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

Deadline: May 18, 2021

The purpose 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. Applicants must work wholly or in part in the humanities: they must support research, education, preservation, or public programming in the humanities. Expenditures must be shown to bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly.

The program funds two distinct types of projects, each with its own Notice of Funding Opportunity:

  • Capital Projects support the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities. This includes the purchase and installation of related moveable and permanently affixed equipment for exhibiting, maintaining, monitoring, and protecting collections (whether on exhibit or in storage), and for critical building systems, such as heating ventilation and air conditioning, security, lighting, telecommunications, and energy management.
  • Digital Infrastructure supports the maintenance, modernization, and sustainability of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms. A digital project is considered “infrastructure” if it is widely used by a community over the long term. Such projects support many users across multiple institutions and communities over a sustained period of time and should have dedicated software and hardware funding and full-time staff in place to ensure that they can thrive.

Fundraising is a critical part of NEH Challenge grant awards: up to 10 percent of total funds (Challenge matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance.

NEH especially welcomes applications from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education (HSIs), as well as from two-year community colleges. These institutions are eligible for special matching requirements. See solicitation for details.

As the nation approaches its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH encourages projects that promote a deeper understanding of American history and culture and that advance civic education and knowledge of the core principles of government in the U.S.

Note: Program officers will review draft proposals submitted by April 6, 2021. A pre-application webinar will be held on March 19, 2021. See solicitation for details.

Amount: Awards of up to $750,000 will be made for a period up to five years.
Note: Recipients must raise matching gifts from non-federal third-party sources:

  • Requests for grants $500,000 or less must be matched at $3 in non-federal gifts for every $1 in federal funds (3:1)
  • Requests for grants exceeding $500,000 and up to $750,000 must be matched at $4 in non-federal gifts for every $1 in federal funds (4:1)
  • Eligible HBCUs, TCUs, HSIs, and two-year community colleges must match $1 in non-federal gifts for every $1 in federal funds, regardless of the awarded amount

Eligibility: For both grant categories, eligible applicants include: U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, accredited public and 501 (c)(3) institutions of higher education, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments.

Links: Funding announcement: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=331876 ; RFP for Capital Projects: https://bit.ly/3l1AQ3c ; RFP for Digital Infrastructure: https://bit.ly/2OHIbZO

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