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Project Grant

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits and
Agencies for Public Humanities Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

05/07/18 Midnight


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Grants of up to $7,500 and grants of up to $15,000 to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations and government agencies for humanities projects serving public audiences. LOIs are due December 18. Consideration will be given to projects in a broad range of formats. Qualifying projects are firmly grounded in the humanities and involve at least one humanities scholar.

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.

Mass Humanities encourages collaborations between organizations, interdisciplinary approaches, and capacity building in small organizations. 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 Mass Humanities’ 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 our 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.

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
-Audio projects
-Film pre‐production and distribution projects
-Interactive websites that function as public humanities programs
-Content‐based professional development workshops for teachers

Standard project formats include but are not limited to:
-Humanities‐Based Civic Conversations
-Public Lectures, Conferences, and Panel Discussions
-Discussion Events
-Walking Tours
-Audio Projects
-Interactive Websites that Function as Public Humanities Programs
-Content‐Based Professional Development Workshops for Teachers

Project formats with additional and/or specific requirements include:

Museum Exhibitions and Related Programming:
Mass Humanities offers Project Grants to support the planning, implementation, and/or promotion of humanities‐based exhibitions. Applicants may plan back‐to‐back proposal submissions for separate phases (planning, implementation, or promotion) of an exhibition project, and if so, each proposal/phase must have distinct goals and products. Project Grants are also made to support humanities‐based programming around other kinds of exhibitions.

Programming to Complement Theatrical and Artistic Productions:
Mass Humanities generally does not fund 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. However, Project Grants may support humanities‐based programming, often in the form of pre‐ and post‐ performance discussions, to accompany such productions.

Oral History Projects:
An oral history project may be eligible for a Project Grant if a central humanities theme/issue informs the gathering and presenting of information, and if the process of conducting and recording interviews is a major goal of the project. Oral history projects carry a number of additional requirements, including the involvement of oral history specialists.

Film Pre‐Production and Distribution Projects:
Mass Humanities makes a limited number of grants each year to support films that explore humanities themes. Project Grants support the involvement of humanities scholars in film projects, the viability of humanities‐based documentaries, and the distribution and use of such films. As a result, Mass Humanities supports discrete parts of larger film projects, most of which are not considered film “production.”

Film Projects include but are not limited to:
-Pre‐production development that results in initial footage‐ and research‐based products (a trailer, a web page, or other format) to help with fundraising.
-Development of crowdsourcing and/or audience engagement practices for the project.
-Distribution projects that result in the production of promotional and instructional materials.

Film Projects must involve at least one humanities scholar and must result in substantial original material, such as a script development, a trailer or short, or an interactive website.

Original pre‐production and crowdsourcing materials may include but are not limited to: interactive web and social media outreach strategies, using web‐based social tools such as Facebook, YouTube, online film festivals, and other platforms; the production of short films or film excerpts to be made available on a project website or used in discussions; or the development of an interactive or crowdsourcing page of a project website where an outreach plan is already present. Original distribution materials may include but are not limited to: trailers, shorts, interactive websites, subtitles, television broadcasts, public screenings with discussions, festivals, and other products designed for outreach.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179705

Estimated Size of Grant:

Organizations may request a maximum of $7,500.

Organizations proposing projects that meet the Engaging New Audiences and/or the Negotiating the Social Contract incentives may request a maximum of $15,000.

Filmmakers proposing film projects—with a sponsoring nonprofit organization—may request a maximum of $15,000.

Term of Contract:

The earliest funded event date for the February Round grants is late April 2018.

Project Grant projects are generally completed within one year.

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 benefiting 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

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.

Applicants may submit an online inquiry form (LOI) at any time, but a Project Grant LOI is due at least six 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.

Applications are due by midnight on the deadline date.

There will be three rounds for Project Grants each year.

November Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: September 18, 2017
-Draft Deadline: October 10, 2017
-Application Deadline: October 30, 2017
-Approximate Notification: December 11, 2017
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Mid-January 2018

February Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: December 18, 2017
-Draft Deadline: January 16, 2018
-Application Deadline: February 5, 2018
-Approximate Notification: March 19, 2018
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Late April 2018

May Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: March 26, 2018
-Draft Deadline: April 16, 2018
-Application Deadline: May 7, 2018
-Approximate Notification: June 18, 2018
-Earliest Funded Event Date: Late July 2018

What Mass Humanities Does and Does Not Fund:



Applying for a Grant:

Contact Information:

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

Apply Online:

Abbye Meyer
413-584-8440 ext. 102

Melissa Wheaton
413-584-8440 ext. 100

Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities
66 Bridge Street
Northampton, MA 01060

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts