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
  • Lectures or lecture series
  • Community forums and public discussions, including book or film discussion programs
  • Festivals
  • Conferences and symposia
  • Media programs: films, script development, videos, television, radio, and digital media projects
  • Publications: brochures, posters, pamphlets, maps, books, journals, and catalogs
  • Research leading to programs that have a direct public audience
  • Institutes for teachers
  • Community history projects, including oral histories


Any incorporated non-profit organization in Virginia is eligible to apply. Incorporated nonprofit organizations based outside of Virginia are also eligible if their project deals with a subject or subjects directly related to Virginia and a significant audience within the state is anticipated. Individuals are not eligible to apply for Virginia Humanities Grants. However, Virginia Humanities does offer residential fellowships to independent and affiliated scholars and professionals working on projects in the humanities.

See other restrictions on funding.


While the grant program is designed to remain as open as possible to new ideas and initiatives, Virginia Humanities funding priorities are:

  • Books, reading, and literacy
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Media and culture
  • Violence and community
  • Science, technology, and society
  • Virginia history

Other specific areas of long-term interest and commitment for Virginia Humanities and its grant programs include:

  • Teacher education programs (especially those related to Virginia’s Standards of Learning)
  • African American history and culture
  • Virginia Indian history and culture(s)
  • Cultures and communities in Virginia
  • Virginia’s folklife and traditional culture(s)
  • Local and regional history


The humanities emphasize analysis, interpretation, and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative explanation of the sciences. The goals of the Virginia Humanities grant program are:

  • To encourage the development of high-quality educational programs based in the humanities
  • To create and support accessible programs that reach the broadest possible audience in Virginia
  • To support the work of humanities institutions and of local community organizations working within the humanities
  • To explore the stories that define Virginia and its people

Review Criteria

Applications are reviewed on a competitive basis. Decisions are made by the Virginia Humanities Board of Directors, in consultation with Virginia Humanities staff. In making its decisions, the Board considers the significance of the project and its overall prospects for success; the involvement of the humanities and humanities scholars in the project; the qualifications and experience of the project personnel; the immediate and long-term impact of the project on a well-defined target audience, which generally should include the general public; and the relationship of the project to the goals and priorities of Virginia Humanities and the Grant Program.

The number and size of grants awarded in any cycle or year are limited by the funds available. Following the guidelines and meeting all the stated eligibility criteria does not guarantee funding. In choosing among equally compelling projects, Virginia Humanities may consider geographic distribution, diversity of institutions and communities to be served, and other factors. Applicants will normally be notified of funding decisions within ten (10) days following any action taken by the Board. Inquiries about the status of proposals during the review period are strongly discouraged.

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 solution or point of view
  • Creative or performing arts, unless they are used in a supporting role to enhance discussion of issues
  • Research or writing unless these are integral to programs having a direct public audience
  • Projects whose primary audience is children or youth
  • Subvention of publications
  • Courses for credit, except those designed especially for teachers
  • Acquisition of equipment
  • Building construction, restoration, or preservation
  • Refreshments or entertainment
  • Meals, other than necessary travel expenses for program personnel
  • International travel
  • Indirect costs
  • Expenses incurred or paid out before a Virginia Humanities grant award is made

For more information on Virginia Humanities Grant policies and procedures, please read the Virginia Humanities Grant Manual (docx).