National Endowment for the Humanities
Because democracy demands wisdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.
Definition of Humanities
"The term 'humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life."
- NEH's funding programs are divided into seven divisions, each offering several grant opportunities (http://www.neh.gov/divisions):
- Division of Education Programs
- Division of Preservation and Access
- Division of Public Programs
- Division of Research Programs
- Federal/State Partnership
- Office of Challenge Grants
- Office of Digital Humanities
- Every grant opportunity has slightly different proposal guidelines. All grant opportunities are listed here: http://www.neh.gov/grants
- Sample successful proposals and budgets are included on the webpage of most grant opportunities.
- Your proposal will be assigned to members of a review panel for your grant program. It will receive around five reviews.
- Reviewers score each proposal using the following scale:
- E - Excellent
- VG - Very Good
- G - Good
- SM - Some Merit
- N - Not Considered
- Each grant has different review criteria - see "Application Review" section on each grant opportunity webpage.
- The top-ranked applications are then forwarded to the National Council on the Humanities for review. The council is a twenty-six member body nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
- After reviewing the applications, the council makes recommendations to the Chairman of the Endowment. The Chairman takes into account the advice provided by the review process and, by law, makes all funding decisions.
- Award rate varies by program.
- Reviewers look for "quality" not geographic distribution of grant awarded.
Contacting Program Officers
- NEH encourages contact with the relevant program officer for your grant throughout your application process EXCEPT in the case of NEH Fellowships and Summer Stipends (prior to approval to submit via campus limited submission process).
- Reasons to contact a NEH program officer:
- Find out if your research topic "fits" a particular program
- Ask for review of 1 page concept paper
- Ask for review of proposal draft (AT LEAST 6 weeks before deadline)
- Ask for reviewer comments and panel summary after proposal has been declined or awarded
- Ask about details of proposed budget
- On the application form, make sure you check the appropriate research area, so the most qualified reviewers will assess your proposal.
- Plan to submit at least a day early because grants.gov can be fussy.
- Be explicit and clear about the significance of the contribution that your project will make to thought and knowledge in the humanities.
- Articulate clearly how the research is clearly linked to the stated objectives of the fellowship program (perhaps use the objectives as headers in your narrative).
- If your research will result in a book, a contract with a publisher is not necessary, but may be a "light plus" for your application.
- When letters of reference are required, it is much better to have well-informed, detailed letters from professors who know your work, than cursory, less-well-informed letters from academics with high reputations.
- Grant applications that propose turning a dissertation into a book have virtually no chance for success.
- Cost-sharing from campus or a partner organization is required for some NEH programs. Discuss cost-sharing options with your department or administering ORU when developing your budget.