United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture

United We Stand Hero Image

Hate must have no safe harbor in America—especially when that hate fuels the kind of violence we’ve seen from Oak Creek to Pittsburgh, from El Paso to Poway, and from Atlanta to Buffalo. When ordinary Americans cannot participate in the basic activities of everyday life—such as shopping at the grocery store or praying at their house of worship—without the fear of being targeted and killed for who they are, our security as well as democracy are at risk.

The arts and humanities help us develop the skills needed to find connection, common purpose, and recognition of our shared humanity. They strengthen mutual understanding and remind us of the norms and agreements that we rely on to care for one another. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) launched a joint initiative with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in September 2022 titled United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture that leverages the arts and humanities to combat hate-motivated violence. This initiative includes funding opportunities for partners in every state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. jurisdictions for programming promoting civic engagement, social cohesion, and cross-cultural understanding. 

As of March 2024, NEH has awarded more than $13 million in funding for humanities projects in all 56 states and jurisdictions through United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture.

Combating Hate-Motivated Violence Through the Humanities

Launch of Nationwide Program to Counter Hate

In September 2023, NEH issued $2.8 million to create a nationwide United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture program in all 56 U.S. states and jurisdictions that builds united fronts against hate at the community and national levels. NEH partnered with each of its state and jurisdictional affiliates to develop localized and place-based humanities programming that fostered cross-cultural understanding, empathy, and community resilience; educated the public on the history of domestic extremism and hate-based violence; promoted civic engagement, information literacy, and social cohesion; and deepened public understanding of community, state, and national history.

NEH-funded projects from 2023-24:  

  • Alaska: A workshop series for youth in Alaska to discuss, explore, and overcome systemic racism in rural and tribal communities;
  • Arizona: A community conversation series led by Arizona Humanities on what it means to be a civically engaged Arizonan and why diverse representation is critical for democracy 
  • California: Public programming led by California Humanities exploring Black history, Latinx history and foodways, gentrification, and the history of white supremacy in Southern California;
  • Guam: A civic conversation program in Guam (Guåhan) facilitated by Chamoru and Micronesian cultural practitioners focused on migration, identity, discrimination- and hate-based violence, environmental sustainability, militarization, and colonization of Guåhan and Micronesia;
  • Mississippi: A discussion program for teens in Mississippi in connection with “Anne and Emmett,” a one-act play about Anne Frank and Emmett Till;
  • Ohio: Educational programming led by Ohio Humanities that explored the impact of hate groups on Ohio’s civic fabric, past and present; 
  • Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico Humanities-led public programming that examined the history of prejudice, rights violations, and violence against LGBTQI+ communities in Puerto Rico and its diasporic enclaves in the United States; 
  • South Carolina: University partnerships with South Carolina Humanities to lead panel discussions around difficult stories regarding the impact of hate on society at a community, state, and national level; and
  • Virginia: Production of a podcast series by Virginia Humanities that tells the stories of immigrants to the United States, featuring conversations with scholars that explore their experiences and how immigrants contribute to the American story. 

In September 2024, NEH will host a national convening with all 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils focused on this initiative. In September 2025, NEH will offer an additional $2.8 million to NEH’s state and jurisdictional partners to expand this program to rural, urban, and Tribal communities.

Support for Themes Across NEH’s 40+ Grant Lines

In spring 2023, NEH published a special encouragement within all 40+ of its regular grant lines for projects that respond to the United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture initiative. Since the publication of this special encouragement, NEH has issued more than $10.5 million in support for research and development, K-12 educational workshops, public discussion series, documentary films, and museum exhibitions that counter hate-motivated violence by deepening public understanding of the histories of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups in the United States.  NEH will continue to issue this special encouragement through FY 2026.  

Recent NEH-funded United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture projects:  

  • The production of “INSURRECTION 1898,” a 90-minute documentary film to be featured on PBS about the 1898 violent overthrow of a multi-racial government by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina ($600,000);    
  • The development of a two-month graduate fellowship program focused on community archival practices pertaining to the South Asian American diaspora, with an emphasis on marginalized groups such as Muslim immigrants and members of historically discriminated castes ($350,000); 
  • “Democracy and Education: A View from Detroit,” a two-week residential institute for middle and high school educators on the history and impact of northern civil rights activism and civic participation in Detroit, Michigan ($169,619);  
  • An inventory of the intangible cultural resources of San Francisco’s Chinatown, whose residents experienced the negative impacts of widespread xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic ($115,521);  
  • The development of Refugee and Immigrant Studies curricula at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia ($100,000);   
  • Research and development of a scholarly monograph examining the cultural tensions surrounding LGBTQI+ communities in live streaming culture ($75,000);  
  • Support for Amira Jarmakani, a scholar at San Diego State University, to research and write a book titled “Weapons of Mass Dissemination: Apprehending Digital Anti-Muslim Racism,” which will examine how social media can perpetuate gendered, anti-Muslim racism and pose a dangerous threat to the United States ($60,000); and  
  • Support for David Greenberg, a scholar at Rutgers University, to research and write “John Lewis (1940-2020: A Life in Politics,” the first full-fledged biography of the civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman ($60,000).  
Special Encouragement for Projects that Counter Antisemitism and Islamophobia

In the first ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism (May 2023), NEH outlined plans to expand the agency’s investment in K-12 education on Jewish history as well as research, teaching, and convening opportunities for humanities scholars and institutions to study the origins, history, and effects of antisemitism in the United States.  NEH is funding several projects in response to the May 2023 strategy:

  • Partnerships focused on K-12 curriculum development with National History Day and the U.S. National Holocaust Memorial Museum that promote better understanding among young people of antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Jewish history
  • Research and development for a book titled “Antisemitism, An American Tradition,” which traces the history of antisemitism in the United States from 1657 to the present
  • Production of a feature-length documentary for PBS American Masters on the life and works of author, activist, educator, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel. 

As of March 2024, NEH is supporting the White House on the development of the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia.

Healing from Hate-Motivated Violence Through the Humanities

Emergency Response to Communities Grappling with Hate-Motivated Violence

NEH regularly offers emergency assistance to communities in the wake of incidents of hate-motivated violence. 

One recent example is an NEH award to Humanities Texas—in partnership with Baylor University and a local library—in fall 2022 to establish an archive in Uvalde, Texas, to preserve community and national responses to the Robb Elementary School massacre that occurred on May 24, 2022.  

NEH Points of Contact

  • Kelsey Coates, Chief of Staff (@email)
  • Yennie Tse, Assistant Chair for Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives (@email)

Read about the wide range of humanities council-led United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture programs being planned across the country. 

About United We Stand

About United We Stand

In September 2022, theUnited We Stand Summitconvened leaders to counter the destructive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety, mobilize diverse sectors of society and communities across the country to these dangers, and put forward a shared, inclusive, bipartisan vision for a more united America. Americans of all backgrounds, beliefs, and political affiliations remain overwhelmingly united in their opposition to hate-fueled violence. The United We Stand Summit brought togetherunitersfrom across America who are leading work in their communities to build bridges and address hate and division, including survivors of hate-fueled violence. 

NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD and NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo) participated in the summit, which included bipartisan federal, state, and local officials, civil rights groups, faith and community leaders, technology and business leaders, law enforcement officials, former members of violent extremist groups who now work to prevent violence, gun violence prevention leaders, media representatives, and cultural figures. NEH Chair Lowe spoke on behalf of the NEH and NEA as part of the panelFederal Initiatives to Address Hate-Fueled Violence(2:27:45) where she introduced the United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture joint initiative. Read more about these efforts in the United We Standfact sheet

Watch the full United We Stand Summit

“The arts and humanities have always been an avenue for acknowledging and expressing pain, coming to terms with that pain, and building support networks for survivors. In moments of loss and tragedy, we come together to both create and turn to art, poetry, music, literature for solace and healing. And to the lessons of history for understanding, and to religion and philosophy for acceptance. Combating hate not only requires us to identify the root causes of that hate but also to identify our inherent capacity for love, acceptance, empathy, and belonging.” –NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe