Foundation / Corporation
Maine Humanities Council (MHC)
Grants of up to $1,000 to Maine nonprofit organizations, government agencies, churches, schools, and IHEs for small-scale public humanities projects. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program staff prior to applying. Support is available for projects such as exhibits, reading and discussion programs, lecture and film series, symposia, and cultural celebrations.
The humanities explore the human experience by encouraging reflection on its nature and value through literature, history, philosophy, and culture. The humanities also encompass time-tested methods of inquiry—discussion and dialogue, historical and critical analysis and interpretation, and scholarly investigation.
Humanities projects funded by MHC bring historical, cultural, or ethical perspectives to bear on topics and issues of interest to Maine communities. These may take many different forms, but they often share the following characteristics. They:
-Engage participants in thinking critically about fundamental questions of value, purpose, and meaning.
-Promote better understanding of ourselves and others, past and present.
-Are conducted in a spirit of open and informed inquiry, providing multiple viewpoints where applicable.
-Involve partnerships between community organizations, cultural institutions, and scholars in the humanities.
Successful applications meet the following criteria:
Have an interpretive focus:
Draw topics and themes directly from one or more disciplines of the humanities and create a way for your audience to put the topic into context. For example: a performance of multicultural music is an arts project. It becomes a humanities project if something is done to help the audience understand the history or the cultural significance of the music. This could be accomplished through narration between program items or a pre-concert lecture by a humanities scholar. The goal is to give the audience a chance to understand the art and its context.
Involve a humanities consultant/scholar:
A scholar or subject matter expert can help to frame and conceptualize a project. Indication of expertise can include a college-level teaching position; an advanced degree; a record of scholarship, publishing, speaking, or professional experience; or an acknowledged reputation for special knowledge.
Include a public program, or planning for a public program:
Public programs are the heart of what MHC does, and outreach to the public needs to be a central part of your project. This outreach can engage either the general public or specifically targeted audiences, such as professional, ethnic, or community groups. Preference is for programs to be free. Describe plans to use the materials or findings generated by the project by partnering with a library, historical society, or other resource that can distribute the results of your project after it ends.
Provide balanced viewpoints:
One of the hallmarks of the humanities is the ethic of nonjudgmental discussion. All projects must evidence a spirit of inquiry, a balance between critical and celebratory perspectives, and provide a range of viewpoints and informed opinions, consistent with MHC’s educational, non-partisan mission. This is especially true when projects treat highly charged issues.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but MHC frequently sees project formats such as:
-Conferences, lectures, and discussions
-Technical assistance – training in use of video, oral histories, fee for a professional such as a photographer
-Feature-length films (pre and post-production only)
-Cultural tourism attractions
-Civic Reflection programs
-Video/online visual media productions
-Projects that link schools and their communities
-Theatrical performances that include analysis or interpretation using humanities disciplines
GrantWatch ID#: 179067
Up to $1,000
Project must begin no sooner than 8 weeks after the deadline.
While MHC does on occasion make awards to the same organization in consecutive years for exceptional projects, it do not make this a regular practice.
All applicants must:
-Have an office or address in Maine, or have at least one member of the project who possesses a Maine address;
-Be a 501(c)(3) organization, a government organization (such as a federally recognized Indian tribal government or organization or state/local/city government), a church, or an education organization (school or school district, public or private institution of higher education).
-Not have received another MHC grant in this current year (with one exception: organizations may be awarded both an MHC and an Arts & Humanities grant in the same year). If you have questions around timing and eligibility, please call to discuss.
-Not currently have an overdue final report for a previous MHC grant. Applications will only be considered when recipients have submitted a complete on-time final report on the previous grant.
If your organization is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you will need a fiscal sponsor.
-Art performances or projects, unless their primary role is to foster analysis or interpretation using humanities disciplines. The Arts and Humanities Grant Program, offered in partnership with the Maine Arts Commission, can accommodate greater emphasis on the arts, but must still include a robust humanities component.
-Publications, unless integral to public programs.
-Grants to individuals, or to pay students for projects that are being done for academic credit.
-Grants primarily for group or individual travel.
-Projects designed as fundraising ventures (MHC-funded projects need not be free, but participation costs should be reasonable for the type of program being presented).
-Projects that engage in advocacy or discriminate against persons or groups.
-Capital expenditures, construction, or restoration costs.
-Equipment valued in excess of $100 (except in extraordinary circumstances).
-Normal organizational operating costs, indirect or overhead expenses unrelated to the project.
-Projects that have NO connection to Maine.
The grant award must be matched by either cash or in-kind support, or a combination of both, which may come from a third-party or directly from the applicant. In other words, 50% of the total project costs must come from sources other than an MHC award. In-kind contributions may include time and materials, office space and equipment, travel, donated services, and other non-cash donations.
It is suggested, but not required, that you call or email Anne Schlitt or Lizz Sinclair to discuss your project idea. Staff are happy to provide advice and suggestions that may strengthen your application.
It is not required that you speak with staff before submitting an application, but it is strongly recommended. Past applicants have found it very useful to check in with about their idea and get advice. Staff can recommend humanities scholars, for example, or help you to fine-tune your project to better fit the guidelines.
Deadlines for 2017-18:
-October 16, 2017
-February 16, 2018
-May 18, 2018
-August 17, 2018
Grant application deadlines are firm; online applications will not be accepted after midnight on the deadline date.
Notifications will be issued within 6 weeks of submission.
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
Anne Schlitt, Assistant Director
Lizz Sinclair, Director of Programs
Anne and Lizz may be contacted during office hours for grant queries (207-773-5051):
-Mondays: 12 – 5
-Thursdays: 12 – 5
-Fridays: 9 – 5
Maine Humanities Council
674 Brighton Avenue
Portland, Maine 04102