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Local History Grants - Research Inventory Grant (RIG)

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits and Agencies
for Inventory and Catalog Historical Collections

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Mass Humanities

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

07/09/18 Midnight


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Grants of up to $2,000 to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations and government agencies to evaluate their historical collections to better support research activities. Initial inquiries are due April 9. This program supports small organizations in identifying and organizing their collections’ contents by creating inventories, catalogs, and finding aids with the goal of attracting both researchers and visitors.

Before initiating research projects and public programs, small historical societies, along with other organizations, must examine and assess their collections. The Research Inventory Grant (RIG) program allows such organizations to discover the potential—already held in their collections—to attract researchers, to inspire programming projects, and to draw additional public visitors. RIGs fund inventories of specific collections that will support future research and/or increase public access to a collection.

What May Be Inventoried:
-A specific collection—or portion of a collection—of archival records and/or artifacts.
-The collection must be owned by the applicant organization or by another cooperating public institution. Privately owned collections are not eligible for RIG projects.
-The collection must be relevant to the applicant organization’s mission and organized around a specific topic/theme/event. General inventories of large collections will not be considered.

What Will Be Produced:
-The final product of a RIG project is a searchable inventory, catalog, or finding aid.
-The final product must be made widely available to the public and should support future research and/or increase public access to the collection.

The Inventory Taker for a RIG project is a staff member, volunteer, or outside consultant.

Grant Application Review Criteria:

Grants are awarded in open competition on the basis of the following criteria:

Humanities Content:
Are the humanities central to the project? Does the proposal clearly articulate the issues, questions, or themes to be addressed? Does the topic have current relevance, given the audience and location? Does the project allow for diverse points of view or responses?

Are the humanities personnel right for this project, and are they well qualified for the roles they will play? Have they been involved in planning the project?

Do the applicants have a clear sense of the audience they are trying to engage in the project? Are the topic, format, venue, and schedule appropriate for the intended audience?

Does the proposal include a clearly outlined and effective plan and adequate budget for attracting the intended audience? Do the outreach methods suit the intended audience? Is the plan realistic?

Plan of Work:
Are the project's objectives clearly stated and achievable? Is the format workable and appropriate? Is the scheduling realistic? Are there enough people to pull it off, and is the ratio of volunteer to professional labor reasonable?

Do the project costs seem reasonable and justified? If additional funds are needed to complete it, is the plan for securing them feasible? Is the budget realistic in terms of the scale of the project and the anticipated results?

Organization Capacity:
Does the sponsoring organization appear to have the capacity to implement the project successfully? Would this project take place without this grant? If a collaboration is involved, have both/all organizations made a commitment to the project?

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180783

Estimated Size of Grant:

RIGs carry a maximum of $2,000.

Term of Contract:

RIG projects are usually completed within six months.

The earliest program start date is: Early December 2017 (October Round); Mid-June 2018 (April Round); or Late August 2018 (July Round).

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All nonprofit and government organizations that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply, and priority is given to small historical organizations.

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 benefitting 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

All projects related to Native Americans must, whenever possible and reasonable, engage the agreement, advice, and cooperation of members of the Native community and follow NEH’s Code of Ethics for Projects Related to Native Americans, which is available online:

Pre-Application Information:

All recipient organizations must demonstrate a cost-share (cash and/or in-kind) that equals or exceeds the total funds requested. There is no cash match requirement.

Mass Humanities awards RIGs three times each year.

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

Drafts are optional for RIG applications. If you would like to submit a draft, communicate directly with your Program Officer. Once the draft portion is complete, notify your Program Officer, who will review your draft application and provide you with feedback.

Applications are due by midnight on the deadline date. In fairness to all applicants, all deadlines for grant applications are firm.

Notification of a RIG award is approximately three weeks after submission.

October Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: October 2, 2017
-Application Deadline: October 16, 2017
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Program Start Date: Early December 2017

April Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: April 9, 2018
-Application Deadline: April 23, 2018
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Program Start Date: Mid-June 2018

July Round:
-Inquiry Form (LOI) Deadline: June 25, 2018
-Application Deadline: July 9, 2018
-Approximate Notification: within 3 weeks
-Earliest Program Start Date: Late August 2018

Application Instructions:

Deadline Schedule:

Contact Information:

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

The online grant application system is available here:

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

P: (413) 584-8440
F: (413) 584-8454

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts