The mission of this Challenge Grants program is to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by enabling infrastructure development and capacity building.
Awards aim to help institutions secure long-term support for their core activities and expand efforts to preserve and create access
to outstanding humanities materials.
Applications are welcome from colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, research institutions, historical societies and historic sites, scholarly associations, state humanities councils, and other public and nonprofit humanities entities.
Programs that involve collaboration among multiple institutions are eligible as well, but one institution must serve as the lead agent and formal applicant of record.
Through these awards organizations can increase their humanities capacity with funds invested in a restricted, short-term endowment or other investment fund (or spend-down funds) that generate expendable earnings to support and enhance ongoing program activities.
Eligible activities include the documentation of cultural heritage materials that are lost or imperiled; the preservation and conservation of humanities materials; and the sustaining of digital scholarly infrastructure.
Challenge grants may also support the purchase of equipment and software; the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities needed for humanities activities; and collections sharing.
Such expenditures bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly.
Up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance.
Challenge funds (both federal matching funds and required nonfederal gifts) must enhance the humanities in the long term.
Challenge grants should not merely replace funds already being expended, but instead should reflect careful strategic planning to strengthen and enrich an institution’s humanities activities.
Institutions may use challenge funds to meet both ongoing and one-time humanities-related costs, provided that the long-term benefit of the expenditure can be demonstrated.