To further encourage partnerships between local governments and design experts, the National Endowment for the Arts announced Tuesday it is giving $6.5 million in grants to 51 communities.

The goal of the “Our Town” program, said NEA chairman Rocco Landesman, was to shape strategies that would incorporate the arts into the overall vitality and look of neighborhoods and cities.

“Communities across our country are investing in the arts and smart design to enhance Americans’ quality of life and to promote the distinctive identities of our communities,” said Landesman.

One regional organization receiving a grant is the Maryland Institute College of Art. The NEA awarded the school $150,000 to support its efforts to improve the indoor and outdoor spaces in its surrounding district.