Budget Protects NEH Core Programs, Extends We the People

WASHINGTON, (February 7, 2005)

Agency's FY 2006 request seeks level funding

President Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget request for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seeks funding of more than $138 million, including $11.2 million for the agency's We the People initiative. The request keeps NEH's budget at the current year's level, maintaining the Endowment's core programs while extending support for the ongoing We the People initiative.

"President Bush has again demonstrated his commitment to strengthening humanities education, promoting excellence in scholarship, and enhancing public knowledge of the humanities," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "The We the People initiative is a proven success, and this request will continue its momentum and build on its achievements."

In addition to sustaining the Endowment's grant programs in support of excellence in the humanities, the FY 2006 funding will continue support for the We the People initiative through a variety of projects, including the following:

  • Landmarks of American History: NEH has established a Landmarks of American History program in the Endowment's Education Programs division to support enrichment workshops for K-12 teachers at important historical sites around the nation. The program supported 17 projects in its first grant competition and the initial workshops-which were held in such historic places as St. Augustine, Florida, the Vancouver Historic Preserve in Washington, and Mt. Vernon, Virginia-drew almost 1,900 teachers last summer. Building on the resounding success of this new program, the Endowment has broadened the competition to include workshops for community college faculty.
  • National Digital Newspaper Program: NEH and the Library of Congress forged a long-term partnership to support a new National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) that will convert microfilm of historically important U.S. newspapers into fully searchable digital files and post the files on the Internet. NEH will make the initial NDNP awards in FY 2005. This long-term investment ultimately will make millions of newspapers pages accessible online. Anyone with Internet access will be able to peruse this rich source of American history. This project will yield untold benefits for the American people far into the future.
  • State Humanities Councils: The state humanities councils have enthusiastically embraced the goals of the We the People initiative. The Endowment has provided significant funding to the 56 state councils, thus enabling them to develop high quality local and statewide projects and programs on American history and culture. The state humanities councils are helping to ensure that the initiative reaches citizens in every state by sponsoring reading and discussion programs, speakers' bureau presentations, films, exhibitions, teacher institutes and workshops, and Chautauqua-type historical performances.
  • We the People Bookshelf: In partnership with the American Library Association, the Endowment established a special We the People Bookshelf program for the nation's school and public libraries. Through this program, NEH annually makes available to 1,000 libraries a set of 15 classic works of literature that convey important themes from American history and culture to an audience of young readers. Each year the program will explore a different theme--the first year's theme was "courage." This year's Bookshelf theme, "freedom," includes such classic titles as Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride, Willa Cather's My Ántonia, and Catherine Drinker Bowen's Miracle at Philadelphia.
  • EDSITEment: NEH awarded two cooperative agreements to institutions to develop resources for the teaching of U.S. history through EDSITEment, the nationally recognized gateway for teachers seeking rich humanities resources and materials on the Internet. Over the next two years, these projects will develop approximately 75 lesson plans that will be mounted on EDSITEment and made accessible to the nation's elementary and secondary school teachers, as well as to students and parents.
  • Historic Places, Family Programs: Two new special grant categories were established in the agency's Public Programs division to provide opportunities for general audiences to engage in lifelong learning related to the themes of We the People. "America's Historic Places" supports projects that use one or more historic sites to address themes central to American history. And "Family and Youth Programs in American History" supports projects designed to encourage intergenerational learning about significant topics in U.S. history and culture.
  • Challenge Grants: The NEH Challenge Grants program is offering special awards for educational and cultural institutions to strengthen their programs that advance knowledge of the founding principles of the United States.
  • Heroes of History Lecture: NEH launched an annual "Heroes of History" lecture where an acclaimed humanities scholar tells the story of heroic figures in American history or speaks on the role of heroes in forging our national identity. Last year's lecturer--writer, scholar, and co-chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Harold Holzer--spoke on "Abraham Lincoln, American Hero" at Ford's Theatre.
  • Idea of America Essay Contest: The Endowment established an annual "Idea of America" essay contest competition to encourage students to research and analyze aspects of our nation's history and democratic principles. Medals and cash awards are presented to a grand prize winner and five runners up at ceremony held in conjunction with the "Heroes of History" lecture. The 2004 contest-in which students were asked: "How does President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address reflect America's founding ideas, and what is the relevance of the speech today?"-drew over 1,500 entries from 11th grade students across the country.
  • New Elements of We the People: New elements of the initiative will be introduced, including a special program aimed at elementary and middle schools on key works of American art; support for projects to digitize copies of scholarly editions and reference works on important figures and events in American history and culture; a special Armed Services version of the popular We the People Bookshelf program; and a national history competition for elementary and middle school students.

The Endowment also is continuing two special preservation initiatives. NEH is awarding grants under the agency's special initiative, "Recovering Iraq's Past," to support projects to preserve and document Iraq's cultural resources and to develop education and training opportunities for Iraq's librarians, archivists, and preservation specialists. In addition, NEH entered into a multi-year partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop and advance knowledge concerning endangered languages.

The FY 2006 budget includes essential funding for NEH grant programs in support of high quality education, research, preservation, and public programming in the humanities and for the projects and programs of the state humanities councils; challenge and other matching grants to stimulate and match nonfederal contributions to humanities projects; and the Endowment's administrative expenses necessary to operate the agency.

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