On September 29, 2015, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) celebrated 50 years of funding humanities programs across the nation. The creation of the state humanities councils in the early 1970’s extended the reach of humanities programs into communities in every state and territory, engaging the citizens in small towns, urban neighborhoods and suburban communities.
For more than three decades, the Federation of State Humanities Councils (FSHC) has worked with NEH to increase the impact of the humanities in public life. FSHC works especially close with the NEH Federal/State Partnership Office to coordinate services to the state humanities councils and to represent their interests within the agency.
In addition, FSHC leads efforts to advocate with Congress on behalf of funding for the humanities. Every March, the Federation organizes Humanities on the Hill, bringing humanities council representatives from across the country to Washington to meet with their congressional representatives and advocate on behalf of NEH and the Federal/State Partnership.
Over the years, the state humanities councils have participated in national initiatives developed by NEH, ensuring that programs developed through these initiatives are shaped to meet the needs of local communities. With small grants from NEH to carry out the Standing Together initiative, councils forged partnerships with veterans groups to create programs designed to help veterans readjust to civilian life and reintegrate into their communities. Councils significantly extended the reach of We the People initiative, which called for council programming to engage citizens in an exploration of American history and culture. Most recently, councils have participated in the development of The Common Good initiative, focused on engaging the public with questions of contemporary and enduring concern.
To kick off the year-long celebration, the Federation staff participated in and helped promote the social media “thunderclap” at 1:00 PM on September 29, 2015. The Federation, along with the majority of state humanities councils, posted comments and pictures detailing why we love the humanities. These comments can be searched on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #NEHturns50. This effort, coordinated by NEH, reached more than three million people and continues to generate lively conversation.