Office of Challenge Grants

For more information about the
Office of Challenge Grants:
(202) 606-8309

Challenge grants strengthen institutional and organizational capacity for work in the humanities.  Institutions and organizations in the United States support the humanities by preserving and providing access to collections, conducting scholarship and research, and developing educational programs for various audiences.  Projects typically involve building and renovating structures such as museums and libraries, nurturing collaborative relationships, and updating the infrastructure that undergirds humanities work in its many forms.  NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants support these efforts, leveraging federal funds to increase private, state, and local support for humanities infrastructure. 

Using a match-and-release structure, NEH awards challenge grants to colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, research institutions, historical societies and historic sites, scholarly associations, state humanities councils, and other nonprofit humanities entities.  Multiple institutions may collaborate on a challenge grant, as long as one serves as the lead applicant. 

Some challenge grants support capital campaigns for constructing or renovating facilities and purchasing equipment and software.  Others provide awards for sharing of collections and investment in restricted, short-term endowments or other investment funds for preserving and conserving humanities collections, documenting imperiled cultural heritage materials, and sustaining digital scholarly infrastructure.  All challenge grants assist institutions in supporting humanities work over the long term, improving infrastructure and capacity locally while contributing to the humanities more broadly.  

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Color photo of an African American smiling in a blue pin-stripe shirt and patterned tie.

Harlem Globetrotter, Business Executive, and ... Humanities Philanthropist

It’s unlikely Mannie Jackson dreamed, while attending racially-segregated schools in 1950s downstate Illinois, that one day he would be involved in an educational endowment designed to encourage humanities exploration and to help students and citizens of all backgrounds become culturally-aware community leaders.

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