Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants
Maximum award amount
Period of performance
Expected notification date
Project start date
ALERT from SAM.gov: The first time you log in to SAM.gov after June 29, 2018, you’ll be asked to create a login.gov user account (if you don’t already have one). Going forward, you will use your login.gov username and password every time you log in to SAM.gov. Your current SAM.gov username and password will no longer work. If you are renewing or registering a new entity in SAM.gov, you must mail an original, signed notarized letter stating that you are the authorized Entity Administrator for the entity associated with the DUNS number. Read the FAQs to learn more about these process changes. Currently SAM.gov recommends that registrations and renewals submit their notarized letters at least 45 days in advance of expiration dates or anticipated needs. Please note that you will be unable to access Grants.gov Workspace or fillable application forms until your SAM.gov registration is active.
The mission of this 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. Applications are welcome from colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, research institutions, historical societies and historic sites, scholarly associations, state humanities councils, and other public and nonprofit humanities entities. Programs that involve collaboration among multiple institutions are eligible as well, but one institution must serve as the lead agent and formal applicant of record.
Through these awards organizations can increase their humanities capacity with funds invested in a restricted, short-term endowment or other investment fund (or spend-down funds) that generate expendable earnings to support and enhance ongoing program activities. Eligible activities include the documentation of cultural heritage materials that are lost or imperiled; the preservation and conservation of humanities materials; and the sustaining of digital scholarly infrastructure.
Challenge grants may also support the purchase of equipment and software; the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities needed for humanities activities; and collections sharing. Such expenditures bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly.
Up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance.
Challenge funds (both federal matching funds and required nonfederal gifts) must enhance the humanities in the long term. Challenge grants should not merely replace funds already being expended, but instead should reflect careful strategic planning to strengthen and enrich an institution’s humanities activities. Institutions may use challenge funds to meet both ongoing and one-time humanities-related costs, provided that the long-term benefit of the expenditure can be demonstrated.
As soon as you know you're ready to apply for this grant, make sure you register for a SAM number/DUNS number, and for a grants.gov account as this is vital to the grants process. If you already have registered for these items, make sure they are up to date.
Begin by reading the full grant guidelines and studying the application. The files are linked below. You want to ensure you understand all the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and are prepared to write the most effective application.
Download Application Materials
Sample Application Narratives
Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the guidelines and in the grants.gov instructions.
You will receive a confirmation from grants.gov when you've successfully submitted your application.
After you submit your application, Grants.gov 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.