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ARPA Awards 2021: FAQ

This guide will provide all the information you need to apply for an ARPA award from Washington State Library: forms, explanations, ideas, and links

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ARPA applications closed 4/15/22

ARPA Awards, reimbursements, contracts

What are ARPA funds?

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is a federal program that was approved by Congress in March. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) determined the priorities and rules surrounding how these funds may be used and distributed the funds to State Libraries. The grant funds may be used for materials or technology to support digital inclusion efforts to enable libraries to reach residents, especially in support of education, health, and workforce development needs; and/or to respond to the pandemic and implement public health protocols.

What does the first IMLS high priority spending category mean by "digital inclusion"?

From the National Digital Inclusion Alliance: Digital inclusion "refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies. This includes 5 elements: 1) affordable, robust broadband internet service; 2) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; and 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration. Digital Inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional and structural barriers to access and use technology."

What is a CFDA number? What is the CFDA # for this grant?

CFDA stands for the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

The CFDA # is 45.310 (for the State Library program, Office of Library Services, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities).

Does the applicant have to sign a contract with the State Library?

Your organization will sign a contract with the Office of the Secretary of State. Washington State Library is a division of the Secretary of State.

When will our contract be signed and in place?

We hope to begin drafting the contracts immediately.  The Office of the Secretary of State’s Financial Division will develop, route for review, and obtain signatures needed for contract execution. WSL will notify the Contracting Authority by email when the contract is fully executed. Then reimbursable work and purchases may start.

When will we receive funding?

We’ll reimburse your organization for allowable expenses after we receive a reimbursement form and supporting documentation. You will need to document what you acquired and that you paid for it. Sometimes all the information will be in one document, and sometimes it requires two. If there is any additional staff time paid for with award funds, you will have to send payroll and timesheets. We have a form available to document that the hours are allowable. They must be in excess of regularly scheduled hours, for the express purpose of doing the project, and cannot bring the employees total hours into overtime (40 hours/week).

If we receive a sub-grant, when may we start spending the grant money?

As soon as your contract is executed (signed by both parties).

Reimbursements: The grants are in the form of reimbursements only. The State Library will provide provide reimbursement forms that you must use to claim reimbursement. Organizations must expend local money first and then claim reimbursement. WSL does not distribute funds in advance of activities or purchases. WSL reimburses documented eligible and allowable expenses.

Materials, services and equipment must be purchased after the grant contract is fully signed and expended by 6/30/2022. All invoices, receipts, bills of sale, etc. must be dated prior to 6/30/2022 and be paid by the your organization. Proof of purchase and payment is required for reimbursement. Reimbursement requests must be received at the State Library by 7/30/2022.

Any costs incurred before contract execution will not be eligible for reimbursement.

What documentation will I need to provide for reimbursement?

You will need an invoice marked paid, a receipt, a bill of sale with a zero balance, a copy or copies of checks used to pay the invoice. If you make purchases online, and pay with a credit card, save the order confirmation, any invoices, or bills, credit card statements, and copies of checks used to pay, or payment confirmation for online purchases. Just save everything that shows you ordered it, received it (like packing slips), were charged for it, and paid it. Submit all this proof when you request reimbursement. Make sure the dates on these documents are between the signed dates on the Grant Agreement and 6/30/2022.

Do I actually have to spend all the money by the deadline on 6/30/2022, or I can I just encumber it for future expenses?

The grant funds must be spent. The state fiscal department will not reimburse encumbrances of the funds.

How much grant money can I get?

The amounts have been calculated for each library using a formula that takes into account the type of organization and in some cases, the 2018 service area population or 2019 operating budget.

How did you arrive at these grant amounts?

  • Academic libraries   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . $10,000.
  • Tribal libraries   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  $7,500.
  • County Law Libraries  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . $5,000.
  • Public libraries   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  $6,000  
    plus $.25 p/p for service area population.
  • Museums :  .  .  .  .$3,000, $5,000 or $10,000
    according to size

Can I use this grant to pay for past purchases?

No, it can only be used for future purchases. You can't use it to reimburse the library or municipality.

Applications and allowable costs

May we apply for more than one award?

No. Each qualified organization is eligible for one award. Please include all you want to do in your budget proposal. If there are errors in your proposal, we’ll contact you with recommended changes and you can resubmit. (An exception would be a municipality with a library and a museum. In that case, the municipality may apply for awards for each.)

Can I send you my grant application by fax or mail?

No. We only accept applications through our online application form. If you have accessibility issues, contact WSLgrants@sos.wa.gov.

We're a municipal library (museum). Can I use my town's DUNS number, or do I need to set up a unique number?

Municipal organizations must use their town's or city's DUNS number. The ‘parent’ organization, that is fiscally responsible for your library or museum, whether it’s a college, town, or county provides the DUNS, Tax ID and Statewide Vendor Number for the application. This is very important for auditing schedules.

What if we don’t have a Statewide Vendor Number?

The only way we can reimburse is using a Statewide Vendor number. If your organization receives any money from the state, they already have a number. Talk to someone in your finance department.

Unfortunately, Washington State Library is not able to process requests for numbers. For information about the Statewide Vendor numbers, please consult with Washington State Department of Enterprise Services at the link below:

https://ofm.wa.gov/it-systems/accounting-systems/statewide-vendorpayee-services

Who is the Contracting Authority?

The Contracting Authority is the person who has the authority to accept federal monies and bind his or her organization to a legal contract. In public libraries, library districts and systems, it may be a local government department head or the library/system director. In tribal libraries, it may be another individual. In academic libraries, it is likely a grants or contracts office.

Who is the Project Manager and what are their responsibilities?

The Project Manager coordinates the activities and communication between WSL, other members of the grant project, and the grant project’s fiscal agent. As the Project Manager is the primary person WSL will contact about specific project work, there may be only one Project Manager identified as such on the application. This person is responsible for the preparation and submission all reports, communicating deadlines and other tasks to collaborative partners, submitting properly signed reimbursement requests, and work completion. The Project Manager is also responsible for notifying WSL of any changes to their contracting authority, fiscal agent, or their own position as Project Manager.

What are the responsibilities of the Fiscal Agent?

The Fiscal Agent is the person who pays the bills and maintains the financial records for the applicant. That person may be termed the business manager, the accountant, or something else. The fiscal agent must be from the same organization as the Contracting Authority. Foundations cannot act as fiscal agent. The fiscal agent must sign the grant contract.

Can we request indirect costs? (AKA administrative or overhead)

There is a line item in your budget proposal for indirect costs. If you don’t have a federally negotiated rate you may request up to 10% of the total budgeted amount as indirect costs. This must be included in your budget; it isn’t in addition to the total.

  • No one is required to request indirect costs.
  • If you have a federally negotiated rate, you must use that rate.

Please refer to https://www.imls.gov/grants/apply-grant/fy15nofolinks#indirect if your entity does not have a negotiated rate, or for more information. This is included in your budget in the application.

Why are you asking about things that cost $5,000 or more?

Under Federal regulations (2 CFR §200.439), any single item that costs over $5,000 needs prior approval from IMLS. We'll ask you for information on what the item is, who it is for, for what purpose (as related to at least one of the three high priority spending categories established by IMLS for ARPA funding), cost, and what goal it contributes to in WSL's LSTA five-year plan. Also, attach a copy of the quote in Word (not pdf) and a product brochure or website about the item.

How does the grant application approval process work?

If you want this grant money for your library, it's yours, but you do need to meet all the Federal and state requirements for the funding. After you submit your grant application, we'll review it to confirm that your expenses are eligible and are addressing the high priority spending categories defined by IMLS. If so, we’ll notify you by email. If not, we'll get back in touch with you to ask for a revised proposal.

IMLS funds can't be spent on "construction." What does that mean?

IMLS has strict criteria for whether something qualifies as construction or not. Here’s the rule in a nutshell, but please ask if you have any questions.

  • How permanent is it? Is it movable/flexible/modular and a staff member could take it with them to another location? (This would be allowable.)
  • Is there a construction-related trade involved? Would it need contract labor? (This would not be allowable) Or would a regular staff member be able to assemble it with basic tools like a screwdriver? (This would be allowable)

Sometimes a workable solution may be to purchase the equipment with award funds, but have the installation portion paid by another source. In any case, please be sure to check beforehand.

Can I use my ARPA funds to purchase a three-year license or lease?

Any services paid for with ARPA grant funds have to end by 6/30/2022, but you can pro-rate it and pay for the portion of service that comes before that date.

We would like to offer prizes or incentives to our patrons. Is that allowable?

Prizes and incentives are not allowable costs. See OMB Code of Federal Regulations: www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=3a3f21216554fd54f9be9d89a0cf33b6&node=se2.1.200_1421. However, educational items, such as bookmarks which specifically support the project are allowable costs. One solution is to find other funding sources for prizes and incentives, such as local businesses, Friends of the Library groups, or foundations.

We would like to offer food or refreshments at our events. Is that allowable?

Food or refreshments are not allowable costs. See OMB Code of Federal Regulations: www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=3a3f21216554fd54f9be9d89a0cf33b6&node=se2.1.200_1438. Again, a possible solution is to find other funding sources for this through local businesses, Friends of the Library groups, or foundations.

We have a question about the grant or the grant application.

If you cannot find the answer to your question in the LibGuide, please contact WSLgrants@sos.wa.gov, or see our Contacts page for more information. If you’re considering submitting an application but want feedback on your proposal, we recommend submitting a meeting request to WSLgrants@sos.wa.gov, we will provide you possible times for a video conference or telephone call.

CIPA & More

CIPA: Because this grant funding is coming from the federal funding through ARPA, library compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) must be verified.  A library must have a technology protection measure in place if grant money will be used for any equipment connected to the Internet. Equipment that connects to the internet may be subject to compliance with the CIPA.

Will not having CIPA* disqualify my organization?

No, but there are certain items that you will not be allowed to purchase with LSTA federal funding. Anything that connects to the internet and will be used by the public is only allowable with a CIPA agreement in place.

We have detailed many items in the Allowable Expenses tab.

* Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

If I use my grant funds to pay for internet service or hotspots and laptops to loan out, does that mean my whole library has to be CIPA compliant?

Yes. CIPA compliance is required when using federal funds to pay internet fees or to purchase any device that provides access to the internet, including laptops, tablets, and hotspots Also see this helpful guidance from ALA on how CIPA applies to these purchases.

How do I filter hotspots?

Check with your hotspot vendor. They should be familiar with this concept.

If we decide to go through the steps to be CIPA compliant, what's the timeframe?

Your organization must be fully CIPA compliant prior to activating or using the new internet accessible devices that you purchased with ARPA grant funds. For example, if you're buying hotspots or laptops with ARPA funds, the organization must be CIPA compliant before anyone can use them.

  • ­ -      -     -     -

Do you have a sample press release I can adapt for my library?

We’ll send out a sample when your award is approved.

What are the deadlines again?

  • June 14, 2021 – applications open.

When we receive your application, we’ll send you a copy for your records.

  • July – contracts execution begins.
  • June 30, 2022 – Deadline for spending.

All funds must be SPENT (not just encumbered) by this date.

  • July 30, 2022 – final report due. OK to submit sooner!

What will I need to submit with the final report?

We’ll provide a report template. The State Library is looking for outcomes and impacts of these projects, especially how your project affected your community in response to the pandemic. WSL will send a short online form that you’ll need to fill out indicating how you spent the money, the impact of the improvements on your community, and data and evaluations from public participants.

This means you’ll want to keep track of public engagement and use our short evaluation form for public programs.

Is there a match requirement?

No, you do not need to document any matching funds for this grant.

What if we want to spend more than the grant award?

Go ahead! This is a great opportunity to combine grant funds with library, municipal, or private funds to do something even bigger and better. But be aware that your total grant award will not increase no matter how much you spend.

Is it OK if we work with partner organizations?

Yes! Leveraging your existing partner network and finding new partners is a great idea. The things you purchase with ARPA funds can be loaned out by or housed at partner locations. For example, a community center can loan out laptops you provide them, or you could put a WiFi-enabled charging station at the senior center.

What does the first IMLS high priority spending category mean by "digital inclusion"?

From the National Digital Inclusion Alliance: Digital inclusion "refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies. This includes 5 elements: 1) affordable, robust broadband internet service; 2) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; and 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration. Digital Inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional and structural barriers to access and use technology."

What if prices change from our original proposed budget, an item is no longer available, or we change our minds?

If the thing you had planned to purchase is no longer available, then we'd expect you to purchase something else similar that does the same thing. If prices go up, then you'll either need to absorb the extra cost, or not purchase something you had planned to purchase. If you have money left over unexpectedly, contact wslgrants@sos.wa.gov and let us know how you'd like to spend it. We'll let you know if it's eligible. We do expect grantees to adhere to their original spending plan, contacting us if something changes.

If your question isn't answered here, please ASK US.
WSLgrants@sos.wa.gov