The humanities sustain us

Early in the pandemic, humanities councils demonstrated their central role in supporting our country’s humanities infrastructure, pivoting quickly and effectively to make more than 4,200 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) grants totaling $30 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support local and community cultural organizations in their programming and operations. In fact, since 2020, through a Congressional appropriation and partnership with the NEH, our member humanities councils have distributed nearly $82 million of CARES and Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) grants across states, DC, and jurisdictional territories–and the work continues.


Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) grants

$82 million

of CARES and SHARP grants distributed

The humanities preserve and nourish our nation in times of strife and harmony

Humanities councils are responding to climate disasters, supporting marginalized communities, and reaching across the rural/urban divide. By supporting cultural programming and community institutions like museums and libraries, humanities councils enrich the quality of life. Our members also leverage the federal funding they receive with support from corporations, foundations, individuals, and state governments — on average leveraging $4 for every $1 received in federal support.

  • Councils support innovative programs that help veterans reintegrate into their communities.
  • Councils promote knowledge and appreciation of local, regional, and national history and heritage by supporting discussion forums, exhibits, documentary films, online encyclopedias, and oral history projects.
  • Councils foster early childhood education through family literacy programs that support children’s future educational and economic success, strengthen family ties, and increase parents’ job prospects by improving their reading skills.
  • Each year, humanities councils deliver high-quality grassroots programming to more than 6,000 rural and urban communities throughout the nation.
  • Councils promote K-12 education by providing online resources for students, summer institutes, weekend workshops, and other professional development programs for teachers.

Current Advocacy Efforts

FY 2024 Advocacy

In 2022, the Federation facilitated an united funding request to Congress from the humanities community to provide at least $204 million for the NEH for FY23 and $64 million for the state and jurisdictional humanities councils, who support local and community cultural organizations nationwide. These funds help provide resources to bring communities together throughout the pandemic, strengthen civic education about our democracy, connect tens of thousands of new program participants each year, and assist in our recovery as a nation.

We were excited to see the results of our advocacy efforts last year resulted in an historic increase in the federal appropriation for NEH and the humanities councils: $207 million for NEH and $65 million for the state and jurisdictional humanities councils. During the current FY24 appropriations process, we are working to realize another meaningful increase for the humanities community.

United States Capitoll Building in Washington DC in Autumn with reflecting pool

Humanities on The Hill

While our members and the Federation advocate throughout the year, our March Humanities on the Hill is the only time where the public humanities council community comes together in Washington, D.C., to collectively advocate for federal funding for the NEH. The NEH supports humanities organizations and scholars nationwide, and the Federal/State Partnership, which is an office within NEH, directly supports the humanities councils.

Princeton University, NJ, USA. Shot on Oct 25, 2018. Shot at dawn, the long cobblestone paths leading up to the Princeton square has an eerie quiet that can stimulate any academic.

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