $10,000 – $50,000 will be available in two tiers:

The emerging grant tier:

  • Provides support for eligible organizations to develop and implement new or emerging nonclinical arts engagement programs for military-connected populations or for small organizations
  • Matching grant amount: up to $10,000 for one-year projects

The advanced grant tier:

  • Provides support for eligible organizations with established military-related non-clinical arts programming
  • Matching grant amounts: $10,000 – $25,000 for one-year projects or up to $50,000 for two-year projects

“Through projects Mid-America Arts Alliance has funded and experienced in our region, we have seen the tremendous ability for the arts to make social connections and foster resiliency with members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families, among others,” said Todd Stein, President and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. “The Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants seek to promote creativity, health, and healing with military-connected populations across the country.”

Mid-America Arts Alliance will host a webinar for potential applicants on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. In addition, research and resources are available in the online Creative Forces National Resource Center to support the practice of arts engagement with the military community. Resources for community arts providers include key findings on impacts and lessons learned from community arts engagement pilot projects funded by Creative Forces between 2018-2020, as well as information on serving military connected populations.

For the complete guidelines and to apply for a Creative Forces Community Engagement grant, visit