Recordings at Risk is a national regranting program administered by CLIR to support the preservation of rare and unique audio and audiovisual content of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program will run four competitions from January 2017 to September 2018 and will award a total of $2.3 million. Awards from the open competitions range from $10,000 to $50,000 and cover costs of preservation reformatting for audio and/or audiovisual content by qualified external service providers.

Recordings at Risk encourages professionals who may be constrained by limited resources and/or technical expertise to take action against the threats of degradation and obsolescence. The program aims to help institutions identify priorities and develop practical strategies for digital reformatting, build relationships with partners, and raise awareness of best practices.

The program occasionally sends announcements and news about this program and the Digitizing Hidden Collections program by e-mail; if you would like to be added to our distribution list, please click here.

Application Assessment Criteria

An independent review panel, comprised of scholars in a variety of domains and technologists with expertise in digitization and digital preservation, will evaluate applications using four primary criteria:


The potential scholarly and public impact of the proposed project


The urgency of undertaking the reformatting to avoid risk of loss


The viability of applicants’ plans for long-term preservation


The overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal.

Timeline for Third Call

  • Dec. 1, 2017

    Application Cycle Opens

  • Feb. 9, 2018

    Application Deadline

  • April 30, 2018

    Recipients Announced

Timeline for Fourth Call

  • May 1, 2018

    Application Cycle Opens

  • June 29, 2018

    Application Deadline

  • Sept. 28, 2018

    Recipients Announced


Institution types

Applicants must be U.S. nonprofit academic, research, or cultural heritage institutions. Please note that:

  • Both the applicant institution and its collections must be located in the United States or an associated entity, e.g. the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or American Samoa.
  • Grants may be made to government units and their agencies or instrumentalities, provided that cultural heritage is the primary function of the unit and grant funds will be used for charitable purposes within the scope of the Recordings at Risk program. We recommend that government units wishing to apply for a Recordings at Risk grant contact us to ascertain their eligibility.
  • Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, regional corporations, and village corporations are eligible to apply for funding.
    • For purposes of funding under this program, “Indian tribe” means any tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska native village, regional corporation, or village corporation (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)), which is recognized by the Secretary of the Interior as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians. A list of eligible entities is available from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, except for the recognized Alaska native villages, regional corporations, and village corporations, which should refer to applicable provisions in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, referenced above.

IRS Classifications

Generally speaking, to be eligible for this program applicants must be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt under one of the following:

  • IRS Code Section 501(c)3
  • IRS Code Section 115
  • IRS Code Section 170(c)1

Grants may be made to government units and their agencies or instrumentalities not organized under IRS Section 501(c)3, provided that collecting and disseminating scholarly and cultural resources are among the primary functions of the unit and grant funds will be used for charitable purposes within the scope of the Recordings at Risk program. We recommend that government units wishing to apply to Recordings at Risk contact us at to ascertain their eligibility.

Award Terms

  • Applicants may request as little as $10,000 or as much s $50,000 per project.
  • The grant may fund up to 100% of the direct costs of audio or audiovisual digital reformatting services to be provided by an external service provider.
    • In-house digitization projects are not eligible for this program.
  • Applicants institutions may submit only one application per cycle.
  • Applicants must agree to create appropriate descriptive and technical metadata for all content digitized through grant funds, and to dedicate this metadata to the public domain.
    • CLIR will make exceptions for culturally sensitive metadata. Please contact us with any questions regarding exceptions to this requirement.