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Common Heritage

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, and IHEs
for Cultural Heritage Preservation and Outreach

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Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Division of Preservation and Access

Deadline Date:

05/31/18 11:59 PM ET Receipt


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Grants of up to $12,000 to USA nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and IHEs to support cultural heritage events for public audiences, as well as the digitization of cultural heritage materials. Applicants must create or verify the required registrations no later than April 19 and May 3.

America’s cultural heritage is preserved not only in libraries, museums, archives, and other community organizations, but also in all of our homes, family histories, and life stories. The Common Heritage program aims to capture this vitally important part of our country’s heritage and preserve it for future generations. Common Heritage will support both the digitization of cultural heritage materials and the organization of outreach through community events that explore and interpret these materials as a window on the community’s history and culture.

The Common Heritage program considers a community to be a city or town (or a part of a city or town) that has been strongly shaped by geographical and historical forces. Members of the public in that community may have diverse family histories and heritage, or they may share a historical, cultural, or linguistic heritage. The program recognizes that members of the public— in partnership with libraries, museums, archives, and historical organizations—have much to contribute to the understanding of our cultural mosaic. Together, such institutions and the public can be effective partners in the appreciation and stewardship of our common heritage.

The program supports events organized by community cultural institutions, which members of the public will be invited to attend. At these events experienced staff will digitize the community historical materials brought in by the public. Project staff will also record descriptive information—provided by community attendees—about the historical materials. Contributors will be given a free digital copy of their items to take home, along with the original materials. With the owner’s permission, digital copies of these materials would be included in the institutions’ collections. Historical photographs, artifacts, documents, family letters, art works, and audiovisual recordings are among the many items eligible for digitization and public commemoration.

Projects must also provide community outreach via public events that would expand understanding of the community’s history or heritage. Public programs could include lectures, panels, reading and discussion groups, special gallery tours, screening and discussion of relevant films, presentations by a historian, special initiatives for families and children, interpretation by curators about items brought in by the public, workshops on preserving heritage materials, or other activities that bring humanities perspectives on heritage materials to community audiences. These activities must be rooted in the analysis of and engagement with humanities questions. The programs may take place before, during, and/or after the day of the digitization event. Applicants must include in their proposals a humanities topic around which the event and the programs would be organized. Topics proposed for the public programs may also be proposed for the digitization event.

The applicant institution must plan, promote, and organize the event and ensure that a wide range of historical materials can be digitized and also contextualized through public programming. Since the help of additional institutions and organizations in the community may be needed to accomplish this work, the applicant must take responsibility for enlisting appropriate organizations or institutions, such as local libraries and museums, to contribute to the project, as needed.

NEH especially welcomes applications from small and medium-sized institutions that have not previously received NEH support. The program also encourages applications from presidentially designated institutions (Hispanic-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities), and from Native American tribes and Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian organizations.

This program is authorized by 20 USC §956 et seq. Awards are subject to 2 CFR Part 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

NEH grantees must follow the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance. For more information consult Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook here.

Applicant institutions should:
-Plan the event with community input (and recruit partner institutions, if desired);
-Secure a venue for the community event;
-Identify the roles of partner institutions (if any); and
-Make preparations to announce and promote the event and its programs.

Applicant and/or partner institutions should:
-Arrange for the purchase or loan of the necessary equipment, such as scanners, digital cameras, and computers, to handle the expected materials;
-Identify experienced staff, who would perform the digitization and obtain information from members of the public about their materials, in order to create metadata for digital files;
-Coordinate community participation and create a plan to enhance the community heritage day with programming that may be scheduled before, during, and/or after the digitization event, and to identify staff, who would plan and present the public programming;
-Select the historical, cultural, or preservation topics to be explored in the public programming; and
-Identify the appropriate humanities scholars or cultural heritage professionals to advise on the public programming.

Standing Together:

NEH invites projects related to its Standing Together initiative, which encourages projects related to war and military service.

All applications will be given equal consideration in accordance with the program’s evaluation criteria, whether or not they respond to the Standing Together initiative.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 181009

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants of up to $12,000 will be awarded.

Term of Contract:

Projects may begin January 1, 2019.

All grants are awarded for a period of eighteen months, although a grantee may complete a project in a shorter period of time.


  • 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 applicants may submit multiple applications for separate and distinct projects under this announcement.

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.

Common Heritage grants may not be used for
-Projects digitizing materials unrelated to family and cultural heritage;
-Appraisal of collections to determine their financial value;
-Genealogy workshops;
-Events not open to the general public or events charging a fee for admission;
-The purchase of equipment for public events, such as projectors and amplification systems;
-Food and beverages at events;
-Digitization of materials held by the applicant institution or other cultural heritage repositories (applicants seeking support for such projects should consult Humanities Collections and Reference Resources);
-Promotion of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view;
-Advocacy of a particular program of social or political action;
-Support of specific public policies or legislation;
-Projects that fall outside of the humanities (including the creation or performance of art; creative writing, autobiographies, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and empirically based social science research or policy studies); and
-Projects that support obscene, libelous, indecent, or defamatory content (including hate speech, personal attacks, or material constituting harassment).

Pre-Application Information:

Cost sharing is not required in this program. If eligible expenses are more than $12,000, an applicant may cover the difference and show this as cost sharing in the project’s budget.

You must register or verify your registration with SAM. Complete at least six weeks before the deadline.

You must verify your institution’s registration or register your institution with Complete at least two weeks before the deadline.

Applications must be received by by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on May 31, 2018.


-Until May 31, 2018: Contact Division of Preservation and Access program officers with questions and for advice (optional)

-April 19, 2018: Register or verify your institution’s SAM registration by this date

-May 3, 2018: Obtain (or verify) your DUNS number by this date

-May 17, 2018: Register your institution (or verify its registration) with by this date

-May 31, 2018: Submit application through by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on this date

-July 2018: Peer review panels take place

-November 2018: Meeting of the National Council on the Humanities, followed by funding decisions

-December 2018: Applicants are notified of the funding decisions

-December 2018: Institutional grants administrators and project directors of successful applications receive award documents by e-mail

-January 2019: Successful applicants may begin work on their projects

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Contact Information:

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

Common Heritage
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506


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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming