NEH Announces $40 million in CARES Act Grants
Emergency relief funding will preserve humanities jobs nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $40.3 million in new CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions across the country.
NEH CARES grants, awarded across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, will allow the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to augment digital programming around its collections, will help the historic site of the Tulsa Race Massacre prepare a new exhibition and tours in preparation for the upcoming centennial, and will digitally document the history and daily life of Connecticut’s tribal communities in the early nineteenth century.
“Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs, and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites, and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy.”
In March, NEH received $75 million in supplemental grant funding through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The agency has already distributed $30 million of that funding to the 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming. Through the regranting of federal support, the councils reach an estimated annual audience of 137 million people.
For the highly competitive NEH CARES grant category, the Humanities Endowment received more than 2,300 eligible applications from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million in funding for projects between June and December 2020. Approximately 14 percent of the applicants were funded.
These 317 grants will allow cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research, and maintain buildings and core operations. An NEH CARES grant to the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, will provide continued employment for 25 staff members responsible for the museum’s public history and interpretation work. Another grant will retain cultural heritage experts at the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation to ensure the protection of the country’s humanities collections. Grants will also sustain publication of academic books by the Ohio State University Press and Gallaudet University Press. The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, will focus on the digitization and transcription of a collection of 10,000 pages of World War I letters, journals, and diaries.
NEH CARES grants will also enable organizations to prepare buildings, exhibitions, and programs for reopening. The National Willa Cather Center in Nebraska will use an NEH CARES grant to plan for a phased reopening of its historic sites by retraining staff who work closely with visitors, and creating outdoor interpretation spaces to support self-guided tours. Another grant will enable completion of a 3D digital model of Diego Rivera’s monumental 1940 Pan American Unity fresco to make the 74-foot work in San Francisco accessible to viewers across the globe. Additional grants will support staff positions at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, and smartphone tours at the Enfield Shaker Museum in New Hampshire.
Several recipients will use their grants to shift in-person programs and institutional resources online to reach a wider public during the pandemic. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will help fill gaps in remote learning through online summer seminars and digital programming for K–12 U.S. history educators. The American Writers Museum in Chicago will develop online exhibitions and curricular materials for the public, while Atlanta History Center will create a curriculum and virtual field trips for students in grades 3–12. Grants will provide for the expansion of Lakota language e-learning resources for teachers and schools in North Dakota and South Dakota, and will retain staff at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to create an online version of its exhibition on the experiences of runaway slaves.
Other grantees, such as City Lore in New York City, will document the pandemic’s impact on American communities. Radio Diaries will use NEH funding to create a series of first-person narratives, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s humanities center will work on a large oral history initiative documenting biomedical history and pandemic response since 1890.
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 neh.gov.