Grants FAQ

What are typical formats of programs/projects funded by HI?
  • Literary reading/discussion or lecture/discussion programs led by at least one scholar
  • Discussion/interpretation programs focused on the showing of films, performances, videotapes/DVDs, and exhibits
  • Video documentaries: all phases, but generally not the post-production phase unless an earlier phase was supported by an HI grant
  • Radio programs that reach large audiences
  • Scholar-led walking tours and accompanying interpretive brochures
  • Seminars, symposia and workshops led by a scholar
  • Museum exhibitions: research, design, and/or implementation with an emphasis on interpretive materials and public programs
  • Oral history projects that involve a community and result in the production and distribution of materials (publications, tapes, videos, exhibits) to the general public
  • Living history programs that reflect scholarly contributions and are presented or organized by a humanities scholar
  • Arts programs that place works in their historical, political or social context
  • Web design projects with scholarly input that bring humanities content to the public
What are some currently eligible but non-prioritized projects?
  • Organization of archival materials for publication and distribution
  • Computerization/digitization of inventories, catalogs or archival materials
  • Projects from organizations with a mission of entertainment or recreation
  • Programs directed to a limited and/or specialized audience, such as annual retreats and professional development training
How can I find a scholar for my project?

Contact your local college or university, library or museum. You can also contact the HI office for help in finding a scholar for your topic. Another resource is the HI Speakers Bureau roster, posted on the HI web site. Members of the HI board of directors might also be able to help identify a scholar for your project.

An independent evaluator is a requirement of an HI major grant, and a fee of $200 plus auto travel expenses can be paid out of the grant funds. Ideally the evaluator will be familiar with and traveling within the community in which the HI-funded event is to be held.

Does the project director need to be a scholar?

No, but a scholar should definitely be on the planning committee and program presenters should have appropriate credentials.

What are appropriate honorarium levels for project personnel?

HI grants can support the time and expertise of presenters, researchers, coordinators and others integral to the project. The level of honorarium is based on precedent for similar events, the actual number of hours/events devoted to the project by the scholar, his/her availability and public demand.

What about dance, theater and art projects?

It is critical to consult with HI staff about these types of projects prior to application. Typically, HI will not fund performance projects unless they incorporate the interpretation of the performance through a complementary lecture and/or discussion with the audience. For example, if a Scottish highlander group will dance and also explain the history and cultural meanings of bagpipes, traditional dress and the dance steps, the project may be eligible. If a museum hosts an art exhibit and would like to bring in scholars to talk about that particular art movement, that project may also be eligible. Theater presentations that involve living history re-enactments (such as someone portraying the life and times of Grant Wood or Charles Darwin) may also be considered for funding.

Why are the project start and end dates important?

No HI grant funds can support activities occurring prior to the project start date. The length of the grant-funded portion of projects can extend to a maximum of two years from the start date. Additionally, HI’s reporting deadlines are tied to the project end dates.

Can staff salaries be included in the Humanities Iowa Grant Request Column of the Budget Form?

As Humanities Iowa funding is limited, we would prefer to pay the direct costs of a project. If, in special circumstances, a staff member is involved in the creative, scholarly, public presentation of the project, a reasonable honorarium may be included in the project expenses. Salaries should, if included at all, be in the cash cost-share for the applicant organization or in-kind cost-share for any co-sponsoring organizations.

What criteria are used to review and evaluate applications?

Primary considerations:

  • The content of the project—activities should be centered in one or more of the humanities disciplines
  • Focus—the project has a clearly identified focus provided by a topic or text that is analyzed and discussed using the content and methodology of the humanities
  • Humanities methods—critical thinking and interpretation should be evident throughout the program
  • Audience interest—project topics and formats should stimulate the interest of participants
  • Audience engagement—members of the public should be encouraged to engage in critical thinking and interpretation through project activities that promote disciplined dialogue between and among project participants and audiences
  • Scholar accessibility—scholars in public humanities projects should interact with non-scholar members of the public

Other important considerations:

  • Geographic location and the frequency of HI projects in that area
  • Performance history of previous HI-funded projects from applicant organization and frequency of HI grants to that organization
  • Repeated funding—whether the same activity has received repeated funding from HI
  • The importance of the project to the people of Iowa
  • The size or composition of the intended audience
  • Diversity—whether minorities, women and people with disabilities are appropriately included both in project planning and implementation