Short Documentaries

Division of Public Programs

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount


Open to


Expected output

Online Video

Period of performance

Six to Twenty-four months

Application available

Optional Draft due

Application due

Project start date

The Short Documentaries program supports the production and distribution of documentary films up to 30 minutes that engage audiences with humanities ideas in appealing ways.  The program aims to extend the humanities to new audiences through the medium of short documentary films.  Films must be grounded in humanities scholarship.

The Short Documentaries program supports production of single films or a series of thematically-related short films addressing significant figures, events, or ideas.  The proposed film(s) must be intended for regional or national distribution, via broadcast, festivals, and/or online distribution.  The subject of the film(s) must be related to “A More Perfect Union”: NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Commemorating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary.

Applicants must have consulted with a team of scholarly advisers in the humanities to develop the humanities themes, subjects, and ideas that the film(s) will explore.  The humanities scholars must provide diverse perspectives, and incorporate a range of scholarly ideas and approaches.

View a pre-recorded webinar.

Review your application package

Begin by reading the Notice of Funding Opportunity to ensure you understand the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and are prepared to write the most effective application.

Application Materials

Short Documentaries Notice of Funding Opportunity, 2021 (PDF)
Short Documentaries Grants.Gov application package, 2021 

Program Resources

Media Projects and Short Documentaries Frequently Asked Questions, 2021
List of Short Documentary awards

Sample Application Narratives

Samples of successful Short Documentaries narratives are not available, but you can review sample narratives from a related program, Media Projects, on the Development Grants program resource page or the Production Grants program resource page.

Register for a SAM number and an account on

To apply to this program, your organization will be need to be registered for a D-U-N-S® number, with the System for Awards Management (SAM), and with If your organization has registered with these systems previously, confirm that your registrations are current and up to date. If you fail to allow ample time to complete registration with SAM or, you will not be eligible for a deadline extension or waiver of the online electronic submission requirement.

Complete your application package

Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and in the instructions. 

Submit your application package on

You will receive a confirmation from when you’ve successfully submitted your application. Subsequently, you will receive up to five more notices confirming different stages in the application process. Verify that you have received all confirmations. Note that email filters may send these messages to your spam or junk folder.  

Program Statistics

In the last two competitions NEH received an average of
Per competition
This program has a
Funding Ratio
NEH made an average of
Per competition