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Grants

Mass Humanities Grants

Communities around Massachusetts have important stories to tell and vital issues to discuss. Mass Humanities believes in thought-provoking public humanities for all audiences that connect us and change how we think about our history, culture and beliefs. Mass Humanities believes that the humanities needs to include diverse authors, stories, and ideas. As champions of the humanities, we amplify the diverse ideas and stories that our grantees generate, through public events and media partnerships.

Through our grant-making we:

  • Expand Massachusetts Stories: We believe Massachusetts needs new voices and fresh narratives to meet our challenges. We support organizations that embrace this historical moment as an opportunity to bring communities together to reimagine stories, revitalize traditions, and ignite new ideas for the future. Expand Massachusetts Stories grants support projects that collect, interpret and share narratives about the commonwealth, emphasizing the voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized or have been excluded from public conversation.
  • Read Frederick Douglass Together: Each year, Mass Humanities organizes and funds free events where communities gather to read and talk about Frederick Douglass’ influential address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” The most celebrated orator of his day, Douglass’ denunciations of slavery and forceful examination of the Constitution challenge us to think about the stories we tell and don’t tell, the ideas that they teach or don’t teach, and the gaps between our actions and aspirations. To quote Douglass: “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the future.”

Expand Massachusetts Stories-Advancing Equity Track

Up to $20,000

Mass Humanities’ Expand Massachusetts Stories Advancing Equity Track grant program will award up to 15 grants to applicants whose projects are led by people from historically excluded communities, and whose organizations meet additional criteria. Selected applicants will develop final applications through a non-competitive review and approval process that includes cohort workshops and application development support with Mass Humanities staff and additional advisors. Proposals not selected into the track that are still eligible for Expand Massachusetts Stories grants may apply through the Open Track.

Track Eligibility:

To be eligible for the Advancing Equity Track applicant’s projects must have leadership roles (such as project director, program director, lead curator, lead designer) for people of color or other communities historically excluded from humanities leadership, and meet 2 of the 4 following criteria:

  • The applicant organization has an annual operating budget of $300,000 or less.
  • The applicant organization has 2 or fewer full time equivalent staff.
  • The applicant organization has never received a grant from Mass Humanities.
  • The applicant organization is based-in and primarily supports communities of color.

Applicants must also meet the basic eligibility requirements for all applicant organizations.

See Grant Guidelines below for more information on eligibility.

Timeline:

  • February 6, 2023–Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Opens
  • March 20, 2023–LOI Due
  • By April 21, 2023–Selection Notification
  • Week of May 8, 2023–Application Workshop
  • June 5 – July 10, 2023–Applications Due
  • Awards Announced Within 3 Weeks of Application Submission

Estimated Number of Grants Awarded:

  • Up to 15

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
  • Short documentary films (15-30 minutes) 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
Apply Now

Expand Massachusetts Stories-Open Track

Up to $20,000

Mass Humanities’ Expand Massachusetts Stories-Open Track grant program offers up to $20,000 for 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.

Track Eligibility:

Applicant organizations must:

  • Be a 501(c)(3), non-profit, fiscally-sponsored association or filmmaker (see below), state or federally recognized tribe, or non-federal government organization.
  • Serve Massachusetts residents.
  • Be in compliance with state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities.

See Grant Guidelines below for more information on eligibility.

Timeline:

  • March 20, 2023–Applications Open
  • Week of April 24, 2023–Applicant Webinars
  • May 22, 2023–Applications Due
  • September 19, 2023–Award Notification

Estimated Number of Grants Awarded:

Typically 30-40

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
  • Short documentary films (15-30 minutes) 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
Apply Now

Reading Frederick Douglass Together

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.

Eligibility:

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.

Timeline:

Grant applications will open December 12th, 2022

Grants are awarded every 2-3 weeks (see guidelines for details)

Apply Now

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