Grant Guidelines

What We Fund
Grants We Offer
Who Is Eligible for Funding
Review Process

What We Fund

The Council funds projects that use the humanities to engage people in analyzing issues, and taking part in the meaningful exchange of ideas and opinions.

The goals of our public humanities grants are:

  • To encourage informed public discourse in communities across New York State.
  • To help New Yorkers deepen their understanding of the world around them.
  • To actively engage New Yorkers with issues and ideas.

All projects supported by the Council must be intended for and open to a general public audience. Priority is given to projects serving people for whom such opportunities are rare and projects where dialogue is integral to actively engaging the program(s) target audience(s).

All projects should also involve a strong project team, including members with humanities expertise.

The Council does not fund: scholarly research projects or conferences; stand-alone books, catalogues, films or videos; capital projects; political action or advocacy programs.

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Grants We Offer

Planning Grants of up to $1,500 support the preparation of humanities-based public programs, such as convening scholar-advisors, working with community members, and creating interpretive plans.
Click here to browse the form >

Project Grants of up to $3,000* support implementation of humanities-based public programs. You can include some planning costs within your request, however the majority of the request should be implementation costs.
Click here to browse the form >

Special Initiatives are offered each year.
Click here to read about current initiatives>

Reading and Discussion Grants are available to sites that have previously hosted Reading Between the Lines, Together—Book Talk for Kids and Parents or Unidos—Charlas de libros para niños y padres.
Click here for more information >

*Due to ongoing budget uncertainties, the Council is not currently offering any category of grants over $3,000. We hope to offer larger grants again in 2014. For the latest updates on all available funding opportunities from the Council, please sign up for our bi-monthly Grant News.

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Planning, Project, and Special Initiative grants are available on a rolling basis:

Applications Accepted
Applications Due


Your Project Begins
On a rolling basis
3 Months before the start of your Project
1 Month before the start of your Project
After Council Notification
For example: If your project begins June 1st...
March 1
May 1
June 1
  1. All applications must be submitted at least 3 months before your project starts.
  2. Applications are batched and reviewed on a monthly basis by committee.
  3. Committee decisions for each batch of grants are made within 2 months of the submission date.
  4. Project Grants ONLY: If you received a Planning Grant for the same project, you must complete all final reporting for that Planning Grant before applying for a Project Grant for the same project.

Due to ongoing budget uncertainties, the Council is not currently offering any category of grants over $3,000. We hope to offer larger grants again later in 2014. For the latest updates on all available funding opportunities from the Council, please sign up for Grant News.

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Who is Eligible for Funding

Funding is available to any tax-exempt organization located in New York State. Individuals are not eligible to receive Council grants.   Eligible organizations, or Sponsoring Organizations, may receive one of each of the grants we offer each calendar year. Please note, all Council grants are matching grants.

Sponsoring Organizations must submit three attachments: the Cultural Data Project Funder Report, IRS Letter of Determination, and at least one sample material as part of any application. ( Read more about required attachments here )

In addition, DUNS # are required of all Council applicants. To learn more and register for a DUNS # (if your organization does not have one), visit the NEH's website.

All project event dates and planning activities must take place after the notification deadline. Grantees must complete all final reporting for their Planning Grants before they are eligible to apply for a Project Grant for the same project.

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Review Process

For 2014, the Council grant committee is batch reviewing applications to ensure grant support is being distributed across New York State, for a wide variety of projects serving diverse audiences. To ensure grant decisions are made in a timely manner, applications are still due 3 months before your event.

Want to put your best foot forward? Consider making an appointment with our Grant staff for tips and feedback about your proposal.

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Glossary of Terms:

(in alpha order)

Actively Engaging
Many public programs offer a passive learning experience through such mediums as lectures, panels, exhibition text, and online content. Programs that actively engage participants provide opportunities for audience members to become participants in a learning experience (see Dialogue).

Authorizing Official
The person (such as the president, vice president, executive director, or chancellor) who is authorized to submit the grant application on behalf of the sponsoring organization, and certify their compliance with the Council's non-discrimination statues.

Cultural Data Project (CDP)
The Cultural Data Project allows organizations to publish organizational, programmatic, and financial information in one place and have it available to a wide range of funders and researchers for evaluation and case-making purposes. The data collected on the New York State Cultural Data Project’s website will be used for national and state-level case-making in support of cultural activities.

The Council values the exchange of ideas and opinions through any format that provides participants with the opportunity to respond to and engage with one another. Such formats could include (but are not limited to) facilitated conversations, moderated online discussion boards, and creative response to more formal presentations.

A DUNS #, or data universal numbering system, is required of all Council applicants. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has adopted the use of DUNS numbers as a way to keep track of how federal grant money is dispersed. Our grants and program support are made possible by federal funds and therefore subject to this DUNS # requirement. To learn more and register for a DUNS # (if your organization does not have one), visit the NEH's website.

Fiscal Officer
The primary administer of this project's budget. They must be different from the project director, and either an employee or board member of the sponsoring organization. If the project is awarded, all payments will be mailed to their attention, unless otherwise noted.

General Public Audience
The Council defines a general public audience as a group of non-specialists who can benefit from the program without prior knowledge or information. Participation also must not be limited to only members of a particular group or organization.

Grant Request
Your request to the Council for expenses related to the planning and/or implementation of your public program(s). Council funds cannot be used for expenses incurred or paid out prior to the grant award.

What are the Humanities? What does it mean to be human? The question has given rise to the fields known collectively as "the humanities," which look at what humans have created, debated, done and believed throughout the millennia. The skills and subject matters of the humanities--reading, analysis, discussion, critical thinking about: ideas, art, past events, and texts--help us be engaged members of our communities. 
( Read more about the NEH's definition of the humanities here )

Matching Funds/Grants
All Council grants are matching grants. Every dollar of the Grant Request must be equaled or exceeded by expenditures made by your organization in the form of Cash, In-Kind expenditures or a combination of the two. In other words, if you're requesting $1,000 then you must demonstrate at least $1,000 in matching funds.
( Read more about the budget form here )

Project Director
The person supervising the completion of this project. They do not have to be affiliated with the sponsoring organization.

Project Team
The Project Team is the key group of individuals, including members with demonstrable humanities expertise, contributing in either the planning or implementation phase of your project. In your application, be sure to identify the role of each team member as well as his or her relevant experience. The participation of all team members must be confirmed at the time of your application.

Serving People for Whom Such Opportunities Are Rare
The Council is aware that many New Yorkers do not have regular access to public humanities programs for a variety of reasons including geography, income, age, and ethnic background. For this reason, priority is given to programs that specifically target such audiences.

Sponsoring Organization
The New York State tax-exempt organization responsible for the project, and who will be the "Grantee" on all Council paperwork if the project is awarded.

For all grant forms, the sponsoring organization is responsible for preparing and submitting three attachments: the CDP Funder Report, IRS Letter of Determination, and at least one sample material. 
( Read more about required attachments here )

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