Funding Digital Projects at Small, Regional, and Minority-Serving Institutions

This resource page is for humanists based at small, regional, and minority-serving institutions (SR&MSIs) who may be interested in seeking funding from NEH for their digital projects. While applicants at these institutions can submit to any grant program, NEH has set aside funds to support some SR&MSIs through several specific grant programs. These programs are highlighted here.

NEH has special programs and incentives for applicants from small and mid-sized humanities nonprofits, from two-year community colleges, and from U.S.-based colleges and universities that have been federally designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

This page lists all NEH programs with special incentives for SR&MSIs, offers tips for applying to NEH programs, and provides examples of how these programs have been used to fund digital humanities projects.

Download a flyer summarizing this information here (pdf).

This resource is based on the National Science Foundation’s: Funding opportunities for minority-serving institutions. It draws on a report by ODH intern Bria Paige: “Tell Them We Are Rising: On HBCUs and the Digital (2010-2021).”

NEH Programs with Special Funding or Incentives

Listed here are all NEH programs that offer special funding streams or incentives for applicants from SR&MSIs. The application requirements, funding priorities, review processes, and funding ratios for these programs are designed with small, regional, or MSI applicants in mind. Review this list to see whether any of these programs might be a good fit for your project, or read on to see examples of how these programs have funded digital initiatives.

Understanding NEH Programs for SR&MSIs

At NEH, every grant program is overseen by one of seven offices and divisions: Research, Education, Public Programs, Challenge Programs, Preservation & Access, and Digital Humanities. Each office and division has its own staff and mechanisms for communication. All divisions fund different kinds of digital projects, and there are more than 20 grant programs that can support digital humanities.

Every grant program has a landing page on the NEH website. (e.g., Humanities Initiatives for Community Colleges.) Each landing page features a “grant snapshot” that includes deadlines, funding amounts, and contact information related to the grant program.

In addition to a program summary, each landing page includes a link to the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), which is a legal document that describes eligibility requirements, budget requirements, and application requirements and instructions, as well as review criteria for the grant program.

Landing pages also typically include a link to frequently asked questions, as well as sample applications and a pre-recorded informational webinar. Note that sample applications typically are a few years old. Since application requirements change every year, they may not perfectly match the current NOFO requirements.

Many NEH grant programs offer the opportunity to submit an optional draft of your application in advance of the deadline. This is not required and will have no impact on your application, but can be useful, especially for first-time applicants. Instructions on how to submit a draft can be found in the NOFO.

Other resources that may be helpful to you on the NEH website include:

Digital Humanities Funding for SR&MSIs

Although there are no MSI grant programs that are specifically directed toward funding the digital humanities, all MSI programs can fund different kinds of digital projects, including digital humanities curricula, pedagogy, digitization, research, and infrastructure. Read on to view examples of how these programs have been used to develop digital humanities curricula and pedagogy; to conduct individual research in the digital humanities; to digitize collections; and to develop infrastructure for digital projects and the digital humanities.

Developing Digital Humanities Curricula and Pedagogy

Humanities Initiatives is a program that provides funding for undergraduate and/or graduate education. It is a flexible program that can be used to develop courses and programs such as majors, minors, and pathways; conduct faculty training; and design public-facing digital teaching resources like archives, maps, and textbooks. Projects must be organized around a core topic or set of themes drawn from areas of study in the humanities.

View all past awards here.

Example: Narrative Mapping Curriculum at NMSU

In 2021 New Mexico State University received an award of $149,890 to support “Critical Approaches to Place: Teaching Narrative Mapping in Southern New Mexico,” a three-year curriculum development and public engagement project organized by collaborators from the geography and English departments.

Example: Digital Humanities Certificate at Howard University

In 2022, Howard University received an award of $149,996 to support a two-year project to create an interdisciplinary studies graduate certificate in digital humanities.

Example: Teaching Resources at Hampton University

In 2021, Hampton University received an award of $117,198 to support the development of teaching and archival resources about dance and campus architectural history and to integrate them into the university curriculum.

Example: Digital Humanities Curriculum at Borough of Manhattan Community College

In 2021, Borough of Manhattan Community College received an award of $150,000 to support a three-year curriculum development project that would create interdisciplinary course modules and curricular materials examining poverty, including both a digital database and student-centered digital humanities project called “Mapping Poverty.”

Example: Individual Research for Course Revision

Individual instructors can also receive funding to conduct research to benefit course re-design through the Awards for Faculty program. Note that this program does not support curriculum development.

For example, in 2021, Teresa Fiore at Montclair State University received $10,000 to support a course revision project resulting in a digital repository of materials to facilitate cultural comparison in Italian language instruction for Spanish speakers and oral testimonies of Italian-Latino/a bicultural identity.

Conducting Research as an Individual Scholar

Awards for Faculty is a program that supports individual research projects. The Awards for Faculty program is similar to NEH’s Fellowships program in that it provides funding for individual scholars to conduct research. However, this program offers more flexibility in order to align with teaching and service expectations at HBCUs, TCUs, and HSIs.

The program allows faculty to work part or full-time on a project and develop a variety of projects, including primary and secondary research leading to peer-reviewed books and articles, as well as research relating to institutional or community goals or interests or the improvement of existing undergraduate courses.

Awards for Faculty at Tribal Colleges and Universities can support additional project types, including the development of a humanities seminar for students and/or the community, as well as graduate course-revision projects. This program especially encourages projects related to Indigenous knowledge that sustain and strengthen tribal languages and/or cultural traditions.

View all past awards here.

This program can support individual digital humanities scholarship designated for peer review, including projects related to the history of technology, social media, archives, and algorithms. It can also support research with a digital component, such as an archive, website, or digital edition.

Example: Digital Editions

In 2022 Patricia Akhimie at Rutgers University-Newark received $60,000 to support research and writing for a new edition of Shakespeare’s Othello, to be published in print and digital editions.

Example: Migrating Scholarship Online

In 2022, Mary J. Henderson at Morgan State University received $30,000 to support research and writing for an article and to facilitate the migration of Sankofa, a journal dedicated to children’s literature by African authors, from a print to an online format.

Example: Open Access Digital Monograph

In 2019, Yiman Wang at the University of California-Santa Cruz received $60,000 to prepare an open access digital publication about Chinese American actress Anna May Wong (1905-1961).

Example: Multimedia Archives

In 2018, Valerian Three Irons of Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College received $50,400 to collect multimedia materials and create an open-access online archive of the Native American language Mandan.

Digitizing Humanities Collections at Small Institutions

Preservation Assistance Grants (PAG) help small and mid-sized institutions like museums and libraries to preserve their collections. Activities can include consultations, planning, pilot work, and education and training. PAG activities, such as rehousing, disaster preparedness, training, and assessments can support digital collections.

View all PAGs here.

Example: Digital Preservation Training

In 2021 Rollins College received $10,000 to host a two-day workshop on digital preservation for regional participants to learn how to manage digitized humanities content and born-digital records.

Example: Archival Materials and Training

In 2021, the Appalachian Mountain Club received $5,000 to purchase archival supplies and provide training in digital archives for library staff.

Example: Preservation Assessment for Digital Materials

In 2021, Kartemquin Educational Films received $9,995 for a preservation assessment of the organization’s digital audiovisual collection, which encompasses more than 55 years of independent documentary filmmaking.

Example: Post Damage Digital Collections Roadmap

In 2021, Cornell College received $9,300 for a site survey in response to serious damage caused by the August 2020 derecho. This survey included a damage assessment as well as recommendations for general collections care, policies and practices, storage and handling, environmental conditions, disaster planning, and a roadmap for digital collection.

Fundraising for Digital Infrastructure

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants are large awards intended to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities. These are used by institutions to purchase and install equipment, electricity, ventilation, security, telecommunications, and more.

These programs are Challenge Grants, which means that they are designed to incentivize fundraising. In order to receive funds from NEH, the awarded institution will need to raise external funds.

Most institutions need to raise $3–$4 for every $1 they receive from NEH, depending on the level of funding they request. As a special incentive, however, certain institutions only need to raise $1 for every $1 they release. This applies to HBCUs, HSIs, TCUs, and two-year community colleges.

View all Challenge Awards here.

Example: Updating Digital Infrastructure

In 2022, the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at Kansas State University was offered $20,000 in matching funds to update its digital infrastructure and expand its digital capacities.

Example: Expanding Digitization Workspaces

In 2020, the Pueblo City-County Library District was awarded $500,000 in matching funds to support renovation and expansion of the library’s special collections department, including an enlarged storage vault with updated climate control and fire suppression systems, an expanded staff workroom for collections processing and digitizing, and a workspace for researchers.

Example: Building a Digital Humanities Center at SJSU

In 2021, San José State University was offered $375,000 in matching funds to support establishment of a Digital Humanities Center at San José State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, including the installation of a virtual machine and computing node to expand its current digital infrastructure.

Example: Building a Digital Humanities Center at UCF

In 2020, the University of Central Florida was offered $193,736 in matching funds to support the construction of a digital humanities laboratory within a new campus building and the purchase of equipment and software, server storage space, and other furnishings in order to foster collaborative humanities learning and research, digital preservation of collections, and public programming.

Example: Expanding Data Publishing and Archiving Services

In 2019, the Alexandria Archive Institute was offered $500,000 in matching funds to support the expansion of its archaeological data publishing and archiving services, the development of a data literacy program for the broader public, and the establishment of a consortium to provide open access to archaeological data in the future.