Budget Solidifies Support for NEH Programs, We the People

WASHINGTON, (February 5, 2007)

Agency's FY 2008 budget request of $141 million includes $400,000 increase

President Bush's fiscal year 2008 budget request for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seeks funding of $141.355 million, an increase of $400,000 over the agency's FY 2007 budget request. The 2008 request includes $15.2 million for the agency's We the People program, which encourages and strengthens the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. It also includes $1.4 million for NEH's recently launched Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI).

"The humanities are essential to the survival and flourishing of free societies," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "The President's budget request reaffirms his longstanding support of the Endowment and its We the People program. With this funding, NEH will continue its efforts to preserve and promote the best of the humanities and to improve our citizens' understanding of who we are as a nation."

In addition to sustaining the Endowment's grant programs supporting the best scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities, the FY 2008 funding will provide a fifth year of funding for We the People through a variety of projects and activities:

  • Support for core programs: More than 1,240 projects in the agency's core grant programs have received We the People funding.
  • State Humanities Councils: State humanities councils in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories have become active partners in We the People. Using funds appropriated for We the People, the Endowment has provided significant funding each year to the state councils, which has enabled them to develop or to enhance hundreds of high quality local and statewide projects and programs on American history and culture.
  • Landmarks of American History and Culture: This program supports one-week workshops for K-12 teachers and community college faculty at important historical sites around the nation. In the first three years of this innovative program, nearly 6,000 teachers attended these intellectually engaging and educationally rich workshops.
  • National Digital Newspaper Program: This innovative program supports projects to convert microfilm of historically significant U.S. newspapers into fully searchable digital files and to make these files available on the Internet. Developed in partnership with the Library of Congress, this complex, long-term project ultimately will make more than 30 million pages of newspapers accessible online to students, teachers, parents, scholars, and historians. In early 2007, the first 200,000 pages will be available on the Library of Congress's prototype Web site, "American Chronicle."
  • We the People Bookshelf: In partnership with the American Library Association, the Endowment has annually provided sets of classic works of literature to thousands of public and school libraries as part of a new We the People Bookshelf program. These books convey important themes from American history and culture to an audience of young readers. Since the program began in 2004, 4,000 sets of books have been distributed to libraries in every state.
  • New We the People grant categories: New grant categories have been established to expand opportunities for audiences to engage in lifelong learning related to the themes of We the People: "Interpreting 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 has awarded special grants for educational and cultural institutions to strengthen their programs that enhance our understanding of the nation's founding events, democratic principles, and cultural heritage.

The Endowment's $15.2 million FY 2008 budget request for We the People would allow the agency not only to continue these excellent and diverse programs, but also to add important new ones, such as the following:

  • A special program modeled on and linked to the successful We the People Bookshelf program that will celebrate the cultural and historical value of iconic American cinema. The We the PeopleVideoshelf, which will showcase classic American films that focus on historic events and themes central to our heritage and identity as Americans, would be distributed to thousands of libraries nationwide; and
  • A collaboration with the Department of State to bring foreign school teachers and other humanities practitioners to the U.S. to participate in selected Landmarks of American History and Culture workshops. This exciting new partnership will further promote understanding of the United States and American democratic principles.

The Endowment has recently launched a major, multi-year initiative—the Digital Humanities Initiative(DHI)—that will encourage and support projects that use, or study the impact of, digital technology on research, education, preservation, and public programming in the humanities. The agency's FY 2008 budget requests $1.4 million to support this new undertaking. Through this initiative, NEH will foster the growth of digital humanities and support a wide variety of projects including, for example, those that deploy technologies and methods to enhance our understanding of a topic or issue in the humanities; those that study the impact of digital technology on the humanities—exploring the ways technology changes how we read, write, think, and learn; and those that digitize important materials, thereby increasing the public's ability to search and access humanities information.

While some pieces of the DHI are being put in place in FY 2007, others will be implemented in the coming years. The DHI's initial components include a new program of Digital Start-Up Grants to encourage innovative projects that meld information technology and the humanities; a new grant category of Digital Humanities Fellowships to encourage humanities scholars to use advanced electronic technologies and to work collaboratively with scholars in computing and other fields; a new program of Digital Humanities Workshops for the nation's elementary and secondary school teachers to help them deepen their knowledge, understanding, and skills in using digital resources in their classrooms; and an effort to expand support for digital projects by the state humanities councils. The Endowment also recently forged a strategic partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in support of digital humanities projects. The program, which is being administered by NEH, will support projects that involve collaboration among libraries, museums, archives, and universities that make use of digital technologies to benefit the millions of Americans served by the nation's cultural and educational institutions.

The FY 2008 budget includes essential funding for NEH grant programs in support of high quality education, research, preservation, and public programming in all fields and disciplines of 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.

The agency's FY 2008 budget request will support the following NEH strategic objectives:

  • Preserve and increase access to essential cultural and intellectual resources essential for the American people;
  • Strengthen humanities teaching and learning in the nation's schools and colleges;
  • Facilitate basic research and original scholarship in the humanities;
  • Provide opportunities for Americans to engage in lifelong learning in the humanities;
  • Maintain and strengthen the programs and activities of the state humanities councils;
  • Strengthen the institutional base of the humanities;
  • Leverage third-party contributions to humanities projects; and
  • Provide administrative funds to operate the agency effectively and efficiently.
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