Grants Guidelines and Information

Humanities Iowa (HI) collaborates with communities, non-profit organizations, and humanties scholars in Iowa to further the humanties across the state of Iowa. 

We support programming through major grants, mini grants, partnerships, as well as our Speakers Bureau. We place particular emphasis on supporting interactive projects and conversations that engage rural communities, diverse cultures, and individuals in Iowa whose stories have not yet fully been told. Each year we serve over 250,000 Iowans. We are dedicated to sharing and supporting the humanities with all Iowans, and to bringing the humanities to life.

Who Can Apply

Grants are awarded to not-for-profit organizations that serve the out-of-school Iowan adult public and families. We prioritize funding projects that engage diverse audiences, elevate the perspectives of under-represented communities, and connect people with the rich histories of Iowans. 

Eligible organizations may include:

  • Incorporated non-profit groups
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Units of Federal, State, and Local governments
  • Native American tribal governments
  • Groups of persons that form an associate to carry out a project

An organization does not have to be incorporated as a nonprofit or have tax-exempt status to be eligible for Humanities Iowa grants, but for-profit organizations and activities are ineligible.

Types of Grants
Mini grants (award amounts up to $3,000)

A mini grant is for organizations seeking funding for amounts up to $3,000. Applications are accepted year-round and are evaluated upon receipt. We prefer to receive mini grant applications at least four weeks before the start date of the project, but we can sometimes accommodate shorter deadlines.

Applications can be submitted online.

A1:1 cash or in-kind match is required.

Major grants (award amounts from $3,001 to $10,000)

A major grant is for organizations seeking funding for amounts up to $10,000.

Summer major grant applications have a deadline of May 1

Grants are awarded in mid-June. Projects should begin after July 1.

  • Grants are awarded in mid-June
  • Projects should begin after July 1

Fall major grant applications have a deadline of October 1.

Grants are awarded in late-October. Projects should begin after December 1.

  • Grants are awarded in late-October
  • Projects should begin after December 1

Electronically submitted applications should be submitted no later than midnight of the deadline. Mailed submissions should be postmarked no later than the date of the deadline.

A 1:1 cash or in-kind match is required.

What These Grants Fund

Humanities Iowa (HI) grants fund humanities programming that engages communities, non-profit organizations, and humanities scholars in the crucial stories that have shaped and are shaping our state of Iowa and the nation. These stories are to be shared in public settings and may include, but are not limited to, symposia, community storytelling events, a cultural discussion series, exhibitions, post-performance/film conversations, and, rural archives preservation for public access. In our grant selection process, we are especially interested in funding projects that make new stories heard, that support rural communities, that bring out elements of Iowa that are distinctive to our state, and that engage new groups in receiving HI funding for the first time.

What These Grants Do Not Fund

Salaries and fringe benefits – We cannot support salaries or fringe benefits for permanent or temporary employees. Organization staff may be paid honoraria for project work under certain circumstances (see FAQ for more information).

International travel – Travel expenses are not allowable if incurred outside of the U.S., its territories and possessions, or Canada.

Recreation and food – Costs related to amusement, social activities, and entertainment will not be funded.

Performances in the creative and performing arts, unless they contribute to or provide humanities perspectives. Living history re-enactments, for example, are eligible (see FAQ for other examples).

Commercial enterprises – The applicant organization must be a not-for-profit organization, although tax-exempt status is not required.

Individual or personal research, unless the research is integral to a proposed project’s public program.

The writing or publication of books –  However, a publication generated as the result of a public program is allowable.

Curriculum design or review

Academic courses, scholarships, fellowships


Capital projects (“bricks and mortar”) – We do not support the purchase or restoration of capital equipment, land, buildings, museum or library acquisitions, or the like.

Political activities – HI cannot consider funding any project advocating, lobbying for, or funding any particular political or social party, ideology, or action.

Fundraising activities – HI cannot fund telephone solicitation, fundraising events, or professional fundraiser fees.

Programs not open to the public – Reasonable admission may be charged to help cover direct project costs. University and college applicants must clearly demonstrate an attempt to reach the general public through content, format and promotional plans

Programs primarily for children or student audiences – Inter-generational programs (for students and parents, for example), may be considered for funding, however.

Projects by applicant organizations with active Humanities Iowa grants –  This includes grants with complete project activities but incomplete/unsubmitted final fiscal and evaluative reports.

Pre-award expenses – We do not support project costs incurred before the grant is awarded.

Indirect costs – Grant funds may be applied only to direct costs of the project. Overhead or facilities and administrative costs may be included in the project only as part of cost-sharing, using the applicant’s normal institutional rate. The costs related to meeting COVID guidelines may also be included as part of cost-sharing. 

Grant Requirements
  • All grants have a matching requirement. The applicant organization must contribute or generate support for the project that at least equals the grant request. This support could be in the form of cash contributions or in-kind support from third parties, such as volunteer time or donated space for programs. Grants may also be awarded as challenge match grants requiring documentation of match.
  • Projects must involve a humanities scholar to support the humanities components of a project as well as to learn with you in partnership. Humanities scholars have particular training or experience, usually with an advanced degree (M.A. or Ph.D.) in a humanities field of study. If useful, HI will be able to connect interested groups and individuals with humanities scholars who would be interested in working with you in this capacity. Humanities scholars should be included in the planning of the proposal as well as the execution of funded projects.
  • Grants may be awarded as an outright award or conditionally, with requirements to be filled prior to final approval of award.


Have Questions?

Humanities Iowa staff welcomes the opportunity to consult with applicants on proposals by telephone or e-mail.

Please contact Heather Plucar, Grant and Finance Director, at or at (319) 335-4150.

We will work with you to strengthen the application and answer questions.

If you would like to submit a draft proposal for critique, please do so several weeks before the deadline and we will help you refine the document before you submit a final version.

Guidelines for Media Projects

Humanities Iowa recognizes that media projects can serve as a powerful tool for fulfilling our mission to foster greater public awareness of and appreciation for the value of the humanities

Guidelines for Teacher Seminars

Humanities Iowa will consider proposals from colleges, universities, area education agencies and school systems for planning and conducting seminars in the humanities for elementary, secondary and post-secondary teachers.

Conditions of grant awards

Responsibilities you will be required to accept if you are awarded a grant from Humanities Iowa.

grants administration

PDFs of guidelines and forms for administering your grant from Humanities Iowa.