Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants

Office of Challenge Programs

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount


Open to


Expected output

Digital Infrastructure;

Period of performance

Up to five years

Application available

Application due

Expected notification date

Project start date

The purpose of the 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. The program funds two distinct types of projects, each with its own Notice of Funding Opportunity:

  • Capital Projects supports the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities.  This includes the purchase and installation of related moveable and permanently affixed equipment for exhibiting, maintaining, monitoring, and protecting collections (whether on exhibit or in storage), and for critical building systems, such as electrical, heating ventilation and air conditioning, security, life safety, lighting, utilities, telecommunications, and energy management.  
  • Digital Infrastructure supports the maintenance, modernization, and sustainability of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms.

Fundraising is a critical part of NEH Challenge grant awards: up to 10 percent of total funds (Challenge matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance. 

What’s new in 2021

  • If you applied to the May 18, 2021 deadline and your proposal was rejected for issues of eligibility, completeness, or responsiveness, you may apply for the September 28, 2021 deadline.
  • Two deadlines per year: May 18, 2021 and September 28, 2021
  • 5-year maximum period of performance

Disclaimer: This is not a complete list of all changes to the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

The webinar below was recorded August 10, 2021.

Watch the 2021 Infrastructure and Capacity Building webinar 

  • 37-minute presentation
  • 10-minute question and answer session
  • Closed captions available

Download a transcript of the webinar (PDF)

Download the webinar slides (PDF)

Review your application package

Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity to ensure you understand the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and that you are prepared to write the most effective application. Note that this program has separate NOFOs for capital projects and digital infrastructure projects.

Application Materials

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants: Capital Projects Notice of Funding Opportunity 2021 (PDF)

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants: Digital Infrastructure Notice of Funding Opportunity 2021 (PDF) application package for Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants

Program Resources

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants Frequently Asked Questions, 2021

Instructions for the Supplementary Cover Sheet for NEH Grant Programs

Sample Work Plan

SF-429-A Real Property Status Report (PDF)

SF-429-A Instructions (PDF)

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)

Frequently Asked Questions about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Certification of Matching Gifts for NEH Challenge Grants Form (PDF)

Administration of NEH Challenge Infrastructure and Capacity Building Grants 

2021 New Recipient Webinar

2021 New Recipient Webinar transcription

Sample Application Narratives

Alexandria Archive Institute, Data Literacy and Community Building in Digital Heritage (PDF)

Cabell County Public Library, Construction of a New Branch Library (PDF)

Dubuque County Historical Society, Preservation and Restoration through Campus Improvements (PDF)

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Multidisciplinary Display of Permanent Collection Artwork (PDF)

Reynolda House Roof Renovation (PDF)

University of California, San Diego, Construction of the Institute of Arts and Humanities (PDF)

Register for a SAM number and an account on

As soon as you know you're ready to apply for this grant, make sure you register for a SAM number/D-U-N-S® number, and for a account. If you already have registered with these systems, make sure they are up to date.

Complete your application package

Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the notice of funding opportunity and and in the instructions. 

Submit your application package on

You will receive a confirmation from when you've successfully submitted your application. 

Verify you have received email messages from

After you submit your application, will send you up to five e-mail messages confirming receipt of your application. These messages represent different stages in the application acceptance process. You should verify that you have received all confirmation messages. Please note that email filters may send these messages to your spam or junk folder.

Program Statistics

In the last four competitions the program received
The program had a
funding ratio
The program made
per year