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Open Grant Program and Discretionary Grant Program

Grants to Virginia Nonprofits for Public Humanities
Programs that Enrich the Cultural Life of Residents

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH)

Deadline Date:

10/15/18 5:00 PM Open Grants deadline; Discretionary Grant applications are accepted at any time.


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Grants of up to $10,000 and grants of up to $3,000 to Virginia nonprofit organizations, IHEs, teachers' institutes, libraries, and museums for public programming in the humanities. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a draft proposal at least four weeks prior to the deadline to allow time for a thorough staff review. Funding is intended for projects that increase public understanding of important issues and enrich the cultural life of the state, such as:

-Lectures or lecture series
-Community forums and public discussions, including book or film discussion programs
-Conferences and symposia
-Media programs: films, script development, videos, television, radio, and digital media projects
-Publications: brochures, posters, pamphlets, maps, books, journals, and catalogs
-Research leading to programs that have a direct public audience
-Institutes for teachers
-Community history projects, including oral histories

The VFH offers two kinds of grant programs, each with its own goals and requirements.

Open Grant Program:
Open to proposals on a wide range of subjects, for projects in any format, and for amounts typically up to $10,000. Draft proposals are strongly encouraged.

Discretionary Grant Program:
This program allows the VFH to make smaller grants—of up to $3,000—at any time during the year. These grants may be used to plan larger projects, or to carry out programs where only a modest amount of funding is required. Applicants should contact VFH staff in advance before submitting a Discretionary Grant proposal.

The term “humanities scholar” may include:
-Teaching or research college faculty
-Local historians or independent scholars who have a strong record of scholarship
-Professional museum curators
-Librarians, writers, and others whose work is strongly grounded in the humanities
-Persons representing various cultural traditions—a Native American tribal chief, for example, if they are recognized as spokespersons for their traditions.

While the grant program is designed to remain as open as possible to new ideas and initiatives, VFH funding priorities are:
-Books, reading, and literacy
-Rights and responsibilities
-Media and culture
-Violence and community
-Science, technology, and society
-Virginia history

Other specific areas of long-term interest and commitment for VFH and its grant programs include:
-Teacher education programs (especially those related to Virginia’s Standards of Learning)
-African American history and culture
-Virginia Indian history and culture(s)
-Cultures and communities in Virginia
-Virginia’s folklife and traditional culture(s)
-Local and regional history

The humanities emphasize analysis, interpretation, and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative explanation of the sciences. The goals of the VFH grant program are:
-To encourage the development of high-quality educational programs based in the humanities
-To create and support accessible programs that reach the broadest possible audience in Virginia
-To support the work of humanities institutions—museums, libraries, historical societies, colleges and universities—as well as other non-profit organizations working within the humanities,
-To explore the stories that define Virginia and its people, and to address the issues that are most important to communities in Virginia.

The above subject areas have been identified as being of special interest, but VFH's interests and funding for the Grant Program are not confined to these topics. Proposals on other subjects are welcome and encouraged.

Teachers’ Institutes and Seminars:
VFH grants may be used to support a broad range of institutes and seminars designed to serve the needs of Virginia’s teachers. In general, these programs should focus on content rather than on pedagogy and should include the development of curriculum materials or other resources that can be used directly in the classroom. Preference will be given to institutes and seminars that promote collaboration and dialogue among teachers from various jurisdictions, across disciplines, and between teachers and scholars—usually college and university faculty. VFH especially encourages applications from colleges and universities, as well as programs that are directly related to the SOL requirements. Teachers may be paid a modest stipend to cover travel or in cases where tuition waivers are not granted.

Film and Video:
VFH will support film and video projects in the early stages of their development, usually in the pre-production stage. Typically, funds are awarded for research and script development, or for the preparation of comprehensive “treatments.” Preference is given to film projects that explore the history and culture of Virginia and its communities, and to those that deal with issues of direct concern to Virginians.

Digital Media:
Digital media projects—websites, DVDs and CD publications—are eligible for VFH support when strong humanities content and the likelihood of a significant public audience are clearly demonstrated.

Oral History:
Oral history is an important tool for documenting many aspects of community life, and it can be used effectively in a wide range of settings. In considering proposals for oral history projects, the Foundation looks for evidence that the products will be of high quality; that they will create an accurate and meaningful picture through the memories being captured; and that they will be accessible to—and used by—members of the community or communities from which the histories are being gathered.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 125447

Estimated Size of Grant:

Open Grants: Amounts typically up to $10,000.
Discretionary Grants: Smaller grants of up to $3,000.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Any incorporated non-profit organization in Virginia is eligible to apply. Incorporated nonprofit organizations based outside of Virginia are also eligible if their project deals with a subject or subjects directly related to Virginia and a significant audience within the state is anticipated.

Individuals are not eligible to apply for VFH Grants. However, VFH does offer residential fellowships to independent and affiliated scholars and professionals working on projects in the humanities.

Teachers' Institutes and Seminars:
Applications for teachers’ institutes and seminars should follow the guidelines and instructions that apply to all VFH grants. In addition, these proposals should:
- Demonstrate that teachers have been consulted in planning the project
- Demonstrate support from the school systems that will be served
- Provide a detailed plan for promoting the program and recruiting teachers
- Include direct outreach to individual teachers through mailings, electronic list-serves, and other means
- Explain how the program content is related to specific SOL requirements
- Provide teachers with the means to acquire recertification points, graduate-level credit, or both as a result of their participation
- Include a detailed syllabus or outline
- Include a plan for evaluating the program’s subsequent classroom impact

If curriculum materials are being developed, provide an explanation of how these will be made available to teachers, and in what format. In most cases, participation should be limited to no more than 25 teachers. Sponsoring colleges and universities whose policies permit the waiver of tuition (for graduate credit) are strongly encouraged to do so.

Film and Video:
In rare instances, the Foundation will consider providing production support, especially where the film is intended primarily for local or institutional use, not statewide or national broadcast. Proposals for production support must include a script or comprehensive treatment and a fully developed plan for broadcast and/or distribution.

All media project applications should be accompanied by samples of the producer’s previous work. Applications for production support should include rough-cut footage of the proposed program. Applications for film and video projects should follow the guidelines and instructions that apply to all VFH grants. Budgets for film and video projects are often complex. Further itemization of the budget (beyond the general categories listed on the required budget form) is required unless staff advises to the contrary.

Digital Media:
The Foundation prefers to lend its support in the early stages of digital media project development, where the emphasis is on planning, research, the contributions of humanities scholars, and creation of the project’s content, rather than on technical production or website management. Preference will also be given to projects that employ more than one format: for example, the development of an on-line exhibit that is also produced in traditional form; or research for a CD-ROM publication that also results in a printed book. Applications for digital media projects should follow the guidelines and instructions that apply to all VFH grants. In addition, these proposals should include:
-Assurance that the digital project will conform to accepted international standards
-Websites should be accessible via one or more commonly used Web browser(s).
-When previously published works are converted to electronic form, the use of SGML is strongly encouraged
-An outline or summary of the content, how it will be created and by whom, emphasizing both the involvement of humanities scholars and the technical expertise of the project personnel
-A description of the website’s interactive features—with emphasis on the opportunities for users to ask questions, comment, or engage in dialogue
-A description of how the website will be maintained and by whom (a “Webmaster” or site administrator must be named and his/her qualifications and duties clearly described)
-An indication of how long the website is to be maintained (at least one year in most cases), including a timetable for making changes and updating the site, if necessary. Humanities scholars should have a clearly defined role in this process.
- A discussion of links to the main website -Primary links (those established within the VFH- funded site) may only be made to other sites sponsored and maintained by non-profit organizations -Linked sites must be educational in nature and must not promote a particular doctrine or viewpoint
-A link to the VFH website must be provided and the VFH logo prominently displayed
-Sites that rely entirely upon links and those that do not contain humanities content of their own are not eligible for VFH support
-A promotion plan that includes both digital and non-digital media. While the VFH recognizes the importance of digital media and their ability to reach well beyond the limits of more traditional programs, these media are still not universally accessible. Successful proposals for digital media projects will demonstrate that these media are the best means of reaching the desired audience, and that they are being used in concert with other program formats wherever possible.

Oral History Projects:
Applications for oral history projects should follow the guidelines and instructions that apply to all VFH grants. In addition, these proposals should include:
-Evidence that key members of the project team have both training and experience in conducting oral history projects
-Identification of the interviewers or a clear description of how they will be chosen
-A detailed discussion of the interviewers’ qualifications, how they will be trained and by whom, and how and by whom their work will be guided during the interview process
-A list of interview questions or a well-defined set of themes to be explored in the interviews
-A discussion of how the oral histories will be used: - Will they be transcribed, or edited? By whom? - Will they be placed in a permanent archive? - Where? - How will they be recorded (analog or digital audio, mini-disc, video)? - Will they become part of an exhibit, website, or publication?
-A description of the types of recording equipment to be used
-A discussion of how the recorded materials will be preserved and catalogued for future use
-Clear evidence of support from the community, communities, or individual(s) being documented
-A carefully developed research plan in which the scope of the project (residents of a neighborhood, workers in a particular occupation, participants in an historical event or movement, etc.) and its goals are well defined.

VFH Grants may not be used to support the following:
-Advocacy or political action programs that promote a particular solution or point of view
-Creative or performing arts, unless they are used in a supporting role to enhance discussion of issues
-Research or writing unless these are integral to programs having a direct public audience
-Projects whose primary audience is children or youth
-Subvention of publications
-Courses for credit, except those designed especially for teachers
-Acquisition of equipment
-Building construction, restoration, or preservation
-Refreshments or entertainment
-Meals, other than necessary travel expenses for program personnel
-International travel
-Indirect costs
-Projects whose primary audience is children or youth.
-Expenses incurred or paid out before a VFH grant award is made

Pre-Application Information:

Open Grants:
October 15 [Drafts by Oct. 5; decisions in early December]
April 15 [Drafts by April 5; decisions in early June]

Applicants will normally be notified of funding decisions within ten (10) days following any action taken by the Board. Online applications must be submitted by the above deadline. Paper copies must be postmarked no later than 48 hours after the deadline. All applicants are urged to contact the staff prior to submission of their proposals. Draft proposals are encouraged. VFH recommends that drafts be submitted at least four weeks prior to the deadline to allow time for a thorough staff review.

Discretionary Grants:
Applicants should contact VFH staff in advance before submitting a Discretionary Grant proposal. Applications are accepted online at any time during the year. Funding decisions are normally made within four weeks following receipt of the proposal.

The Grants Program at VFH uses an online application process for both Open and Discretionary Grants but requests a single paper copy of the application bearing original signatures, submitted via a traditional mailing service. (Print your completed application using the “Application Packet” feature at the top of the application screen. See FAQs link below for detailed instructions.)

All VFH grants must be matched with at least an equal amount of Cost Share, which can be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions from non-federal sources. Sources and amounts of anticipated Cost Share should be indicated at the time of the proposal.

Note: The participation of all speakers, advisors, consultants and other project personnel should be confirmed by the time the proposal is submitted.

What VFH Funds:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

Mail a paper copy of the application to:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
145 Ednam Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia

For further information and assistance, contact:

David Bearinger, Director of Grants and Public Programs
Phone: 434-924-3296

VHF Staff

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Virginia