Promotion of the Humanities Challenge Grants


To strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by supporting infrastructure development and capacity building. For awards up to $500,000, there is a 3:1 matching requirement; awards in excess of $500,000 require a 4:1 match. Eligible community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education, and Tribal Colleges and Universities, are required to raise the same amount as the federal award in new donations from third-party non-federal sources.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
National Endowment For The Humanities, National Foundation On The Arts and The Humanities
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2018 Past recipients of Humanities Challenge Grants may be found by using the NEH's Funded Projects Query Form available online at
National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, as amended, Public Law 89-209, 20 U.S.C. §956 et seq.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
U.S. public and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations (including institutions of higher education), state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments. The following eligible entities are subject to the one-to-one matching requirement: public and 501(c)(3) nonprofit community colleges and post-secondary two-year institutions of higher education; public and nonprofit 501(c)(3) U.S. historically black colleges or universities, as defined by Executive Order 13532; public and nonprofit 501(c)(3) Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education; and U.S. tribal college or university, as defined by Executive Order 13270.
Beneficiary Eligibility
All applicant organizations and institutions and all users of their humanities resources, programs, or activities; humanities scholars, and the general public.
Eligible HBCUs are those included in the current U.S. Department of Education's "Accredited HBCU listing." Eligible Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education are those listed in the current U.S. Department of Education's "Eligibility Matrix." Eligible tribal colleges or universities must be included in the U.S. Department of Education's "list of Tribal Colleges and Universities."
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. An environmental impact assessment is required for this listing. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 16 USC §470f, and its implementing regulations, 36 CFR Part 800, require NEH to consider the effects of projects awarded NEH funding on historic properties, and when applicable, to provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) an opportunity to comment on such projects prior to the expenditure of Federal funds. Other pre-application coordination is not required, but preliminary discussion with Endowment staff and the submission of a draft application at least six weeks before the deadline are strongly encouraged.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Applications to NEH must be submitted via Additional application information is available online at
Award Procedure
NEH staff review applications for eligibility and completeness. NEH uses a peer review process to evaluate all eligible and complete applications. Peer reviewers are experts in the field with relevant knowledge and expertise in the types of project activities identified in the applications. NEH instructs reviewers to evaluate applications according to the review criteria outlined in this Notice of Funding Opportunity. Peer reviewers must comply with Federal ethics and conflicts of interest requirements. NEH staff comments on matters of fact or on significant issues that otherwise would be missing from peer reviews, then makes recommendations to the National Council on the Humanities. The National Council meets three times per year to advise the NEH chairman. The chairman considers the advice provided by the review process and, by law, makes all funding decisions.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
More than 180 days. Seven months (approximately 210 days) after the deadline
Not applicable.
More than 180 days. Eligibility to apply for a subsequent award begins in the third year after the close of the previous Challenge grant.
How are proposals selected?
To reach decisions about funding, all reviewers of Challenge Grants applications are asked to evaluate the existing and potential quality of an applicant's programs in the humanities, its needs, management, and fund-raising capability. In light of the goals of the Challenge Grants Program, reviewers assess each application in accordance with the following criteria: (1) the significance of existing and planned humanities activities; (2) the audience served; (3) the appropriateness of institutional resources and plans; (4) the impact of challenge grant funds; and (5) the feasibility of fund raising.
How may assistance be used?
These awards enable organizations to increase their humanities capacity through capital expenditures to support the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities and the purchase of equipment and software. Such expenditures bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly. Eligible activities include the preservation and conservation of humanities materials, and the sustaining of digital infrastructure for the humanities. Challenge grants may also support the purchase of equipment and software; the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities needed for humanities activities; and collections sharing. Such expenditures bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly. Up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
Records include financial documentation on all matching gifts and on all expenditures of Federal and matching funds. All records must be retained for three years following submission of the final financial report.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching is mandatory. - Recipients must raise non-federal third-party funds of three times the amount of federal funds offered for grants up to $500,000, and four times the amount of federal funds offered for grants in excess of $500,000. For example, a $500,000 grant requires a $1.5 million match; a $600,000 grant requires a $2.4 million match. HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education, and eligible community colleges are required to match federal funds on a one-to-one basis.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
From one to six years. Funds must be expended during the period of performance. All NEH Challenge grants are matching funds awarded on an annual basis and released when the recipient has certified the required matching gifts. See the notice of funding opportunity for additional information.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
None/Not specified.
Headquarters Office
National Endowment for the Humanities, Challenge Grants
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506 US
Phone: (202) 606-8309.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Project Grants) FY 18$4,776,710.00; FY 19 est $9,194,550.00; FY 20 Estimate Not Available FY 17$7,414,400.00; FY 16$8,836,549.00; - FY19 obligations include awards made but not fully processed.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Applicants may request up to $750,000. In fiscal year 2017, the largest award offered was $338,000, the smallest was $1,500; and the average award was approximately $72,240.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
45 CFR 1100 and 1105. Guidelines are available online at and upon request from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC 20506. Available from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, is the Endowment's official publication, "Humanities" by subscription (6 issues annually, $24.00 domestic, $30.00 foreign).
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2019 Past recipients of Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge grants may be found by using the NEH's Funded Projects Query Form available online at


Federal Grants Resources