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NEH Launches Initiative to Rediscover America Through Regional Studies

Multiyear program will establish 10 centers for study of regional characteristics

2 December 1999

WASHINGTON -- Americans will be able to explore local history, rediscover their roots and learn how their "sense of place" influences identity through the Initiative for Regional Humanities Centers, a new program developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). NEH today announced 16 planning grants totaling $800,000 to begin creating a nationwide network of 10 major centers for regional study that will explore the diverse characteristics of the nation's regions, such as local history, people, cultures, language, landscape and architecture.

The 10 regions identified for the initiative are Pacific, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, Central, Deep South, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and New England. The 16 planning grants of $50,000 each, funded by private donations, have been awarded to institutions based on their ability to collaborate with other cultural institutions in their regions, support research on regional topics, document regional history, preserve cultural resources, develop K-12 learning opportunities, build college-level degree programs in regional studies and foster cultural tourism.

"People everywhere define themselves through the places where they live or where they grew up - their 'sense of place.' History, folklore, language, and landscape - all the things we know as the humanities - shape us in deep and lasting ways. By exploring these regional characteristics, we rediscover our cultural roots and reaffirm our common bonds as Americans," said NEH's Acting Deputy Chairman George Farr. "Regional humanities centers will serve as reservoirs for a region's cultural heritage, as gathering places for shared learning by people of all ages and backgrounds, and as springboards for new research."

The purpose of this initial phase is to provide planning support for up to two qualifying institutions in each of the 10 regions defined for this initiative. The 16 institutions receiving awards are:

Arizona State University-Tempe (Southwest)
Brown University, Providence, RI (New England)
College of Charleston, SC (South Atlantic)
Michigan State University-East Lansing (Central)
North Dakota State University-Fargo (Plains)
San Francisco State University, CA (Pacific)
Southwest Texas State University-San Marcos (Southwest)
Temple / Rutgers-Camden Universities, Philadelphia, PA (Mid-Atlantic)
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA (Deep South)
University of Mississippi-Oxford (Deep South)
University of Montana-Missoula (Rocky Mountains)
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Plains)
University of New Hampshire-Durham (New England)
University of Pennsylvania-Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic)
University of Utah-Salt Lake City (Rocky Mountains)
University of Virginia / Virginia Fdn. for the Humanities, Charlottesville, VA (South Atlantic)

It is anticipated that four additional planning grants for the Pacific, Central, and Upper Mississippi Valley regions will be awarded in July 2000.

In the planning phase of the regional humanities centers initiative, the grantees will receive one year of funding to develop their plans for establishing a regional center. In the implementation phase, the planning-grant recipients will be eligible to apply for full-scale implementation funding. One institution in each region will be awarded an implementation grant of $5 million. Each institution must match this amount 3 to 1, raising $15 million over seven years. The goal is for each of the 10 centers to have a $20 million endowment to support regional humanities research, education, preservation and public programs.

"The regional humanities centers represent a gift to future generations of Americans, who will be able to enjoy the programs and resources of 10 permanently endowed educational and cultural anchors that celebrate the nation's regions. The centers will vividly demonstrate that the humanities belong to everyone," said Acting Deputy Chairman Farr. "We are very grateful to our partners in the private sector who are providing major funding for NEH's regional humanities centers initiative."

The planning grants are being underwritten through the generous contributions of The Ford Foundation; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; Appalachian Regional Commission; The Freedom Forum; Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation; The Rockefeller Foundation; The Chisolm Foundation; Roger Malkin; John N. Palmer Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Hanes Charitable Lead Trust; The Gazette and Sandra and Chuck Lyons.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.


About the 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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