NEH and Teagle Foundation Partner on $7 Million Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative 

New grant initiative provides funding for the creation of new undergraduate curriculum ‘pathways’ anchored in the humanities    

Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative 
(September 23, 2020)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Teagle Foundation are partnering to sponsor Cornerstone: Learning for Living, a grant program to reinvigorate the humanities in general education on campuses across the country. 

The two institutions have jointly pledged $7 million to fund grants to colleges and universities to develop and implement new pathways within the undergraduate curriculum that will give students from all backgrounds the chance to experience the power of the humanities under the mentorship of committed teachers and help them connect the humanities to their professional aspirations. 

The Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative aims to provide all students with the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world and themselves, while strengthening the skills to read closely, write clearly, speak with confidence, and to engage with differing viewpoints and perspectives—all capacities cultivated by the humanities that are crucial for participation in our democracy. 

“The humanities help us make sense of ourselves, our culture, and our place in the world,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is proud to partner with The Teagle Foundation to put the humanities at the center of general education, giving today’s college students the tools necessary to meet the challenges of tomorrow.” 

NEH and Teagle Foundation logos

The Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative emphasizes gateway courses aimed at incoming students that are anchored in transformative texts—ancient and modern, Western and non-Western—that have changed the world and continue to have the power to transform individual lives. The initiative will also emphasize thematically organized clusters of courses that bring humanistic inquiry to problems in business, health, engineering, and other technical fields. 

This new initiative seeks to counter a growing trend at many institutions, where general education is structured around distribution requirements and minimizes opportunities for genuine engagement with deep and difficult questions raised by the humanities and for building community through a common intellectual experience.  

“Encouraging students to ask questions about meaning and purpose in life, and about how to organize a just society—and to do so with the help of searching works and caring teachers—is essential for a rewarding college experience and ultimately for the health of American civic life,” said Andrew Delbanco, President of The Teagle Foundation. “Yet the humanities, which pose such questions, are languishing on many campuses. Our partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities to co-sponsor the Cornerstone: Learning for Living grant program aims to foster deep discussions in and beyond the classroom about formative ideas in our multicultural world, and thereby to help students grow into reflective adulthood.” 

This new initiative is inspired by the innovative Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program at Purdue University, which helps undergraduates in preprofessional majors strengthen critical thinking and communication skills. The Purdue program also has created new teaching opportunities for humanities faculty. 

The Cornerstone: Learning for Living grant initiative invites applications from a broad array of institutions, including community colleges, STEM-oriented institutions, liberal arts colleges, tribal colleges, historically black colleges and universities, regional comprehensive institutions, and research universities. Implementation grants of up to $350,000 over 24 months will be made to each funded project. Implementation grants may be used to support teaching fellowships for doctoral students, post-doctoral scholars, and/or visiting faculty. Applications for planning grants up to $25,000 over 12 months are strongly encouraged to lay the groundwork for successful curricular reform and faculty professional development.  

Please see the Cornerstone: Learning for Living request for proposals and toolkit for application information. Concept papers for the first round of planning and implementation awards must be submitted by December 1, 2020, at @email 

For additional information, join the Cornerstone: Learning for Living institute on teaching with transformative texts, open to all interested faculty, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 8, and Thursday, October 15, via Zoom.  


National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

The Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life. Our aim is to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of teaching and learning in the arts and sciences while addressing issues of financial sustainability and accountability in higher education. 

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