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Media Projects: Development Grants

Grants to USA Nonprofits and Agencies to
Develop Humanities TV, Film, and Radio Programs

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Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Division of Public Programs

Deadline Date:

01/10/18 Receipt (5:00 PM ET Recommended Submission)


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Grants ranging from $40,000 to $75,000 to USA nonprofit organizations and government agencies for the development of television, radio, and film projects involving the humanities. Applicants are advised to complete or verify the required registrations by December 13 and December 27.

The Media Projects program supports film, television, and radio projects that engage public audiences with humanities ideas in creative and appealing ways. All projects must be grounded in humanities scholarship in disciplines such as history, art history, film studies, literature, drama, religious studies, philosophy, or anthropology. (You can find a more detailed description of the humanities here.) Projects must also demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical (rather than celebratory). The approach to the subject matter must go beyond the mere presentation of factual information to explore its larger significance and stimulate critical thinking. NEH is a national funding agency, so the projects that we support must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad general audience.

Film and television projects may be single programs or a series addressing significant figures, events, or ideas. Programs must be intended for national distribution, via traditional carriage or online distribution. The Division of Public Programs welcomes projects that range in length from short-form to broadcast-length video.

The Division of Public Programs also encourages film and television projects that examine international themes and subjects in the humanities, in order to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world beyond the United States. These projects should demonstrate international collaboration by enlisting scholars based both in the United States and abroad, and/or by working with an international media team. The collaborations should bring broad cross-cultural perspectives to the proposed topics and should be intended primarily for U.S. public audiences.

Radio projects, including podcasts, may involve single programs, limited series, or segments within an ongoing program. They may also develop new humanities content to augment existing radio programming or add greater historical background or humanities analysis to the subjects of existing programs. They may be intended for regional or national distribution.

NEH encourages projects that engage public audiences through multiple formats in the exploration of humanities ideas. Proposed projects might include complementary components to a film, television, or radio project. These components should deepen the audience’s understanding of the subject in a supplementary manner: for example, book/film discussion programs, supplementary educational websites, or museum exhibitions.

To be competitive, applicants must have clear central ideas and a solid command of the major humanities scholarship on their subject, and they must have consulted with a team of scholarly advisers to work out the intellectual issues that the program will explore. The scholars must represent major fields relevant to the subject matter, have a strong record of research and scholarship in the humanities, and offer diverse perspectives and approaches. As needed, the project team may also include participants with expertise appropriate to the project’s formats or technical requirements.

If you seek to develop or produce a digital project that is independent of a film, television, or radio project, you should apply to the Digital Projects for the Public grant program. Please contact a Division of Public Programs program officer if you have questions about which grant program best fits your project.

All projects applying to the Media Projects program should
-Build on sound humanities scholarship;
-Deepen public understanding of significant humanities questions;
-Approach a subject analytically, presenting a variety of perspectives;
-Involve humanities scholars in all phases of development and production;
-Involve appropriate media professionals; and
-Employ appealing and accessible program formats that will actively engage the general public in learning.

Grant Categories:

Development grants enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Grants should result in a script (for a film or television project) or a detailed treatment (for a radio or podcast project) and may also yield a plan for outreach and public engagement.

To be ready to apply for a development grant, you must already have settled on a subject, an approach, and a project team. In particular, you should have:

1. Selected your humanities subject and assessed the major scholarship related to it;
2. Reached out to scholars and experts who work in the relevant subject area(s);
3. Consulted with the humanities team (that is, the scholars and experts who work in the relevant subject area) to clarify the interpretive ideas that the project will consider;
4. Formed a media team to see the project through its development period;
5. Considered how your content will appeal to public audiences and will convey what they should learn from the project;
6. Chosen the project’s format(s); and
7. Identified the resources (such as archival materials and potential interviewees).

If you are ready to produce your program, you should not apply for a development grant. Instead you should apply for a production grant.

Production grants support the production and distribution of films, television programs, and radio programs or podcasts that promise to engage a broad public audience. See the application guidelines for Production Grants.

Media Projects: Development Grants may be used for
-Continued meetings with scholars;
-Research and preliminary interviews (including scholarly research and development of humanities themes);
-Preparation of program treatments and/or scripts;
-Production of a work-in-progress or trailer; and
-Creation of partnerships for outreach activities and public engagement.

Standing Together:

NEH invites projects related to its Standing Together initiative, which encourages projects related to war and military service.

Humanities and science and technology:

The humanities offer significant insights into scientific discovery, scientific thinking, and the historical, cultural, and ethical implications of various technologies. The Division of Public Programs encourages projects that examine connections between the humanities and science and technology. Projects might, for example, provide the historical and social contexts for scientific developments. They might illuminate how science is produced and scientific information is consumed, analyze how technological innovation helps reshape our understanding of our place in the world, or discuss the ethical and political implications of scientific and technological developments. Proposals must demonstrate sound humanities and science scholarship. Projects must involve collaboration between the project team and advisers from both the humanities and the sciences.

In addition, NEH especially encourages projects that include Native American organizations and communities as lead applicants and project partners.

All applications will be given equal consideration in accordance with the program’s evaluation criteria, whether or not they respond to any of these initiatives.

Providing Access to Grant Products:

As a taxpayer-supported federal agency, NEH endeavors to make the products of its awards available to the broadest possible audience. Our goal is for scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to the wide range of NEH award products. All other considerations being equal, NEH gives preference to those projects that provide free access to the public. For the Media Projects program, such products may include film, radio and television programs, and complementary digital media components.

NEH grantees must follow the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of handicap in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178021

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards for development typically range from $40,000 to $75,000, depending on the complexity of the project.

Term of Contract:

Awards are usually made for a period of six to twelve months.

Projects may begin August 2018.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Any U.S. nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is eligible, as are state and local governmental agencies and federally recognized Native American tribal governments. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Independent producers who wish to apply for NEH funding must seek an eligible organization to sponsor the project and submit the application to NEH. Under this arrangement the sponsoring organization is considered the grantee of record and assumes all attendant responsibilities of a grantee organization.

NEH generally does not award grants to other federal entities or to applicants whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities. This does not preclude applicants from using grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.

Applicants are not required to obtain a development grant before applying for a production grant. Applicants may not, however, submit multiple applications for the same project at the same deadline. If an application for a project is already under review, another application for the same project cannot be accepted by this or any other NEH grant opportunity.

Media Projects: Development Grants may not be used for
-Primarily digital projects that are independent of a film, television, or radio program;
-Dramatic adaptations of literary works;
-Projects that will satisfy requirements for educational degrees or formal professional training;
-Projects intended primarily for students in a formal learning environment (though projects may include components that can be used in classrooms);
-General operations, renovation, restoration, rehabilitation, or construction of station or production facilities;
-Preservation or cataloging of materials and collections;
-Promotion of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view;
-Advocacy for a particular program of social or political action;
-Support of specific public policies or legislation; or
-Projects that fall outside of the humanities (including the creation or performance of art; creative writing, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and empirically based social science research or policy studies).

NEH funds may not be used to support obscene, libelous, indecent, or defamatory content (including hate speech, personal attacks, or material constituting harassment).

Pre-Application Information:

Successful applicants will be awarded a grant in outright funds, matching funds, or a combination of the two, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of funds.

All applications to this program must be submitted via NEH strongly recommends that you complete or verify your registration at least two weeks before the application deadline, since it takes time to process your registration.

The applicant organization must maintain current information in its Entity record in the System for Award Management (SAM). NEH strongly recommends that applicants update (or, if necessary, create) their SAM Entity record at least four weeks before the application deadline.

The Division of Public Programs encourages applicants to work with program officers from the outset of the application process. You can submit drafts or contact staff with questions. Drafts, which are optional, must be submitted at least six weeks before the deadline, so that staff will have adequate time to respond.

The Division of Public Programs accepts applications for the two Media Projects programs (Development and Production) at two deadlines a year: in January and August.

Applications must be received by on or before January 10, 2018, for projects beginning in August 2018.

NEH strongly suggests that you submit your application no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Time on the day of the deadline. Doing so will leave you time to contact the help desk for support, should you encounter a technical problem of some kind.


-Before the January 10, 2018 deadline: Contact Division of Public Programs program officers with questions and for advice (optional)

-November 29, 2017: Submit draft application by this date (optional)

-December 13, 2017: Create or verify your institution’s Entity record at the System for Award Management by this date

-December 27, 2017: Register your institution (or verify its registration) with by this date

-January 10, 2018: Submit application through by this date

-March-April 2018: peer review panels take place

-July 2018: meeting of the National Council on the Humanities, followed by funding decisions

-August 2018: applicants are notified of the funding decisions

-August 2018: institutional grants administrators and project directors of successful applications receive award documents by e-mail

-August 2018: successful applicants may begin work on their projects

Contact Information:

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

Division of Public Programs
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506


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