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National Endowment for the Humanities: Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants

Deadline: May 15, 2019

The mission of the Challenge Grants program is to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by enabling infrastructure development and capacity building. Awards aim to help institutions secure long-term support for their core activities and expand efforts to preserve and create access to outstanding humanities materials.

Through these awards, organizations can increase their humanities capacity through capital expenditures to support the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities and the purchase of equipment and software. Such expenditures bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly.

Challenge grants may also support long-term humanities projects with funds invested in a restricted, short-term endowment or other investment fund (or spend-down fund) that generate expendable earnings to support and enhance ongoing humanities activities. Eligible activities include the preservation and conservation of humanities materials, and the sustaining of digital infrastructure for the humanities. Fundraising is a critical part of Challenge grant awards: up to 10 percent of total funds (federal matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance. Challenge funds (both federal matching funds and required nonfederal gifts) must enhance the humanities in the long term. Challenge grants should not merely replace funds already being expended, but instead should reflect careful strategic planning to strengthen and enrich an institution’s humanities activities. Institutions may use challenge funds to meet both ongoing and one-time humanities-related costs, provided that the long-term benefit of the expenditure can be demonstrated.

Capital expenditures:

  • The design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities and historic landscapes. All funded projects involving construction, renovation, repair, rehabilitation, or ground or visual disturbances must comply with federal regulations and requirements.

Investment in a restricted, short-term endowment or other investment fund (or spend-down fund) that will generate income to support the following activities:

  • The preservation and conservation of collections. Funds may be used for long-term (five- to ten-year) preservation and conservation projects and programs centered on humanities materials. Activities may include the examination and treatment of collections, preventative conservation treatment, and the hiring of preservation and conservation staff to conduct project activities.
  • Sustaining digital infrastructure for the humanities. Funds may be used for long-term (five- to ten-year) support for ongoing costs for existing digital infrastructure projects and programs for the humanities, including integrating digital resources for improved long-term preservation and access; developing sustainable repository infrastructures; extending the functionality of existing digital platforms to improve sustainability; and creating mechanisms for ensuring the long-term functioning of digital resources. The program also supports activities such as paying hosting fees, upgrading software, and adding new or updated content. Costs related to marketing services to users as well as providing support and training for users can also be included in the request.

Amount: Grants may range up to $750,000 but generally will not exceed $500,000. Recipients must provide a match that is three times the amount of federal funds for grants up to $500,000 and four times the amount of federal funds offered for grants in excess of $500,000. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and two-year colleges are required only to match the federal funds offered on a one-to-one basis (whatever the size of the grant).

Eligibility: U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply, provided that they work wholly or in part with the humanities, supporting research, education, preservation, or public programming in the humanities. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education. Affiliated institutions (for example, a university museum) with separate 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status are also eligible to apply.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=313804

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