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March Grants Support 18 Humanities Projects

Mass Humanities awards $202,634 to organizations around Massachusetts.

The board of directors of Mass Humanities approved 18 projects at its March 2020 board meeting. Funded projects include documentaries, youth engagement, workshops, and lecture series on topics including Native perspectives, stories of domestic workers and immigrants, and social movements.

 “These projects were approved just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many non-profits to shutdown,” said Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. “The grantees and their ideas are more proof that we’ll need the humanities for an inclusive, successful recovery from this crisis.”

The grants are part of more than $700,000 awarded in 2020 by Mass Humanities. Funding is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mass Cultural Council, and private supporters. Click here to view a list of past grants.

See below for a full list of projects funded.


  • $15,000 to Harbor Voices in Hamilton for “Our Voices, Our Place: Immigration Storytelling in the City of Lynn”, an extensive audience engagement project to bring Lynn residents together to narrate their families’ immigration stories and to use those stories to create an audio documentary and supporting laser show, with further events to inspire deeper reflection on the immigrant experience.

Metrowest Boston

  • $15,000 to Communities for Restorative Justice in Concord for “Voices of Reentry: Community Conversations about Healing the Harm of Mass Incarceration”, a project that empowers recently incarcerated persons to tell their stories and engage the public in conversation about the challenges of life after prison.
  • $2,705 to Historic Newton for “Making Change: Abolition, Activism, and Social Justice from the 19th Century to Today”, a film and discussion series on social movements and justice over the past two centuries. 


  • $10,000 to Forbes House Museum in Milton for “It’s Just Business: The Roots and Consequences of the Opium Trade between China and the United States”, to research and design an exhibit connecting the Forbes family’s wealth derived from opium trading with contemporary debates about the opioid epidemic. 
Lesley University: Centering Latinx Studies Pedagogy


  • $15,000 to American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, for “Self-Evident: Finding Ourselves in the Declaration of Independence”, community readings and a podcast series on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence to audiences today.
  • $5,300 to Gibson Society, Inc., in Boston, for “Women at Work: The World of ‘Domestics’ in Victorian Boston”, a new guided house tour and supporting exhibit panels to tell the story of the domestic workers who lived at the house over its 100 years of occupancy.
  • $10,000 to USS Constitution Museum in Boston for “Enslaved People and Cultivation of Timber Used in Construction of the USS Constitution” to research, analyze and interpret the history of enslaved laborers who harvested live oak for the construction of the USS Constitution.
  • $9,855 to Lesley University in Cambridge, for “Centering Latinx Studies Pedagogy in Humanities Classrooms” through workshops with Lawrence high school teachers who want to bring Latinx history, art, culture and pedagogy into their humanities classrooms.
  • $15,000 to Boston Upstander Academy, Center for Independent Documentary, fora week-long educator workshop on teaching histories of genocide and survival, with an emphasis on Native perspectives.
  • $10,000 to Central Square Theater in Cambridge, for “Act Up and Vote! Festival – Central Conversation and Reflection Workshop.” Funding supports outreach, panel discussions, and training of youth to lead reflection workshops that follow a youth-generated play about voting.

Cape & Cape Islands

  • $10,000 to the Wellfleet Historical Society & Museum for research on their collection of Native American artifacts to prepare for a permanent exhibition on Native American history and culture in Wellfleet before 1620, and to pilot a mini-exhibit and produce programming this summer on the same subject. 
Revolution Happened Here: Our Towns in the American Revolution

Western Massachusetts

  • $11,250 to Amherst Media for A House Built by Hope: A Story of Compassion, Resilience and Religious Freedom”, a project to distribute a short documentary and create a second short film aimed at high schools and focused on how people helped each other during and after the holocaust. 
  • $9,988 to Smithsonian Affiliations/Smithsonian Institution for “Sparking Innovation through the Humanities” for Springfield 1st graders to create a take-home story and activity booklet on invention as a creative process and as local history, with teacher training to use in the classroom for all of Springfield’s first graders when they take a field trip to the Springfield Museums.
  • $9,040 to the Pioneer Valley History Network in Belchertown for “Revolution Happened Here: Our Towns in the American Revolution” to collaborate with local historical societies on a website highlighting items in their collections that reveal diverse, on-the-ground stories of the American Revolution in the Connecticut River Valley.
  • $13,706 to the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding in Amherst for “Erasure and Restoration: An Exploration of Past and Present in the ‘Kwinitekw’ River Valley’s Indigenous Communities”, a community dialog and lecture series on the past, present, and future of Indigenous communities in the Valley.
  • $10,790 to Poetry Beyond Walls, Hampden County Sherriff’s Department in Ludlow, to support weekly classes on poetry for male inmates preparing to reenter society. Participants will discuss poems and write their own, becoming well-versed in a literary form that will complement their work on how to deal with common uncertainties about reentrance.
  • $15,000 to University of Massachusetts, Amherst for “Question Everything: A Summer Philosophy Program”, a free, two-week summer residential program 14 underserved high school students from Holyoke and Springfield, using philosophy to think through the theme of identity and diversity.
  • $15,000 to Insight Productions, Marlboro, VT- with a focus on the 5 Colleges for “Something to Talk About: Five Schools Speak Out about Free Speech”, a pre-production film project to create an 8-10 minute trailer for a feature documentary about free speech on college campuses today.

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