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Mass Humanities Grants

Communities around Massachusetts have important stories to tell and vital issues to discuss. Mass Humanities funds the development of thought-provoking public humanities projects for Massachusetts audiences, bringing people together to explore the history, culture, values and beliefs that matter to communities in our state.

The primary goals of our grants program are to:

  1. Ensure the humanities are part of the Bay State’s social fabric. The humanities thrive in Massachusetts because of its incredible diversity, innovative institutions, and ingenious people. Our grants tease out that excellence, helping nonprofits reach their potential and catalyzing projects that help Massachusetts residents better understand each other, think critically, and bring the wisdom of the humanities to bear when planning for the future.
  2. Uncover new stories and new perspectives. We believe that the humanities are for everyone, but only a limited slice of the population usually engages with humanities programs. To help change that, we prioritize funding projects that engage people with limited access to humanities programming.
  3. Build capacity in small nonprofits and government organizations. Our grantees include community organizations, libraries, town offices, historical societies, museums, and others. Our program officers will work with you closely on project design, planning, and grant writing, helping bring your ideas to fruition.

Mass Humanities grants are made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mass Cultural Council, and the generosity of our donors.

As Mass Humanities supports organizations surviving and recovering from the effects of the COVID19 pandemic, we have shifted our grant making. We will update this page with information and links to our current opportunities. 

Most recently we awarded $251,499 for in Digital Capacity Grants for projects that make the humanities digitally accessible to the public and enable grantees to enhance their digital skills. 

See what we’ve been supporting:

This year, Mass Humanities will not be offering Local History Grants (Research Inventory or Scholar in Residence) and Discussion Grants. We will continue to develop programs and opportunities that support local historical societies and communities conversations.

Mass Humanities SHARP Grants

Up to $20,000

Operating Support Grants

Mass Humanities “Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP)” grants provide operating support to Massachusetts humanities organizations as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of the coronavirus on their operations and the communities they serve. Funding for SHARP grants is provided through the National Endowment for the Humanities by the American Rescue Plan.

Use of funds is targeted in five main areas. Applicants may request funds across all of the five areas described below, or choose to focus their application on one or more category:

  1. Revenue: To help restore operations affected by loss of revenue and/or pandemic closures. Expenses in this category may include, for example, basic operating and maintenance costs such as utilities or supplies, or changes in the type of programming and programming costs.
  2. Staffing: In relation to the effects of the coronavirus, to maintain, re-employ, replace, or hire new full or part-time positions in your organization and/or increase diversity in your staff.
  3. Rebuilding Audiences: To re-engage the communities your organization serves, develop relationships with new audiences, and re-position your organization in response to the effects of the pandemic.
  4. Training: To develop and increase staff awareness and capability.
  5. Organizational Capacity: The organizational capacity category is limited to a cap of $5,000. This category is aimed at rebuilding your organization’s capacity to resolve or respond to issues faced during the coronavirus.

Mass Humanities may make partial grant awards depending on the number and size of grant requests received.


To be eligible for a grant, your organization’s mission and programs must focus on the humanities. Here is how the National Endowment for the Humanities defines the humanities.

To be eligible for a grant your organization must also be:

  • A 501(3) nonprofit tax exempt organization based in Massachusetts.


  • A federally recognized tribe based in Massachusetts.

Your organization will need a DUNS number.

Important Dates

  • The application is online and will be available on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
  • A webinar about the grant application will take place on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
  • The deadline to submit your application is Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at 11:59pm.
  • Mass Humanities will notify applicants of results in mid-September 2021.
Apply Now

Reading frederick douglass together grants

Up to $2,000

Reading Frederick Douglass Together Grants support public readings and discussions in Massachusetts of Frederick Douglass’s famous Fourth of July address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” A group of people take turns reading parts of the speech until they have completed it. Readings can take place anywhere, from virtual spaces to community centers to historical societies and town greens.


All nonprofit, educational institutions, government organizations, or state or federally recognized tribes that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply.

Ad-hoc groups must find an eligible organization to be their fiscal sponsor. Fiscal sponsors are non-profit organizations that manage the grant funds and have signed fiscal sponsor agreements with the group that will host the reading.


  • Applications for 2021 Reading Frederick Douglass Together Grant are now closed. Applications will re-open in 2022.
Apply Now


Up to $1,500

BRIDGE STREET SPONSORSHIPS: Bridge Street sponsorships fund free online programs hosted by Massachusetts historical societies, centers, museums, or historic sites, helping these institutions recover lost income, and enabling free access to the humanities.


All nonprofit historical societies, history museums, and historic sites focused on history interpretation are eligible to apply.


  • Applications open March 1, 2021
  • Grants are awarded on every 3-4 weeks (see guidelines for details)
  • Update 6/17/2021: Mass Humanities will close this opportunity for the year on 6/21/2021.
  • The last date to submit applications is now 6/21/2021.
Apply Now

Expand Massachusetts Stories

Up to $20,000

Expand Massachusetts Stories grants support projects that collect, interpret and/or share narratives about the commonwealth, with an emphasis on the voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized, or have been excluded from public conversation.

Project Formats

Potential projects may include

  • Oral histories
  • Community-centered museum exhibitions
  • Facilitated discussions about underrepresented aspects of local histories
  • Exhibits and programs focused on new interpretations of collections
  • Documentary films or digital media projects that present new insights into the lives of Massachusetts residents past or present
  • Teacher professional development focused on connecting Massachusetts narratives to K-12 curriculum.
  • Programs that use inquiry, contextualization, and/or reflection to support residents in recording and exploring their lived experiences.


501(c)(3) non-profits, fiscally-sponsored associations or filmmakers, state or federally recognized tribes, or non-federal government organizations are welcome to apply. For more details read the grant guidelines.


June 1, 2021, 9am – Letter of Inquiries open

June 22, 2021, 11:59pm – Deadline to submit letters of inquiry

July 1, 2021 – Applicant selection notification

July 30, 2021, 11:59pm – Deadline to submit final application

September 21, 2021 – Award notifications

Apply Now

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