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Major Grants

Grants to Iowa Nonprofits, IHEs, Agencies, Tribes,
and Groups for Public Humanities Programs

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Humanities Iowa (HI)

Deadline Date:

10/01/18 Midnight Electronic Submission; or Postmarked by Date


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Grants ranging from $3,001 to $10,000 to Iowa nonprofit organizations, IHEs, government agencies, tribal governments, and groups for humanities programming for out-of-school adult public audiences. Applicants who wish to receive a proposal draft review must submit a draft at least several weeks prior to the deadline.

Particular interest is given to projects that foster meaningful community dialogue, are participatory and engaging, attract diverse audiences, and invite discovery of the humanities in interesting and exciting ways.

As branches of learning, the humanities include history, literature, languages, philosophy, ethics, law and comparative religion. The history, theory and criticism of the arts are also considered humanities topics. Social sciences that employ qualitative approaches, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, political science, international relations, and interdisciplinary areas such as folklore, women’s studies and American studies, are also fields in the humanities.

Humanities Iowa welcomes applications on themes of ethnicity, diversity and identity. HI believes that the humanities offer the means to bring people together over their various divides and a promise of assistance in the search of the common good.

Collaborative projects involving multiple community organizations that serve a broad constituency are given preference.

A key component of a Humanities Iowa grant is the active participation of humanities scholars who encourage dialogue, critical thinking, and analysis in a public setting. Projects that involve scholars in a public capacity include activities such as lectures, readings and discussion, films and discussion, public conferences and symposia, exhibitions, or theater or concert program notes and discussions.

A Humanities Iowa grant also may be used to retain the services of a humanities scholar for a short period of time to improve the quality of an organization’s humanities offerings. Consultation projects include humanists-in-residence working with communities, teachers and students. They also include developing exhibitions, creating educational programs and interpreting collections. Humanities scholars should be included in the planning of the proposal as well as the execution of funded projects.

Special Guidelines for Media Projects:

Humanities Iowa recognizes that media projects can serve as a powerful tool for fulfilling HI’s mission to foster greater public awareness of and appreciation for the value of the humanities. Humanities Iowa will consider applications for media projects such as a radio or television program or series, audiotape or CD sound recording, videotape, motion picture film, DVD, photography or any combination of these media. Additional considerations apply.

Special Guidelines for Teacher Seminars:

Humanities Iowa will consider proposals from colleges, universities, area education agencies and school systems for planning and conducting seminars in the humanities for elementary, secondary and post-secondary teachers. Additional considerations apply.

Typical Supported Formats:

-Literary reading/discussion or lecture/discussion programs led by at least one scholar.
-Discussion/interpretation programs focused on the showing of films, performances, videotapes/DVDs, and exhibits.
-Video documentaries–all phases, but generally not the post-production phase unless an earlier phase was supported by an HI grant.
-Radio programs that reach large audiences.
-Scholar-led walking tours and accompanying interpretive brochures.
-Seminars, symposia, and workshops led by a scholar.
-Museum exhibitions–research, design, and/or implementation with an emphasis on interpretive materials and public programs.
-Oral history projects that involve a community and result in the production and distribution of materials (publications, tapes, videos, exhibits) to the general public.
-Living history programs that reflect scholarly contributions and are presented or organized by a humanities scholar.
-Arts programs that place works in their historical, political or social context.
-Web design projects with scholarly input that bring humanities content to the public.

Examples of Eligible but Non-Prioritized Projects:

-Organization of archival materials for publication and distribution.
-Computerization/digitization of inventories, catalogs or archival materials.
-Projects from organizations with a mission of entertainment or recreation.
-Programs directed to a limited and/or specialized audience, such as annual retreats and professional development training.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180678

Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants may request any amount from $3,001 to $10,000.

Term of Contract:

Spring projects (May 1 deadline) should begin after July 1.

Fall projects (October 1 deadline) should begin after December 1.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are awarded to not-for-profit organizations that serve the Iowan public. Eligible organizations may include:

-Incorporated nonprofit groups
-Institutions of higher education
-Units of federal, state and local governments
-Indian tribal governments
-Groups of persons that form an association to carry out a project

An organization does not have to be incorporated as a nonprofit or have tax-exempt status to be eligible for Humanities Iowa grants, but for-profit organizations and activities are ineligible.

Defining a Humanities Scholar:

A humanities scholar has particular training or experience qualifying him or her as a professional in one or more of the disciplines of the humanities. One qualification is an advanced degree (M.A. or Ph.D.) in a humanities field of study. However, individuals without an advanced degree may qualify as humanities scholars because of their methods of research, inquiry and teaching. Humanities Iowa recognizes that scholarship and learning occur outside of traditional academic pursuits. Humanities Iowa also values and respects training and preparation found in diverse cultural traditions.

What These Grants Do Not Fund:

-Indirect costs. Grant funds may be applied only to direct costs of the project. Overhead or facilities and administrative costs may be included in the project only as part of cost-sharing, using the applicant’s normal institutional rate.
-Commercial enterprises. The applicant organization must be a not-for-profit organization, although tax-exempt status is not required.
-Salaries and fringe benefits. HI cannot support salaries or fringe benefits for permanent or temporary employees. Organization staff may be paid honoraria for project work under certain circumstances (see FAQ for more information).
-Individual or personal research, unless the research is integral to a proposed project’s public program.
-The writing or publication of books. However, a publication generated as the result of a public program is allowable.
-Curriculum design or review.
-Academic courses, scholarships, fellowships.
-International travel. Travel expenses are not allowable if incurred outside of the U.S., its territories and possessions, or Canada.
-Recreation and food. Costs related to amusement, social activities, and entertainment will not be funded.
-Capital projects (“bricks and mortar”). HI does not support the purchase or restoration of capital equipment, land, buildings, museum or library acquisitions, or the like.
-Performances in the creative and performing arts, unless they contribute to or provide humanities perspectives. Living history re-enactments, for example, are eligible (see FAQ for other examples).
-Political activities. HI cannot consider funding any project advocating, lobbying for, or funding any particular political or social party, ideology, or action.
-Fundraising activities. HI cannot fund telephone solicitation, fundraising events, or professional fundraiser fees.
-Programs not open to the public. Reasonable admission may be charged to help cover direct project costs. University and college applicants must clearly demonstrate an attempt to reach the general public through content, format and promotional plans
-Programs primarily for children or student audiences. Intergenerational programs (for students and parents, for example), may be considered for funding, however.
-Projects by applicant organizations with active Humanities Iowa grants. This includes grants with complete project activities but incomplete/unsubmitted final fiscal and evaluative reports.
-Pre-award expenses. HI does not support project costs incurred before the grant is awarded.

Pre-Application Information:

All grants have a matching requirement. The applicant organization must contribute or generate support for the project that at least equals the grant request. This support could be in the form of cash contributions or in-kind support from third parties, such as volunteer time or donated space for programs.

Applicants seeking grants for Media Projects should consult with HI staff during the application process.

HI will work with you to strengthen the application and answer questions. If you would like to submit a draft proposal for critique, you may do so several weeks before the deadline and staff will help you refine the document before you submit a final version.

Major Grant Deadlines:

-Spring major grant applications have a deadline of May 1*. Grants are awarded in mid-June. Projects should begin after July 1.
-Fall major grant applications have a deadline of October 1*. Grants are awarded in mid-November. Projects should begin after December 1.
*If this date falls on Saturday or Sunday, the deadline will be extended to the following Monday.

Electronically submitted applications should be submitted no later than midnight of the deadline. Mailed submissions should be postmarked no later than the date of the deadline.

How to Find a Scholar for Your Project:

Contact your local college or university, library or museum. You can also contact the HI office for help in finding a scholar for your topic. Another resource is the HI Speakers Bureau roster, posted on the HI website. Members of the HI board of directors might also be able to help identify a scholar for your project.

An independent evaluator is a requirement of an HI major grant, and a fee of $200 plus auto travel expenses can be paid out of the grant funds. Ideally, the evaluator will be familiar with and traveling within the community in which the HI-funded event is to be held.

Grant Overview:

Apply for a Grant:


Application Instructions:

Contact Information:

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

Apply Online:

Heather Plucar, Grant and Finance Director
(319) 335-4150

Humanities Iowa
Attn: Grants Director
100 LIB RM 4039
Iowa City IA 52242-1420

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Iowa