Recordings at Risk

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Recordings at Risk is a national regranting program administered by CLIR to support the preservation of rare and unique audio, audiovisual, and other time-based media of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since January 2017, the program will run nine competitions from 2017 to 2021 and will award a total of $4.5 million. Awards range from $10,000 to $50,000 and cover costs of preservation reformatting for fragile and/or obsolete time-based media content by qualified external service providers. Eligible media may include, but are not necessarily limited to, magnetic audio and video tape, grooved discs, wax cylinders, wire recordings, and film (with or without sound). Review our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on eligible projects.

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.

Recordings at Risk occasionally sends announcements and news about this program and the Digitizing Hidden Collections program by email. Subscribe to be added to our distribution list. On Twitter, you can find the program @CLIRgrants. We welcome your feedback and/or ideas about ways to improve CLIR’s grant programs which may be submitted through our online grants feedback form.

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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 project


The urgency of undertaking reformatting to avoid risk of loss

Potential for preservation

The viability of the work plan and deliverables for preserving the content over time

Approach to access

The approach to legal and ethical concerns affecting access

Program Timeline

*Note: Dates are subject to change at any time prior to issuing each call. No dates pertinent to a call will be changed once that call is issued.

Ninth Call for Applications

September 27 2021
Application Opens
October 6 2021
Applicant Informational Webinar
December 15 2021
Application Deadline
April 4 2022
Recipients Announced


Organization types

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

  • Both the applicant organization 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 the CLIR Grants Team 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. Any tribal entities, including those not currently covered by the above description, are encouraged to contact the CLIR Grants Team to discuss questions of eligibility for this program.

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 the CLIR Grants Team to ascertain their eligibility.

Award Terms

  • Applicants may request as little as $10,000 or as much as $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.
  • Applicant organizations may submit only one application per cycle.
  • Applicants must agree to create appropriate descriptive and technical metadata for all content digitized through grant funds during the grant term, and to dedicate this metadata to the public domain.
    • CLIR will make exceptions for culturally sensitive metadata. Please contact the CLIR Grants Team with any questions regarding exceptions to this requirement.
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