FAQ: Shared Vision/Bringing the Library to You Grants

Background about these new grant opportunities

The 2019-20 California governor's budget (AB 74, Chapter 23, Statutes of 2019) included $8 million to the California State Library for grants to public libraries. $5 million was designated for grants for early learning and out of school time programs; and $3 million was earmarked for mobile library grants.

The $5 million program is formally titled Shared Vision Community Partnership Grants for Early Learning and Out-of-School Time Programs. Of the $5 million dedicated to this program, roughly $3 million will be dedicated to early learning grants, and $2 million to out-of-school time grants.

Early Learning grants

Early Learning grants will aim to connect children, youth, families and caregivers with the services they need to thrive, by building or enhancing early learning hubs and wraparound services. By further integrating the work of libraries and other community service providers, these grants will help ensure that Californians will be connected to the resources they need where and when they need them.

Funded projects will center on the concept of libraries developing, enhancing, or joining an early learning community "hub" to provide "wraparound" services for early learners and their families. These services, in addition to providing library programs, will connect families to social, health and other service providers that support children's overall readiness to learn. A few examples might include family literacy specialists, public health nurses, social workers or family engagement specialists. These hub services may be located in the library or conducted through outreach.

A number of public libraries in California have adopted and built services around this concept, and we're taking cues from them. The First 5 El Dorado Community Hubs program is one example. The El Dorado program consists of 5 community hubs developed through a partnership between the county library, First 5, and a host of other county education and health and human services agencies. Another example is the Ontario City Library's new initiative, Little Learners, Big Futures, which will bring library staff to high-traffic neighborhood areas to provide services and resources to families with young children in the form of pop-up programs that will expand access to early childhood learning opportunities. The Pasadena Public Library is currently working to establish seven early childhood hub sites. This project, Growing Together PASadena, is a collaboration of well established community organizations serving families with young children.

We want to emphasize that we are broadly defining the term "hub" to include less comprehensive models that use the library (including mobile or pop-up points of service) as a place to facilitate the delivery of social and health services to at-risk families and early learners. We are very interested in funding projects on a smaller scale that can serve as building blocks for more comprehensive efforts going forward.

Out of School Time grants

Out of School Time grants will focus on supporting and expanding the critical role libraries play for children and teens during the 60 percent of their lives they aren't in school. Funded projects will focus on programs designed to improve and support the social-emotional development of school-aged children, and/or the workplace preparedness of teens, during out-of-school times (after school, weekends, and summer). Projects must also include a component where youth have a leadership voice in designing and implementing activities.

We are focusing on social and emotional learning (SEL) for these grants at the recommendation of our public libraries. According to casel.org, "Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." Research shows that SEL leads to many good outcomes for children. These include: increased academic achievement, decreased dropout rates and behavioral problems, reduced poverty and improved economic mobility, and improved lifetime outcomes. For governments it represents a strong return on investment, calculated at 11 dollars for every dollar spent. The CASEL website may be one good resource for information and connections on incorporating social/emotional learning into programs and services.

Workplace preparedness programs that are designed to help teens get ready to enter the workforce by focusing on the development of life skills such as a positive work ethic, communication skills, the ability to work in a team, and problem-solving are also candidates for funding under this program area.

Bringing the Library to You

Bringing the Library to You: Mobile Library Solutions grants ($3 million) will help libraries implement new ways to bring literacy, technology and other services to those who face challenges visiting their local public library.

Funded projects can include the purchase or modification of vehicles, such as bookmobiles, vans, bikes, or other vehicles, to extend library services to hard-to-reach populations. The parameters of this grant program were officially expanded in legislation passed in late September 2019 (SB 109, Chapter 363, Statutes of 2019), to include projects that will employ other methods of extending the library's reach, including lockers and pop-up libraries. Projects may also include proposals for program support for existing vehicles that are underutilized because of lack of staff and other resources such as collections and equipment. We're also interested in projects involving vehicles that use alternative fuels, such as electric vehicles.

If your library would like to apply to participate in a pilot of Bibliotheca's Open+ project, that application counts as a mobile library solutions grant. The grant process for libraries seeking to implement Open+ will be run separately, so please do not use the current application to apply for Open+. Complete information can be found on the Califa website. Grant applications for the Open+ initiative are due Monday, May 4, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Grant Details


An applicant must be a California public library, or a California cooperative system, consortium or library membership organization. Applications from cooperatives, consortia or library organizations must apply on behalf of a specific, already-defined group of affiliate libraries.

Grant amounts

We expect most awards to be from $25,000 to $250,000, though we may consider smaller or larger amounts (for example, in the case of a cooperative application) on a case-by-case basis.

Open grant application opportunities for all eligible applicants.

  • Process will open in January 2020
  • All libraries considering applying must complete a brief, non-binding questionnaire by February 11, 2020. This form is to help the State Library determine training and other needs
  • The full application will be due by April 8, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Libraries facing challenges completing the full application by deadline should contact Beverly Schwartzberg.
  • Award notification by mid-April 2020
  • The grant period will begin July 1, 2020 and may run for up to 21 months (until March 31, 2022). You can propose projects of a shorter length if you wish, but the minimum is 12 months.

Match requirements

We are requiring a match for these grants, which may be cash or in-kind, or a combination of both. The match will be based on your library's local income per capita level, or LIPC, which is derived from public library survey data. For libraries in LIPC Level 1, a 20% match will be required. For LIPC Level 2, a 25% match will be required. For LIPC Level 3, a 30% match will be required. The match is a percentage of funds requested, not a percentage of the total budget. For example, the 20% match on a $100,000 funding request would be $20,000. We will consider reductions in match on a limited, case-by-case basis.

The LIPC list is included at the end of this FAQ document and is also available on the project webpage.

Number of applications

A library jurisdiction may apply for a grant in each category. Library jurisdictions with 30-60 outlets may apply for up to two grants in each category, and jurisdictions with over 60 outlets may apply for up to three grants in each category.


Each funded project will have at least one partner. A partner is defined as an organization with which your library has a written agreement and which also provides resources to the project, in cash or in-kind, or both. If a written agreement is not available at the time of the application, it must be provided after an award letter is sent and before a claim form can be accepted.


The grant proposal requires that libraries describe predicted outcomes and benefits. The State Library will develop a uniform evaluation method for similar grants after making the grant awards, and will provide training and resources for libraries to complete the evaluation. All funded projects will use the shared evaluation method. Libraries may use (and report on) their own evaluation method or outside evaluator in addition to the required evaluation, but are not required to conduct this second evaluation.


Training on topics relevant to each opportunity area will be offered throughout the project period, from the application period through implementation. Libraries receiving funding are expected to participate in relevant learning opportunities, particularly if the training covers topics in which staff members have not been able to receive previous education. Training will include webinars, online courses, in-person events, networking, resource sharing, and other events.


The application will include a question about how you will sustain your project after the grant period. We would like to see elements of your project that will improve the likelihood of sustainability; these include, but are not limited to:

  • Strong/committed partnerships
  • Effective evaluation techniques and strategies, so that the results of your project can be documented and communicated, to help you gain support from a range of stakeholders and volunteers


The application includes an option for libraries to indicate their interest and willingness to work with other library jurisdictions pursuing similar projects. Collaboration may include joint training, networking and information sharing, and/or planning.

Allowable/unallowable costs

The following is a list of allowed and costs for these grants. This list covers the main questions we've received so far about allowable costs, but is not intended to be comprehensive. If you have questions, please ask the project monitor:

  • No major construction costs are allowed, but minor improvements specific to the project space, such as carpeting in one area, furniture, shelving, lighting, etc., or a privacy space build, are allowable
  • Staffing costs can be included
  • Programming costs are allowed, such as materials, supplies, minor equipment, and food when used to enhance full participation in the program
  • Collection and resources are allowed
  • Vehicles including uplift, interior and exterior improvements, and pop-up library equipment are allowed
  • Travel (in-state except by approval) is allowed
  • Project promotion/marketing costs are allowed. The California State Library should be acknowledged in your promotional materials.

Unallowable costs include but are not limited to (please ask if you have questions):

  • Fundraising activities, including grant writing
  • Cash reserves and endowment holdings; purchase of land, buildings or major construction
  • Out-of-state activities including travel
  • Non-educational social activities such as receptions, parties, galas
  • Gifts/prizes/incentives; cash prizes or gift certificates with monetary value
  • Contributions and donations to other entities
  • Expenses incurred before the start of the grant period, or after the ending date of the grant period without extension request and approval
  • Lobbying activities that are intended to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of government officials

Proposal review

The criteria by which we will evaluate proposals include:

  • Sustainability (as outlined above)
  • Partnerships inside and outside the library
  • Demonstrated community need
  • Evidence of capacity and robust planning
  • Community involvement in project development
  • Potential impact and cost-benefit
  • A social-emotional component for early learning and out-of-school programs
  • Programming component for mobile libraries

We will also review proposals with a view toward inclusion of public libraries of different sizes, types and geographies.

Reporting requirements

Grantees will be required to submit narrative and financial reports every six months.

From Online Question and Answer Session, February 10, 2020

Can any public library apply for the Shared Vision Early Learning, Shared Vision Out of School Time, or Bringing the Library to You grants?

Only those libraries that have filled out the non-binding but required Interest Survey may apply. The survey was due February 11, 2020. You don’t have to apply for everything you marked on the survey, but you can’t apply for anything you didn’t indicate.

Can other organizations apply?

Besides public libraries, only library cooperatives and consortia/library membership organizations may apply (but only if the application is driven by needs of specific, already-defined group of libraries).

How many applications can we submit?

One in each category unless you have 30+ outlets.

Jurisdictions with 30‐60 outlets may submit up to two applications in each category; those with over 60 outlets may submit up to three applications in each category.

We have more than 30 branches and were planning to submit two applications in the mobile library categories. Are we limited to one vehicle per application?

You’re limited to $250,000 per application, but not limited to a number of vehicles.

What about Open+?

An Open+ application is considered a mobile libraries application. Open+ is a Bibliotheca product that allows libraries to open with card access when unstaffed or minimally staffed. Califa will be managing the Open+ project, including the application process. Complete information can be found on the Califa website.

May we apply for Open+ and a mobile libraries grant?

An Open+ application is considered a mobile libraries application. You do not have to fill out the interest survey to indicate a desire to apply for Open+.

If you have 30+ outlets, you may apply for both opportunities.

If you have fewer than 30 outlets and apply for Open+, you cannot apply for another mobile library project; if you apply for a mobile library project, you cannot apply for Open+.

Has the application been changed?

Yes, there are new word limits.

Application Item Word Limit
Statement of Need/Problem/Aspiration 400
Project Design 600
Experience and Planning 400

What is a planning matrix?

For each application, we ask that you use the charts on the project website to help you plan, then attach the appropriate matrix to your application.

For mobile libraries, there’s a detailed Excel sheet to help you plan. That’s just for you; it doesn’t need to be attached to your application, but the shorter matrix does.

Explain the matching funds levels.

Find out your library’s Library Income Per Capita (LIPC) level. How? Look at the list on the grant website or use the dropdown menu on the grant application.

LIPC Level Percentage
1 20%
2 25%
3 30%

Match is calculated as percentage of your request, not % of total budget.

For example, a $100,000 request from a LIPC level 1 library (20% match) would need minimum $20,000 match.

A $200,000 request from a LIPC level 3 (30% match) library would need a $60,000 match.

What can the match consist of?

  • Cash
  • In-kind (can include staff salaries, partner contributions, volunteer time calculated at Independent Sector rates for CA)

Do we have to have match upfront?

Match may be provided any time during project period (to March 31, 2022)

Is budget broken down per year in the application?

No, the budget reflects entire project period, which may extend to 3/31/22. You will have to explain how you calculate staff time over that period, for example.

What about indirect costs?

You may request indirect costs but you must justify the percentage rate you request.

If this grant is for three years 2020 to 2022, will the awarded amount be split annually? Will the grant funds be awarded in advance, or will the award be on a reimbursement basis?

Funds will be awarded on a 90/10 basis. The first claim is 90% (and is awarded directly, not by reimbursement). The final claim of 10% received when all project paperwork is completed.

Can the State Library pay a contractor directly?

No. Funds will be awarded to libraries or other qualified applicants only.

I heard the Partnership webinar was really great. How can I watch it?

Information and links to all past webinars can be found at https://www.library.ca.gov/grants/shared-vision/#webinars (scroll up to get the general link if the original link just leads you to the registration page). Most of the webinars were produced by Infopeople, and you can find them at https://vimeo.com/showcase/6709534.

What about reporting?

Grantees will complete financial and narrative reports every six months. The final report will cover nine months (July 2021-March 2022).

Do you have any template or criteria regarding reporting. i.e., can we truly design the evaluation metrics ourselves, or are there specific metrics (beyond a financial report) the State will be asking for?

Do we have to develop project evaluation for our proposal?

The State Library will be working with you to develop a shared evaluation technique and standards.

Why? So we can demonstrate collective impact, rather than just separate project data.

Does a template exist for the required partnership signed agreement?

No, there is no specific template. Some libraries have submitted MOUs or other forms. Please feel free to contact us, and we will work with you.

If we are applying for an Open+ grant, we didn’t need to fill out the survey, right?

Correct, you did not have to fill out the survey to be eligible to apply for the Open+ grant.

Are there any CIPA filtering requirements to apply for the mobile library grants?

None of the Shared Vision/Bringing the Library to You grant opportunities have CIPA requirements; since these are not Federal funds there are no CIPA filtering requirements.

Does the grant cover construction cost of a secure car port for a book mobile?

Most likely not. Small-scale renovation for specific services may be approved. However, we are open to discussion on your project. Please connect with us directly.

If we are requesting over $10,000, do we have to itemize the furniture items?

If you are purchasing a number of items where each individual piece of equipment costs $5,000 or more, please include information in the narrative space provided on the application. If you are requesting a large number of items such as “furniture” you should also include a breakdown on costs. This helps us determine if the funds are appropriately used for purposes of the grant.