Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Discussion Grant

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits and Agencies
to Engage the Public in Humanities Discussions

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

Add to My Calendar 


LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

07/09/18 Midnight


Request a Grant Writer

Grants of up to $3,000 and grants of up to $3,500 to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations and government agencies for humanities discussion projects that engage public audiences. LOIs are due April 9. Qualifying projects center around moderated discussions of humanities topics and benefit Massachusetts residents. All projects must be firmly grounded in the humanities and involve at least one Humanities Scholar.

The Humanities:
Mass Humanities grants support projects that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines, primarily to deepen public understanding of current social, political, and economic issues, thereby enhancing and improving civic life.

Humanities Scholars:
A humanities scholar is usually an individual with an advanced degree (M.A. or Ph.D.) in a humanities discipline who is actively engaged in research, writing, and/or teaching in that field.

Discussion Grant projects are usually formatted as one event or as a series of discussion events. Priority is given to projects that engage audiences with limited contact to humanities programming (Engaging New Audiences for the Humanities) and projects that respond to MassHumanities’ current theme (Negotiating the Social Contract).

Engaging New Audiences for the Humanities (ENA):
To receive priority, an application must include a detailed and realistic plan for engaging new and larger audiences for humanities programs. Special consideration will be given to projects that involve audiences with limited access to the humanities, which include: young and working adults, incarcerated people, teens, and nursing home residents.

Negotiating the Social Contract (NSC):
Our current theme, Negotiating the Social Contract, gives priority to projects that explore how Americans participate in creating and sustaining basic social and economic relationships that shape society, both historically and in the present. Most successful projects ask participants to examine contemporary social-contract negotiations, in the context of a particular issue of interest to a particular community—such as immigration, gun rights/control, or participation in the democratic process.

Through Project Grants, Discussion Grants, and Local History Grants (SIRs and RIGs), the Mass Humanities Grants Program supports public humanities projects that benefit and engage Massachusetts residents.

Mass Humanities Regularly Funds:
-Humanities-based civic conversations
-Public lectures, conferences, and panel discussions
-Discussion events
-Research and inventory projects for local history organizations
-Museum exhibitions and related programming
-Programming to complement theatrical and artistic productions
-Oral history projects
-Walking tours
-Digital and audio humanities projects
-Film pre-production and distribution projects
-Interactive websites that function as public humanities programs
-Content-based professional development workshops for teachers
-Public humanities projects in many other forms

Discussion Grant projects allow for the exchange of thoughts, opinions, and ideas in response to almost any kind of text: films, talks, performances, tours, exhibits, lectures, and more. A Discussion Grant project may be a series of events, such as a film-and-discussion series; it may be a one-time event that includes active reflecting and discussing; or it may be something different, such as the creation of an exhibit or walking tour along with a discussion.

Discussion Grants are also made to nonprofit and government organizations to host popular Mass Humanities programs:

Family Adventures in Reading (FAIR):
FAIR brings children and adults together to enjoy outstanding and thought-provoking picture books. Three FAIR syllabi are available for use by educators, each organized around an overarching topic: character, relationships, or community. FAIR discussions are designed to engage even very young readers with complex ideas: what it means to be an individual in relation to others, how we grow and change, how we understand and encounter those who are different from us, how we define our goals and responsibilities, what we expect from society, and what we want and expect from the future.

Literature & Medicine: Humanities, Health, & Healthcare:
Literature & Medicine series use literature, journalism, and other texts to explore issues central to caring for people, whether they are well, sick, or dying. These projects stimulate discussions on various health issues, such as advanced and chronic illnesses, mental illness, and issues around death and dying. These series take place in a wide spectrum of civic, cultural, and service organizations: community centers, places of worship, faith-based organizations, hospitals, community health centers, libraries, and veterans and military/service organizations.

Reading Frederick Douglass Together and Civil Rights Discussions:
Annual public readings of Frederick Douglass’s famous Fourth of July address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” take place in communities throughout the state. When complemented by moderated discussions, these events are eligible Discussion Grant projects. Such Civil Rights Discussions—centered around Douglass’s speech or another speech or text by a civil rights leader—stimulate informed and open conversation around racial conflict and relations in the United States.

MH funds may be used to pay for reasonable travel (transportation, lodging, and subsistence) expenses for project personnel (usually scholars and other speakers).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 157017

Estimated Size of Grant:

Discussion Grants carry a maximum of $3,000. Projects that meet the ENA and/or the NSC incentives are eligible for a maximum of $3,500.

No more than $1,000 of MH funds may be used for a stipend/honorarium for a single person at a single event. MH rarely approves stipends/honoraria over $500.

MH funds for meals and lodging may not exceed $250/day.

MH funds may not exceed $250 for costs of food for project audiences/participants.

MH funds may not exceed $250 for the purchase of reusable equipment needed for the project.

Term of Contract:

Events may take place as early as December 2017 (October Round), Mid-June 2018 (April Round), or Late August 2018 (July Round).

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All nonprofit and government organizations are eligible to apply.

A nonprofit does not need to be a 501(c)(3), but it must have begun the registration process with the IRS or have a fiscal sponsor. If using a fiscal sponsor, the applicant should list the fiscal sponsor as the “sponsoring organization” in the online application system.

Mass Humanities Rarely Funds:
-Theatrical and artistic productions—unless the performers and production personnel (actors, stage hands, scriptwriters, etc.) are a primary audience benefitting from the project’s humanities content
-Preservation of objects or archival materials—unless directly related to a public program
-Scholarly research or writing—unless directly related to a public program
-Scholarships, fellowships, or travel to professional meetings
-Projects that result in academic credit for participants
-Purchase of supplies/equipment (over $250 for a single project)
-Purchase of food/refreshments (over $250 for a single project)
-International travel
-Honoraria/stipends over $500 for single events

Mass Humanities Does Not Fund:
-Projects by individuals
-Websites, or other materials, used to promote the organization
-Capital improvements or operating expenses
-Construction or restoration
-Indirect costs of institutions
-Profit-making or fundraising projects
-Costs of entertainment
-Professional theatrical productions
-Projects that advocate a single point of view, ideology, or specific program of social action
-Projects for which the direct beneficiaries are primarily college students
-Projects aimed primarily at audiences outside Massachusetts
-Honoraria/stipends over $1,000 for single events

MH funds may not be used for tickets if the revenue from ticket sales goes to the sponsoring organization, but such costs may be included in the cost-share.

Pre-Application Information:

Organizations must demonstrate a cash cost-share that equals or exceeds 10 percent of the MH funds requested, and the total cost-share (cash and in-kind) must equal or exceed the MH funds requested.

The Mass Humanities online grant application process has three parts: an inquiry form (LOI), an optional draft, and a final application.

Applicants may submit an online inquiry form (LOI) at any time, but a Discussion Grant LOI is due at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. If the project is eligible, staff will respond to the LOI with questions and suggestions. Once approved, each LOI/application is assigned to a staff member who works with the applicant as needed to develop the project and complete the application forms.

Drafts are optional for Discussion Grant applications. If you would like to submit a draft, communicate directly with your Program Officer.

Applications are due by midnight on the deadline date. In fairness to all applicants, all deadlines for grant applications are firm.

October Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: October 2, 2017
-Application Deadline: October 16, 2017
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Early December 2017

April Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: April 9, 2018
-Application Deadline: April 23, 2018
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Mid-June 2018

July Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: June 25, 2018
-Application Deadline: July 9, 2018
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Late August 2018

Application Instructions:

FAIR (Family Adventures in Reading):

Literature & Medicine: Humanities, Health, & Healthcare:

Reading Frederick Douglass Together events and other Civil Rights Discussions:

Engaging New Audiences Initiative:

Negotiating the Social Contract Theme:


All projects related to Native Americans must, whenever possible and reasonable, engage the agreement, advice, and cooperation of members of the Native community and follow NEH’s Code of Ethics for Projects Related to Native Americans, which is available online:

Contact Information:

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

The online grant application system is available here:

Abbye Meyer
413-584-8440 ext. 102

Melissa Wheaton
413-584-8440 ext. 100

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts