Virginia Humanities funds public humanities programs in Virginia that are shaped by and significantly involve humanities scholars and/or other community experts. The grant program encourages projects that increase public understanding of important issues and enrich the cultural life of the state, such as:

  • Exhibits—physical and/or online  
  • Films—including script development, pre-production, and production phases
  • Podcasts and radio programs
  • Lectures and lecture series
  • Community forums and public discussions—including book or film discussions
  • Conferences and symposia
  • Digital media projects—including website development
  • Institutes and similar programs for teachers
  • Development of curriculum resources for classroom use
  • Print publications—brochures, interpretive maps, exhibit catalogs, books
  • Oral histories
  • Festivals and interpretive performances
  • Research—leading to programs having a direct public audience
  • Planning

Eligibility

Any non-profit organization may apply for Virginia Humanities grant support, with preference given to those located within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Grants are made to organizations based outside the state only for projects that take place within Virginia’s borders.

Special consideration is given to organizations that have not received a Virginia Humanities grant previously and especially to organizations that are applying for a grant for the first time.

See other restrictions on funding.

Priorities

We are particularly, but not exclusively, interested in projects that address the following themes:

  • Equity and Democracy: Exploring the ways our democratic ideals both are and are not reflected in the histories of Virginia and its communities;
  • Amplifying Virginia’s Stories: Exploring the lives, histories, and traditions of communities who are new to Virginia and/or whose stories have been excluded from previous narratives;
  • Cultures and Communities in Transition: Exploring the challenges faced by Virginia and its communities during times of economic, social, cultural, environmental, and technological change

Goals

Grants and grant making are central to the work of Virginia Humanities. The goals of the Grant Program are:

  • To encourage the development of high-quality education programs in the humanities.
  • To support accessible programs that reach the broadest possible audience in Virginia.
  • To support the work of humanities organizations in Virginia—museums, public libraries historical societies, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations.
  • To explore the stories that define Virginia and its people and address the issues that are most important to communities in every part of the state.

Review Criteria

Applications are reviewed on a competitive basis. Funding decisions are made by the Virginia Humanities Board of Directors.

In making its decisions, the Board considers the following:

  • Significance of the project, including new or innovative approaches and formats
  • Overall prospects for success
  • Use of and contribution to the Humanities
  • Involvement of Humanities scholars including community historians and tradition bearers
  • Immediate and long-term impact on a well-defined target audience, or audiences, which may and generally should include the General Public
  • Past record of the applicant organization, with special consideration given to those who have not received VH grant support previously (or in recent years)
  • Relationship of the project to our established goals and interests, including:
    • Statewide service/coverage (geographic distribution of grants)
    • Diversity of subject focus and organizations funded
    • Reaching previously under-served regions or communities
    • Exploring Virginia’s history, especially perspectives that have been excluded from previous narratives

Meeting any or all of these criteria does not guarantee funding. Each year, Virginia Humanities receives many more deserving requests than we can support, and difficult choices are required. 

What We Don’t Fund

Virginia Humanities Grants may not be used to support the following:

  • Advocacy or political action; programs that promote a particular policy or point of view
  • Creative or performing arts, unless used in a supporting role to enhance discussion
  • In-school programs or projects whose sole audience is children or youth
  • Courses for credit, except those designed especially for teachers
  • Research except to support programs having a direct public audience (an exhibit, e.g.)
  • International travel
  • Refreshments or entertainment; alcoholic beverages
  • Awards or gifts 
  • Meals, other than necessary travel expenses for project personnel
  • Building construction, restoration, or renovation
  • Expenses outside the grant-period and/or the approved budget