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Media Projects: Development Grants

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

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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

Deadline Date:

08/29/18 11:59 PM Receipt


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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 at least two to six weeks before the deadline.

The Media Projects program supports documentary 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. Projects must also demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical. The approach to the subject matter must go beyond the mere presentation of factual information to explore its larger significance and stimulate reflection. 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 encourages film and television projects that promote a deeper understanding of American history and culture and advance civics education. The Division of Public Programs also supports film and television projects that examine international themes and subjects in the humanities.

Radio and podcast projects may involve single programs, limited series, or segments within an ongoing series. They may be intended for regional or national distribution. NEH encourages projects that engage public audiences through multiple formats. Proposed projects might include supplementary components to a film, television, radio, or podcast project: for example, book/film discussion programs, supplementary educational websites, or museum exhibitions.

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.

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.

NEH welcomes applications in the following areas:

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.

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 and encouragements.

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:

Most awards are made for up to $40,000, with a maximum of $75,000 for complex projects that will reach national audiences.

Term of Contract:

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

Projects may begin August 2019.


  • 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:

U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education.

Individuals and foreign and for-profit entities are not eligible to apply.

Eligible organizations are encouraged to partner with independent producers. Under this arrangement the sponsoring organization submits the application. If the application is funded, the eligible organization is considered the recipient of record and assumes all programmatic, financial, and legal responsibilities of the award.

Eligible applicant institutions may submit multiple applications for separate and distinct projects under this announcement. Project directors may also submit applications for two different projects at the same time. If so, project directors should explain in the applications how they would allocate their time if they received more than one award.

Overlapping project costs between two or more applications for federal funding and/or approved federal award budgets is not permitted.

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;
-Lobbying; 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.

In order to apply through, the applicant organization must first have or obtain a valid Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, and register (or have an active registration) in the System for Award Management (SAM). Note: If you are registering in for the first time, you must provide an original, signed notarized letter stating that you are the authorized Entity Administrator for the entity associated with the DUNS number before your registration will be activated. Read the SAM update and FAQs to learn more about this process change. The initial SAM registration can take up to six weeks.

Applicant organizations with a valid DUNS number and an active SAM registration must then register with Visit at for complete registration information. The initial registration process can take up to two weeks.

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. A response cannot be guaranteed if drafts arrive after this date.

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 and validated by by 11:59 PM Eastern
Time on August 29, 2018, for projects beginning on April 1, 2019. will date- and time-stamp your application after it is fully uploaded


- Before the August 29, 2018 deadline: Contact Division of Public Programs program officers with questions and for advice (optional)
- July 18, 2018: Applicants that have not registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) and should begin the process no later than this date
- July 18, 2018: Submit draft application by this date (optional)
- August 15, 2018: Applicants that have registered in SAM and should verify their registrations by this date
- August 29, 2018: Application must be submitted through and validated by by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on this date
- August 29, 2018: Samples (eight copies) must arrive at NEH on or before this date
- October-November 2018: peer review panels take place
- March 2019: Meeting of the National Council on the Humanities, followed by funding decisions
- April 2019: Applicants are notified of the funding decisions
- April 2019: Institutional grants administrators and project directors of successful applications receive award documents by e-mail from the NEH Office of Grant Management
- April 1, 2019: 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.

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


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