National Endowment for the Humanities

NEH Challenge Grants

Program Summary

NEH challenge grants are capacity-building grants, intended to help institutions and organizations secure long-term improvements in and support for their humanities programs and resources. Through these awards, many organizations and institutions have been able to increase their humanities capacity and secure the permanent support of an endowment. Grants may be used to establish or enhance endowments or spend-down funds that generate expendable earnings to support and enhance ongoing program activities. Challenge grants may also provide capital directly supporting the procurement of long-lasting objects, such as acquisitions for archives and collections, the purchase of equipment, and the construction or renovation of facilities needed for humanities activities. Funds spent directly must be shown to bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly. Grantee institutions may also expend up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal funds plus matching funds) to defray costs of fundraising to meet the NEH challenge. Because of the matching requirement, these NEH grants also strengthen the humanities by encouraging nonfederal sources of support.
 
Applications are welcome from colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, research institutions, historical societies and historic sites, scholarly associations, state humanities councils, and other nonprofit humanities entities. Programs that involve collaboration among multiple institutions are eligible as well, but one institution must serve as the lead agent and formal applicant of record.

Eligibility

Institutions may apply for only one NEH challenge grant in a calendar year. An institution is eligible to apply for a subsequent challenge grant beginning in the third year after the closing date of its most recent NEH challenge grant. Affiliated institutions (e.g., university museums) should consult with NEH staff on questions of separate eligibility.

Challenge grant funds (both federal and nonfederal together) must provide long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly. Challenge grant funds should not merely replace funds already being expended on the humanities, but instead should reflect careful strategic planning to strengthen and enrich the institution’s humanities activities and commitment to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the humanities.
 
NEH welcomes proposals that respond to NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative. Such projects could focus on cultures internationally or within the United States. International programs might seek to enlarge Americans’ understanding of other places and times, as well as other perspectives and intellectual traditions. American programs might explore the great variety of cultural influences on, and myriad subcultures within, American society. These programs might also investigate how Americans have approached and attempted to surmount seemingly unbridgeable cultural divides, or examine the ideals of civility and civic discourse that have informed this quest.  In connection with a focus on civic discourse, projects might explore the role of women in America’s civic life as well as the civic role of women in other cultures and regions of the world. 

Award Information

NEH will offer successful applicants a matching grant. The requested grant amount should be appropriate to the humanities needs and the fundraising capacity of the institution. The federal portions of NEH challenge grants have ranged in recent years from $75,000 to $500,000.  Requests over $500,000 are unlikely to be funded at the requested level.  Note that the program encourages requests for smaller grants for sharply defined purposes. 
 
NEH challenge grants assist institutions in developing sources of support for humanities programs, and fundraising is an integral part of the long-term planning that challenge grants require. Persons raising the funds as well as those who will be directly responsible for the humanities programs should be fully involved in the planning from the outset. Grant recipients must raise, from nonfederal donors, three times the amount of federal funds offered.  Grantee institutions may also expend up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal funds plus matching funds) to defray costs of fundraising to meet the NEH challenge. Because of the matching requirement, these NEH grants also strengthen the humanities by encouraging nonfederal sources of support.

To comply with the limitation of one submission per organization, please contact Ann Ricketts (ann-ricketts@uiowa.edu or 335-2102) in the Office of the Vice President for Research, by March 3, 2014, if you are interested in applying.

Date Due to Sponsor05/01/2014
Required LOI Due DateN/A
Non-Required LOI Due DateN/A
Email:ann-ricketts@uiowa.edu
Phone:319-335-2102
Sponsor URL:http://www.neh.gov/grants/challenge/challenge-grants

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