A New Nonprofit Grant Opportunity to Explore Race and the History of Race in South Hampton Roads

This grant initiative is the result of a partnership between Virginia Humanities and The Hampton Roads Community Foundation (HRCF) to address issues surrounding race and the history of race in the communities of South Hampton Roads.

Most grants will be in the $5,000-$10,000 range. This one-time Grant Program is part of a larger, multi-year effort (“Beneath the Surface”) to advance personal understanding and community dialogue, region-wide. Its purpose is to explore the many ways that race has shaped and continues to shape this region and its communities; and wherever possible, to place local history and experience within the broader context of state and national events.

Download the announcement (pdf)

Earlier phases of the “Beneath the Surface” project have included a two-day community residency with Dr. Beverly Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, and the series of community conversations “Unmasking Hampton Roads.”

How to Apply

Applications Open: September 15, 2020
Proposal Deadline: December 1, 2020
Funding Decisions: January 30, 2021
Grant Period: February 1, 2021 – March 1, 2022
Final Reports Due: April 30, 2022

We welcome proposals using traditional formats—publications, exhibitions, community dialogues, audio and video programs, etc.—as well as projects that use public art and other innovative formats to spark discussion and participation, especially those designed to engage younger audiences.


Any incorporated not-for-profit organization serving residents in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, or Virginia Beach is eligible to apply.

Projects eligible for support through this Grant Program will explore:

  • The history of race as it pertains to the South Hampton Roads region and/or its individual communities;
  • The continuing impact(s) of systemic racism, enslavement, legally enforced segregation, the ideologies of white supremacy, and/or race-based laws and policies on the region, its communities, and citizens in the present day;
  • Stories of resistance and achievement against the backdrop of racial segregation, prejudice, inequality, inequity, and exclusion; and/or
  • Concerns of African American people and communities in South Hampton Roads: especially the experience of anti-Black racism.

Applicants are given wide discretion in deciding how these themes can most effectively be addressed in their communities based on local needs, opportunities, resources, history, interests, and concerns.

Virtual formats are encouraged as alternatives to in-person gatherings until the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus subside.

Examples of organizations eligible to apply include:

  • Museums
  • Historical societies
  • Historic sites
  • Neighborhood associations
  • Community service organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Schools and colleges
  • (partial list)

Special consideration will be given to organizations with annual operating budgets of $2million or less. Individuals and for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.

Projects eligible for funding should:

  • Engage diverse audiences and promote open, inclusive conversation
  • Draw on the expertise of local historians and other community members
  • Where possible, involve multiple organizations in the planning process and in the project itself.

Preference will be given to projects that draw on local knowledge and experience and that set the stage or provide a foundation for future programs in the community, beyond the scope of the grant. Preference will also be given to projects that involve local teachers and that serve both in-school and adult public audiences.

Grant Workshops

Two virtual grant-writing / Q & A workshops will be offered:

All prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend. Advance registration is required. Registration will open on Friday, September 25.

Note: Until further notice, grantees must agree to follow Commonwealth of Virginia and/or CDC guidelines for social distancing in all grant-supported activities. Applicable guidelines are those in effect at the time the program or activity takes place.

For further information, contact Virginia Humanities at grants@virginiahumanities.org.