Challenge Grants

The NEH offers Challenge Grants—capacity-building, matching grants—to help institutions and organizations fund long-term humanities projects. The matching requirement for most Challenge Grants is three nonfederal dollars for every federal dollar. HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and two-year colleges are offered two-to-one matching grants. Awards can be used for many purposes: to purchase capital equipment and upgraded technological infrastructure, to renovate or construct facilities, and to increase a library’s holdings or a museum’s collections. Challenge Grant funds have also enabled many institutions to fund endowments that might support  an endowed chair at a university or an endowed lecture series. Colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, research institutions, historical societies and historic sites, scholarly associations, state humanities councils, and other nonprofit humanities entities can apply for a Challenge Grant.

A wide range of organizations have made use of Challenge Grants. Some notable projects include the renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lorraine Motel Building, and the development of an innovative humanities curriculum at Bentley University, a school that focuses predominantly on business.   Lewis and Clark Community College in Edwardsville, Illinois, received a Challenge Grant to establish the Mannie Jackson Endowment and Center for the Humanities in 2011, making it one of the first two-year colleges to receive a Challenge Grant.  The center is named for Mannie Jackson, a former owner of the Harlem Globtrotters, whose donations matched the funds offered by NEH. The center will be housed in the historic Lincoln School, which served black children from 1912 through 1951. (Jackson was a student at the school.) Once it opens following renovations, the center will bring together diverse audiences and provide humanities programming through lectures, readings, dialogues, and public service opportunities.

You can find more information about this grant program here. If you have questions, please contact NEH’s Office of Challenge Grants at 202-606-8309 or at challenge@neh.gov. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.

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