Grant Proposal Guidelines

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Grant Proposal Guidelines
Large Grants

Grassroots Grants

Planning Grants

Mission Statement

The North Carolina Humanities Council serves as an advocate for lifelong learning and thoughtful dialogue about all facets of human life. It facilitates the exploration and celebration of the many voices and stories of North Carolina’s cultures and heritage.


The Humanities Council develops among North Carolinians an understanding of and appreciation for the humanities that can transform the way they see themselves and their communities. In support of these goals, the Humanities Council is committed to the following:

» an interdisciplinary approach to the humanities

» dialogue

» discovery and understanding of the humanities--culture, identity, and history

» respect for individual community members and community values

» humanities scholarship and scholars to develop humanities perspectives

» cultural diversity and inclusiveness

» informed and active citizenship as an outgrowth of new awareness of self and community
General Criteria

North Carolina Humanities Council-sponsored programs must involve both humanities scholars and the public and are aimed at a wide, community-based audience. Proposals will be evaluated according to how well they fit with the mission and goals of the Council, including the following:

  • Community involvement and its reflected diversity

  • Strength of scholar(s)

  • Potential long-term impact or replicability of the program

  • Nature of the topic and intended audience

  • Project’s contribution to the Council’s commitment to supporting public humanities programs throughout the state

Types of Grants
Planning Grant $750 or less

The planning grant secures the assistance of a humanities scholar/consultant to plan a

project. Allowable expenses include consultant’s stipends and reimbursement for travel,

meals, and lodging. There is no deadline for a planning grant. Please submit the original application and one copy.

Grassroots Grant $2,000 or less

The grassroots grant provides up to $2,000 for scholar stipends, travel expenses including meals and lodging, publicity, and certain other expenses connected with a project of limited scope.

Grassroots grant applications must arrive at the North Carolina Humanities Council office by the first day of the month to be considered for funding during that month’s funding cycle. Applicants are required to submit proposals for projects which begin no less than eight weeks after the first of the month submission deadline. Grant awards are usually made no later than the end of the month. For example, a proposal submitted on September 1 will receive a funding decision by September 30 for a project that begins no earlier than November 1. Please submit the original application and a digital version via email.
Large Grant more than $2,000
The large grant requires the submission of a draft proposal. Large grants provide funds for humanities projects of extended scope including, but not limited to, lecture/discussion series, performance/discussions, exhibit/discussions, and film/video productions. Media projects are limited to $5,000. Please submit the original application and 4 copies.
Large Grant Deadlines

For projects beginning after

July 15

December 15

Draft proposals are due

March 15

August 15

Final proposals are due

April 15

September 15

Award decisions are made



You Need to Know

  1. What makes a humanities program different from other kinds of programs?

An important goal of the humanities is to encourage reflection about values and ideas through interdisciplinary programs. All of us hold beliefs and assumptions which shape the way we see the world, whether it is a contemporary issue or our understanding of an historical event. A humanities program makes us more aware of the connection between our values and the views that we express in public and private life. It also encourages us to understand the values of others and how their views may differ from our own.
A good humanities program makes us think in new ways. It questions, without providing pat answers. It presents different points of view about an issue or a topic. A humanities program moves beyond facts and information (what, where, and when) to questions of interpretation and analysis (i.e., “What is the meaning of this story?” or “How can we learn from it?” or “Which version of the story do we chose to believe and why?”).
These are the kinds of questions that humanities disciplines ask about any subject. Although the particular focus of how we come to understand human experience may differ from discipline-to-discipline, what is consistent is the necessity of rigorous inquiry and connecting meaning to how we live our lives. As the founding legislation of the National Endowment for the Humanities states, “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.”
Humanities disciplines, according to the NEH, include but are not limited “to the study and interpretation of language, both modern and classical; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; and those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods.”
Humanities projects incorporate how understanding gained from the study of such disciplines helps us reflect on and give meaning to our “diverse heritage, traditions, histories, and the current conditions of national life.”
For further discussion and clarification of how the Humanities Council interprets the humanities and its application to public programs, please feel free to contact Humanities Council staff.

  1. How do we find humanities professionals to help us plan and carry out our project?

A humanities scholar is defined as someone with an advanced degree (at least an M.A.) in a humanities discipline. A wider definition includes lay scholars, such as community elders with special expertise in the life-ways, traditions, and worldviews of particular cultures.
North Carolina Humanities Council staff can help you locate humanities scholars who are willing to participate and have experience in public programs. If you have a topic in mind, staff can provide a list of individuals with matching interests and expertise. You may also want to contact a university, college, or community college humanities department for help.

  1. What kinds of groups have received grants?

Successful applicants have included libraries, schools, museums, religious institutions, universities, colleges, community colleges, tribal organizations, civic clubs, home-extension units, arts councils, city and county governments, community-based organizations, and ad hoc groups created for the sole purpose of carrying out a project.

  1. What if an individual has an idea for a project?

The North Carolina Humanities Council does not make grants to individuals. Individuals with a project idea may want to consult with a nonprofit organization to determine whether this group shares their interests and will serve as the project sponsor.

  1. What kinds of project formats are supported?

Some of the projects the North Carolina Humanities Council has funded include reading-and-discussion programs, lectures, conferences, seminars, symposia, media projects (radio, television, film, video, DVD, web), performance activities with discussion (such as plays, staged reading, and original performance initiatives), oral histories, photographic exhibits, museum exhibits, the creation and dissemination of printed materials, and teacher workshops.

  1. What is the limit of a large grant request?

While there is no fixed limit, North Carolina Humanities Council large grants average approximately $5,000 and rarely exceed $10,000. North Carolina Humanities Council staff encourages you to contact them. They are ready to assist you in developing your program ideas and project formats. We encourage first drafts of all grant proposals, but we require first drafts of large grant proposals according to the schedule outlined above.

Policies Affecting All North Carolina Humanities Council Grant Categories

  1. Sponsor Eligibility

The sponsoring group must be a nonprofit organization operating in North Carolina or a non-profit sponsor whose project focus is of interest to North Carolinians. The North Carolina Humanities Council does not give grants to individuals nor does it grant scholarships or fellowships. While the North Carolina Humanities Council welcomes applications that involve educational institutions, the proposed project must reach a broader community of citizens. We encourage programs that engage adults and life-long learning.

  1. Humanities Scholars

Humanities scholars must be involved in both the planning and implementation of North Carolina Humanities Council funded projects.

  1. Topic Eligibility

The subject of the project must be within or addressed by one or more of the humanities disciplines. The North Carolina Humanities Council cannot fund projects which center on the creative or performing arts (theatre, dance, music, or visual arts) unless the arts set the stage for a humanities program. The North Carolina Humanities Council cannot fund projects which advocate social or political action. Public funds cannot be used to advocate personal/political points of view.

  1. Sponsor Cost-Share

Project sponsors and all persons and organizations connected with a project must match North Carolina Humanities Council grant monies with in-kind and/or cash contributions at least equivalent to the amount of North Carolina Humanities Council outright funds requested.

  1. Standard of Conduct

The NEH stipulates that officers, employees, and agents of the project sponsor will neither solicit nor accept gratuities, favors, or anything of monetary value from prospective contractors or parties to the project who might hope to receive financial or other benefit from being associated with it.

  1. Conflict of Interest

Recipients of grants from the North Carolina Humanities Council must be careful to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest in disbursement of grant funds. Such a conflict would arise if, for example, the project director or head of the sponsoring organization chose a spouse or relative to receive North Carolina Humanities Council funds in return for services rendered to the project. The range of people prohibited from receiving North Carolina Humanities Council funds without special approval include immediate family members, spouses, business partners, or employers of the people who make decisions on participants in the grant for the sponsor. Violation of these restrictions could result in revocation of the grant by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

  1. Federal Requirement

As of October 1, 2010, under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), no organization can receive a sub grant award without providing a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to the awarding agency. A DUNS number is a nine-digit number established by Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B) to uniquely identify business entities. This number can be obtained from D&B by telephone at 866 705-5711 or through their website,
Restrictions Governing the Use of North Carolina Humanities Council Funds

  1. All activities funded by North Carolina Humanities Council grants must be free and open to the public.

  1. The North Carolina Humanities Council cannot fund projects which advocate social or political action. Public funds cannot be used to advocate personal/political points of view.

  1. Funding is for projects that begin no less than eight weeks after the submission date of the award for grassroots grants and no less that eight weeks from the award decision for large grants. North Carolina Humanities Council does not offer funding retroactively. While expenses incurred prior to the grant award are not reimbursable from North Carolina Humanities Council funds, these expenses may be used as part of the sponsor’s match when accurate documentation of in-kind services has been maintained. A North Carolina Humanities Council “in-kind contributions” documentation form will be sent to the project director upon approval of the proposal.

  1. North Carolina Humanities Council grant funds cannot be used to purchase equipment, buildings, or other non-expendable items, such as tape recorders, film projectors, or video equipment.

  1. Grant funds cannot be used to pay salaries to individuals who are administering the grant as part of a salaried job.

  1. The stipend payment to a speaker, scholar, or presenter for a single presentation in a program cannot exceed $400 in North Carolina Humanities Council funds.

  1. Except for the meals of program presenters or consultants, North Carolina Humanities Council funds cannot be used for food. In addition, grant funds cannot be used for popular entertainment for diversion, liquor, or social activities. In conjunction with project activities, applicants may provide refreshments and/or lunches and dinners for their audiences through local cash contributions.

For more information, please contact:

North Carolina Humanities Council

320 East 9th Street, Suite 414

Charlotte, NC 28202

Phone:  (704) 687-1520

Fax: (704) 687-1550

Or Email:

North Carolina Humanities Council ● 320 East 9th Street, Suite 414 Charlotte, NC 28202 ● Phone: (704) 687-1520 ● Fax: (704) 687-1550

© The North Carolina Humanities Council is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

GT-5010 Grant Proposal Guidelines 032113 ● ●

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