Discussion Grants

Mass Humanities has six discussion grant options, ranging from open in format and content as long as the project includes facilitated discussion (Open Discussion); to discussion series (Reading & Discussion, Common Good Reads, Literature & Medicine); to the Family Adventures in Reading program with syllabi and set budgets that simplify planning; to the small Civil Rights Discussion grant for the shared reading of a civil rights text.  Some grant opportunities, including Common Good Reads, Literature & Medicine, and the Civil Rights Discussion grant, include access to resources developed by Mass Humanities to help with discussion and content.

All nonprofit and government organizations that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply.

In general, Mass Humanities prioritizes funding projects that engage those whose contact with humanities programming is limited (see our Engaging New Audiences initiative) and programming that responds to our current theme, Negotiating the Social Contract.

Open Discussion

Open Discussion grants allow for freedom of form, content, and audience for public humanities projects. An Open Discussion project could be a series; a one-time event that includes active reflecting, thinking, and discussing; or the creation of a humanities resource, such as a walking tour or exhibit, along with discussion. Open Discussion grants allow for the creation of content and discussions in response to almost any kind of text (or other source of content): films, talks, performances, tours, exhibits, competitions, lectures, and more. All Open Discussion projects involve a humanities scholar as a facilitator or planner.  DETAILS

Civil Rights Discussion

Inspired by Mass Humanities’ public readings of “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass, Civil Rights Discussion events are public readings of civil rights speeches or other short writings, often followed by facilitated discussions on race, rights, and the lasting legacy of American slavery. Generally, participants first take turns reading a speech or selection, and then they participate in the discussion. Civil Rights Discussion events involve a humanities scholar as a facilitator or planner.  DETAILS

Reading & Discussion

Reading & Discussion series generally have between four and six sessions, each focused on a book or other written text that participants read in advance. All Reading & Discussion series are facilitated by humanities scholars.  DETAILS

Common Good Reads

Common Good Reads series are discussion series focused on consideration and discussion of on notions of “the common good,” aimed especially, but by no means exclusively, at engaging adults with limited or no access to public humanities programming. All Common Good Reads series are facilitated by humanities scholars and fit into the Negotiating the Social Contract initiative. Common Good Reads is a part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative in 2016, and each Common Good Reads series includes Pulitzer Prize-winning material, of which we encourage the use of journalism.  DETAILS

Literature & Medicine

Literature & Medicine: Humanities, Health, & Healthcare discussion series focus on humanities-based ideas and issues surrounding health and healthcare.  In sessions facilitated by humanities scholars, participants read, view, or experience literature, art, or media productions centered around illness, wellness, identity, death, and care. Mass Humanities provides resources, such as syllabi and a limited supply of books, that may simplify planning.  DETAILS

Family Adventures in Reading (FAIR)

FAIR discussion series focus on active engagement with books and ideas, centered on scholar-chosen picture books for children ages 6-10 and their caregivers. They are facilitated by trained FAIR Storytellers who use predetermined syllabi. Aimed at underserved audiences, FAIR series serve families in their neighborhoods—at public libraries, community centers, and other community spaces—and often fit into the Engaging New Audiences initiative. Note: This discussion grant option is on hold until further notice. (5/16/17) DETAILS


See grant deadlines page.


Humanities scholars interested in facilitating discussion projects should complete our Scholars Participation Form.