NEH Equity Action Plan

Through President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities (EO 13985), the Biden-Harris Administration has developed a whole-of-Government approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, NEH will implement an Equity Action Plan that embeds equity across its programs and operations, ensuring that the agency continues to fulfill its statutory mission to expand access to the humanities to “people of all backgrounds” for decades to come.

In June 2022, NEH will launch an agency-wide Equity Task Force to address barriers to full and equal participation in the agency’s programs and opportunities.  The NEH Equity Task Force will focus on the following objectives, as outlined in the Equity Action Plan.

  1. Bolstering NEH’s Data Collection Capacity: Creating an Office of Data & Evaluation and building a robust data collection system to analyze the effectiveness of NEH programs and policies and determine whether, and to what extent, they advance equity and support for underserved communities;
  1. Enhancing NEH’s Outreach and Branding for Underserved Communities: Creating an Office of Outreach and refining the agency’s branding to increase engagement with communities and institutions that have been historically underserved by NEH, such as Tribal Nations, veterans, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and community colleges;
  1. Simplifying NEH’s Grant Application Process: Simplifying the agency’s grant application processes and funding opportunity notices; and
  1. Expanding NEH’s Procurement Opportunities: Removing barriers to full and equal participation in the agency’s procurement and contracting opportunities.

The task force will balance its membership between the agency’s administrative and program staff and between supervisory and non-supervisory employees, and will include members from the agency’s Office of the General Counsel, the Senior Executive Service, and the agency’s Schedule C appointees.  The task force will engage with the National Council on the Humanities; the agency’s network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils; and other external stakeholders as appropriate.

By March 2023, NEH will establish the framework for (1) an Office of Data & Evaluation, which will provide insights into the agency’s impact on underserved communities and institutions; (2) an Office of Outreach and a revised branding strategy, which will increase engagement with communities and institutions that have been historically underserved by NEH; (3) a grant application process that better serves the underserved communities that NEH seeks to support; and (4) a procurement policy that deepens the agency’s support for small businesses that are owned by members of underserved communities.

Other Resources

Please note: NEH’s Equity Action Plan is distinct from its response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal Workforce (EO 14035), which requires the agency to recruit and retain a workforce that “draws from the full diversity of the Nation.”  Under Executive Order 14035, NEH will focus on establishing a Chief Diversity Officer position to advise the agency on matters of DEIA across its programs, operations, and policies; implementing regular trainings on implicit bias and other DEIA-related matters for staff, peer reviewers, and members of the National Council on the Humanities; and providing professional development opportunities to NEH staff that are tailored toward learning more about the diverse communities and institutions that the agency serves.

Last updated April 14, 2022.