NEH Recognizes 50 Years of Kentucky Humanities

Kentucky Humanities
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Courtesy of Kentucky Humanities

(November 2, 2022)

From Pikeville to Paducah,  Kentucky Humanities has been telling the story of the Bluegrass State since 1972. What began as an experimental program with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) working out of a one-room office, has grown over the last 50 years into a flourishing independent organization bringing specialized humanities programming and resources to communities across the commonwealth. Each year, thousands of Kentuckians of all ages and backgrounds experience Kentucky Humanities programming and explore the rich heritage of the state they call home. In 2022, to celebrate 50 years, Kentucky Humanities hosted a series of special events giving the public a unique opportunity to connect with the chefs, musicians, poets, journalists, authors, and pioneers that are preserving Kentucky’s heritage and exploring what it means to live authentically in the state today.

Through grant awards and ongoing initiatives, Kentucky Humanities is empowering citizens to tell their stories and find connections and strengthening communities and civic engagement through humanities-based programming. Kentucky Humanities partners with schools, museums, other nonprofits, and institutions across the state, to bring book discussions, Kentucky Chautauqua performances, Speakers Bureau presentations, Prime Time Family Reading programs, and much more to communities throughout the commonwealth. Though not a state agency, Kentucky Humanities is a member of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky agency dedicated to enriching and expanding the vibrant cultural and artistic communities throughout the state, for locals and travelers alike.

Prime Time Family Reading
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Prime Time Family Reading.

Courtesy of Kentucky Humanities

Prime Time Family Reading brings families together through reading and encouraging learners of all ages to engage thoughtfully with literature. More than 300 Prime Time Family Reading programs have been held in 87 counties, at elementary schools and libraries across the state, since 2004, serving 54,600 participants. The programs are open to all families with elementary age children, and participating institutions work with community partners to enroll low-literacy, low-income, or low-education households. In addition to Prime Time Family Reading, Kentucky Humanities has distributed 9,294 books to students through the School Days program since 2018.

Beyond its ongoing initiatives and advocacy for the humanities at the state and local level, Kentucky Humanities awards thousands of dollars in grant funds to humanities projects in the commonwealth. In 2021, Kentucky Humanities awarded $50,632 in grants to 17 awardees in 13 counties, resulting in 33 public events for an audience of 9,589 Kentuckians. Kentucky Humanities also awarded ARP grants, funded through NEH, to humanities organizations recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, 51 grants were awarded, totaling $800,382 in 27 counties. For more on 2021 funding activities, read the 2021 Report to the People.

NEH congratulates Kentucky Humanities on 50 years of remarkable service, partnership, and dedication to telling the story of Kentucky. To learn more about Kentucky Humanities, visit