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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:

10/15/19 5:00 PM Open Grants deadline; Discretionary Grant applications are accepted at any time.


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Grants ranging from $3,000 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. Funding is intended for projects that increase public awareness 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.

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 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.

The following types of projects and entities may be supported:
- Film and Video
- Teachers’ Institutes and Seminars
- Digital Media
- Oral History

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 125447

Estimated Size of Grant:

Open Grants: There is no limit on the amount that can be requested, but applicants are advised that most of the grants in this category fall within the $3-10,000 range, and that grants over $10,000 are rare.
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.

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]

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.

Applicants will normally be notified of funding decisions within ten (10) days following any action taken by the Board. Inquiries about the status of proposals during the review period are strongly discouraged.

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.

How to apply:

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