NEH Awards $2.8 Million to State and Jurisdictional Humanities Councils for History and Civics Education Initiatives

NEH’s “A More Perfect Union” funding will support projects around the country focusing on engaged citizenship and the history of America’s constitutional democracy

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Photo by Luke Michael/ Unsplash

(September 17, 2021)

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced it has awarded $2.8 million in funding to the 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils and interim partners to support civics education and American history programs that deepen audience understanding of and commitment to our nation’s core principles of our nation’s constitutional government and democracy.

“As we celebrate Constitution Day, I could not be more pleased to announce NEH support for 56 new local initiatives that will invite audiences across the country to reflect on our diverse history and the ideals that have animated the republic for more than 200 years,” said NEH Acting Chairman Adam Wolfson. “NEH is proud to assist our state and jurisdictional affiliates in developing a wide range of resources to foster civil discourse and increase students’ understanding of our systems of government and give them the skills and knowledge to participate in civic life.”

Each council and interim partner will receive $50,000 to develop scholar-led humanities projects that engage local communities, educators, and students in reflection, study, and discussion of American and community history, and the rights and responsibilities of active citizenship.

These funds are awarded under NEH’s special initiative, “A More Perfect Union,” which is designed to demonstrate and enhance the critical role the humanities play in our nation and support projects that help Americans commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. The “A More Perfect Union” initiative supports projects that explore, reflect on, and tell the stories of our quest for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society throughout our history.

“Our member councils are honored and enthusiastic to have an opportunity to collaborate with NEH on its timely ‘A More Perfect Union’ initiative. Rooted in civics, ethics, and storytelling, and driven by the histories and lived experiences of the diverse communities they serve, the state and jurisdictional humanities councils are uniquely poised to create and conduct programs that explore our nation’s past, present, and future,” said Phoebe Stein, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. 

This supplemental funding will support a wide range of projects in communities large and small across the United States and U.S. territories. They include community reading and discussion programs, creation of educational materials and civics education programs for schools, exhibitions, lecture series, civics-oriented podcasts and television programs, and state grant programs to fund organizations focusing on history education, civics literacy, and civil discourse. Several of the proposed projects focus on founding documents and constitutional governance, state and regional history, Native American and Indigenous history and culture, and issues of racial, social, and gender equality. Many will build upon or expand ongoing work by the humanities councils to advance knowledge of history and civics.

Examples include:

  • Arkansas Humanities Council will create a 10-part “We The People” seminar for middle and high school teachers on the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions, offer subawards of up to $1,000 to K–12 teachers to develop additional civics education resources for the classroom, and sponsor a public lecture series featuring scholars of constitutional law and Arkansas history.
  • Humanities Kansas will develop a 21st Century Civics program, a collection of in-person and online speakers, book and film discussions, and other public programs that would inform Kansans about the shared responsibility of citizenship and the history of American democracy.
  • Humanities DC will develop a podcast series, DC’s Porch Tales, as a platform to record and share community history. Episodes will focus on the stories of District of Columbia residents, with the first season highlighting Black women who participated in the civil rights and women’s rights movements.
  • West Virginia Humanities Council will redesign a 2005 traveling exhibition, Born of Rebellion: West Virginia Statehood, and develop an online “civics toolkit,” for K–12 teachers, of articles, graphics, and interactive media on West Virginia history that aligns with state curriculum standards.
  • Mass Humanities will expand the council’s Reading Frederick Douglass Together program, which offers audiences in communities across the state opportunities to reflect on American history, the evolution of American democracy, and racial justice through public readings of Frederick Douglass’s speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
  • Humanities Washington will produce media and discussion programs that explore the idea of “certain inalienable rights” promised by the Declaration of Independence. These will include the collection of thirty oral histories from Washington residents to inform a podcast series, high school curriculum materials on democracy and civics, and online panel discussions.
  • Mississippi Humanities Council will develop short historical documentary public television segments, podcasts, and a pop-up traveling exhibition for rural libraries and schools that explore the legacy of the local people who fought for voting and civil rights in Mississippi, pushing the state to live up to the ideals of the Constitution.
  • Amerika Samoa Humanities Council will develop a public discussion series focusing on the U.S. Constitution, the American Samoa Constitution, and the Deed of Cession, the 1900 treaty that ceded the Samoan islands to the United States.

These programs will run from October 2021 through September 2022. For additional information on NEH- and humanities council-supported local history and civics projects, consult your local state or jurisdictional humanities council.



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

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