As the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has advanced over the last three years, one of the major challenges it has faced is the lack of effective, widespread tools among would-be data providers for stewarding and syndicating digital content. In March 2015, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded $2M to DPLA, Stanford and DuraSpace for the “Hydra-in-a-Box” project to help address this need. This is the largest single grant made in IMLS history, and it was made as part of its recently-announced funding priorities, the National Digital Platform. The goals of the 2.5 year project are to polish and package the robust and flexible Hydra repository software into a “feature complete-enough” digital repository, and one that can be readily adopted as a turnkey solution or via cloud-based services. While Hydra has demonstrated versatility and strength as a framework for those seeking to assemble their own repository-based applications (or “Hydra heads”), the Hydra-in-a-Box project will accelerate development of critical, core features AND also bring a dedicated focus to making the software easy to get up and running. The ultimate goal of the effort is to provide a true, national platform for managing digital content—one that equips the library, archive and museum communities with a best-of-breed repository for local use, and that links resources and services together for networked access (including but not only DPLA). This presentation will provide an in-depth look at the project’s goals, timelines, and early progress. Among these are the results of an extensive international survey of hundreds of repositories about desired features, and intensive focus groups and requirements gathering to feed the user-centered design process. The project update will also touch on how the partners are consciously co-opting the energy of both the DPLA and Hydra communities to inform requirements, foster contributions, and ensure long-term community alignment and sustainability through uptake.