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Venture Fund Award Proposals Due from ARL Members by February 26

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image CC0 by Greg Rakozy

In 2019, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) established the Venture Fund to support the work of ARL member organizations that are advancing key priorities of the Association. The Venture Fund (login required) supports prototypes or proofs of concept that scale, so as to advance the Association priorities set by the members and the Board of Directors. Therefore, proposals that demonstrate collaboration between member institutions will be given preference.

Proposals for Venture Fund investments may come from a member representative, a group of member representatives, staff persons at member libraries with the explicit approval of their library dean or director, or an Association committee. Cross-institutional proposals will be given preference. The proposed venture must exist in some form already and have an identified community of users with the potential to scale. Essentially, a proposed venture should be a prototype. The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, February 26, 2021.

Project Types and Funding Levels

There are two levels of funding for research and development projects:

  • Research and development one-time grants capped at $15,000 for a significant enhancement or expansion of a prototype
    Example: Extending a local innovation to multiple ARL libraries or research and learning organizations
  • Research and development pilots lasting 1–3 years, capped at $10,000 per year, dependent on an annual review by the ARL Program Strategy Committee and a decision by the Board to continue to fund
    Example: Extending a collaborative initiative to a larger community, such as TOME

There is one level of funding for small-scale proofs of concept or prototypes:

  • Mini-grants capped at $1,500 for small-scale proofs of concept or prototypes (post-idea formulation)
    Example: Local prototype pilots

Proposal Selection Criteria

Proposals should meet the following criteria:

  • Advances achievement of the ARL Action Plan 2021–2022
  • Anticipated outcomes have clear and compelling value to research libraries, the research and learning community, and society at large; in other words, they have value at a scale greater than a specific library, campus, or organization
  • Project and its anticipated outcomes demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and cultural competence
  • Clarity and conciseness of application
  • Realistic budget request
  • Achievable timeline to accomplish the goals outlined in the request with the available funding
  • Team has the relevant background, experience, and training
  • Effective methodology that demonstrates a willingness to be creative, take risks, and share all learning (including unexpected outcomes) with the ARL community
  • Demonstrates the potential for longer-term sustainability
  • Evaluation and/or assessment component

Application Process

Please complete the proposal form and upload the following documents in one PDF packet no later than Friday, February 26, 2021:

  1. A cover letter summarizing the proposed project (1 page maximum)
  2. A detailed proposal of the following information (4 pages maximum):
    • How the project advances the ARL 2021–2022 Action Plan
    • How the outcomes of the project will benefit the research library and the research and learning community
    • How you plan to engage others in broader adoption
    • Project design and methodology
    • Budget, including any funds being sought or already secured through other funding sources
    • Plan for sustainability
    • Team expertise/qualifications
    • Milestones and timetable for completion
    • Evaluation and/or assessment component
  3. For research & development grants only: Explanation of the funds use, and expected project outcomes based on previous research, development, and/or prototyping of the proposed project

Proposals that do not adhere to the criteria, submission requirements, and page numbers listed above, will not be considered for funding.

Please note that projects that are duplicative of the library/libraries’ day-to-day work or other existing projects in the research libraries and higher education space will not be funded. One-time meetings, speaker fees, conference posters or presentations, travel, registration fees, food and beverage, office supplies, hardware, software, or other infrastructure requests, are also ineligible for funding.

For More Information

If you have questions about the Venture Fund application process for 2021, please send them to Jessica Andrade (jandrade@arl.org).


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise; advances diversity, equity, and inclusion; and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.