Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, now simply known as Mass Humanities, was established in 1974 as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), we are an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources.

Mass Humanities’ Program Priorities

Mass Humanities seeks to fund and support projects that engage those whose contact with humanities programming is limited (Engaging New Audiences for the Humanities) and/or that respond to our current theme (Negotiating the Social Contract).

  • Engaging New Audiences: We work to reach communities in Massachusetts whose access to the humanities has been limited due to social, economic, educational, or geographic circumstances. This priority has been given tangible expression in our “Inspire” endowment campaign, which seeks to sustain and extend our work to new and underserved communities across the Commonwealth.
  • The Vote: Exploring voting rights in America: Our newest priority inviting grant applications for programs that explore the many dimensions of voting rights in America, using the lens of history, literature, philosophy, jurisprudence, identity-based studies, or any other humanities discipline. “The Vote” grant opportunity is available as part of the fall 2019 Project Grant round and the winter 2020 Discussion Grant round.

In general, Mass Humanities prefers to support projects that:

  • use the humanities to deepen public understanding of current social, political and economic issues;
  • involve collaboration among humanities institutions and other types of institutions and agencies, both public and private (e.g. hospitals, prisons, social service agencies).
  • foster connections across disciplines, among different bodies of thought, or between past and present.

Mass Humanities Governance

Mass Humanities is governed by a volunteer board of 25 directors who reflect the social and geographic diversity of Massachusetts. Approximately half the board represents the general public (business, labor, the professions, cultural affairs, and community life) and half are humanities professionals (college faculty, K-12 teachers, independent scholars, museum and library professionals, and writers). Six directors are appointed by the governor.

The Mass Humanities board regularly reviews and updates the strategic plan for the organization. Download the brief overview of the current strategic plan.

Mass Humanities welcomes nominations of qualified individuals to serve on its board of directors. Candidates must live or work in Massachusetts and believe in the importance of the humanities and their relevance to contemporary life. If you would like to nominate someone, or are interested yourself, please read the nomination information.