Open Discussion Grant

Open Discussion grants are made for public humanities projects that include facilitated discussions along with any other humanities-based project format. Open Discussion grants allow for freedom of form, content, and audience to suit the applicant’s project ideas.

Partly inspired by the traditional Reading & Discussion series, an Open Discussion project may be a series of events, such as a film-and-discussion series; it may be a one-time event that includes active reflecting and discussing; or it may be something different, such as the creation of an exhibit or walking tour along with a discussion. Rather than requiring reading, Open Discussion projects allow for the exchange of thoughts, opinions, and ideas in response to almost any kind of text or other source of content: films, talks, performances, tours, exhibits, lectures, and more. The only format requirements are that there be a source of content and that the project include face-to-face facilitated discussion.

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

Applicants may apply for this Open Discussion grant in order to create a modified version of a Reading & Discussion, Common Good Reads, Literature & Medicine, Family Adventures in Reading (FAIR), or Civil Rights Discussion project. Please contact Abbye Meyer, or Rose Sackey-Milligan if you have questions.

Essentials for Applicants

  • All nonprofit and government organizations that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply.
  • Humanities scholar must be confirmed at the time of application.
  • Applicants may request a maximum of $3,000 or $3,500 (see Open Discussion guidelines (pdf) for maximum amount eligibility).
  • Applicants ensure a minimum of 20 participants.
  • Download and read the Open Discussion guidelines before submitting an application. Full instructions on how to apply online can be found in the guidelines.


  • Discussion Grants deadlines are four times a year and notification is within three weeks of submission. See Discussion Grants deadline chart for specific dates.
  • LOI forms must be submitted online at least two weeks before the application deadline. You may contact Mass Humanities staff or submit an LOI form online at any time.
  • Submit your online LOI form at least ten weeks ahead of your intended start date, so that you can submit your online application at least eight weeks ahead of your intended start date.
  • For guidance in scheduling a discussion project, please see our Discussion Grant Coordinator’s Guide (pdf).

Grant Publicity Requirements, click here.