In 1971, the Oklahoma Humanities Task Force was established as a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), one of the first local affiliates tasked with bringing the humanities directly to states and jurisdictions across the country. Today, more than 50 years later, Oklahoma Humanities, as the council is now known, is a robust nonprofit and the leading humanities organization in the state, serving the more than 3.9 million people who call Oklahoma home. Oklahoma Humanities facilitates conversation and connection, using humanities disciplines to help participants think more deeply about themselves, their communities, and their experiences living in the state.
Through its independent initiatives and grant programs, Oklahoma Humanities provides the resources, funding, and opportunities for Oklahomans to engage knowledgeably in civic life and enjoy a vibrant cultural community. The council puts the humanities into action, bringing academic disciplines like history, literature, and philosophy into the communities it serves through media, including Oklahoma Humanities magazine, exhibitions with partners like the Smithsonian Institution, and events in towns and cities in all 77 counties.
Since 1985, Oklahoma Humanities has provided lifelong learners with a dynamic and thoughtful community through Let’s Talk About It, the council’s signature book club program. Each year around 3,000 readers participate in the 50 iterations of the series, hosted by nonprofit organizations across the state. Each Let’s Talk About It series includes four to five pre-selected books that examine a theme, such as Oklahoman history, foodways, or coming of age in America, and encourages participants to examine their perspectives and learn more about others. Events are scheduled through the end of 2022 in cities and towns throughout the state. Grant applications to host a series are now open for the spring 2023 season.
In addition to its own initiatives, Oklahoma Humanities supports projects through its four grant programs: Major Grants, Challenge Grants, Opportunity Grants, and Scholar Research Grants. On average, Oklahoma Humanities awards $200,000 in grants annually, leveraging seven dollars in local support for every federal dollar granted, and serves more than 150,000 Oklahomans through grant-funded projects. In addition, Oklahoma Humanities distributed nearly $700,000 in American Rescue Plan funds from NEH to more than 50 cultural and educational organizations statewide in 2021. Oklahoma Humanities grants empower local organizations to make an impact in their communities. Speaking about the council-funded program “Immigration: A Public Debate with Students and Scholars,” Ross Faith, the executive director of the Tulsa Debate League, shared “This program has been a great benefit to our organization, and we could not have done it without the support of Oklahoma Humanities.”
NEH congratulates Oklahoma Humanities on a remarkable first 50 years of service! To learn more about Oklahoma Humanities, visit okhumanities.org.