ARLINGTON, VA–The Federation of State Humanities Councils will receive a planning grant of $210,000 to partner with Arizona Humanities, Illinois Humanities, Indiana Humanities, Oregon Humanities, and PA Humanities to help communities observe with their library partners the 250thanniversary of the Declaration of Independence in ways most meaningful to their own experiences. The funding to plan the project, Sharing Stories and Listening to One Another: The Declaration of Independence, has been made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [grant LG-255044-OLS-23].

Each of the five councils partnering with the Federation will receive $30,000 for core planning activities and training discussion leaders nationwide. The balance of the $210,000 will allow the Federation to convene these councils and their partners for a Working Group at the National Humanities Conference on October 25 and a March 2024 National Forum in Washington, DC. These events will lay the groundwork for long-term partnerships and 2025–2026 programming, engaging 20+ additional councils to support communities sharing stories and listening to one another.

“The Federation’s community of humanities councils is the perfect partner for libraries to bring people together at public libraries and other centralized locations,” said Phoebe Stein, President of the Federation. “State and jurisdictional councils throughout the nation have the depth and breadth of community partnerships and grassroots public programming experience to build and strengthen long-lasting community relationships.”

“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”

The planning grant will focus on building capacity to both hold meaningful, reflective conversations and train a corps of skilled leaders to guide those discussions. Arizona Humanities, Illinois Humanities, Indiana Humanities, Oregon Humanities, and PA Humanities will partner with public libraries in their communities to engage in difficult—but very necessary—discussions related to U.S. history, the founding, divides, land, and the future. These text-based conversations would include a diverse mix of perspectives on each topic, considering the unique needs of each community. Councils will seek out discussion leaders that represent a diverse range of backgrounds that build trust when listening and talking to other across differences.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. IMLS advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. 

The Federation of State Humanities Councils (Federation) was founded in 1977 as the membership association of state and jurisdictional councils. The Federation provides support for the state humanities councils and strives to create greater awareness of the humanities in public and private life. For more information about the Federation, visit: The state humanities councils are independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations supporting grassroots humanities programs and community-based activities. Humanities councils were created by Congress in the early 1970s and receive an annual congressional appropriation through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which most councils supplement with private funding. For more information about the state humanities councils, visit

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