Humanities Guåhan and Ohio Humanities Win Schwartz Prizes for Outstanding Humanities Programming

November 9, 2019 [Honolulu, HI] The Federation of State Humanities Councils presented the 2019 Schwartz Prize for outstanding work in the public humanities to two humanities councils: Humanities Guåhan for its “Taking Root: Growing Youth Empowerment for Island Sustainability” and Ohio Humanities for “Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio,” on Friday, November 9, 2019 at the National Humanities Conference in Honolulu, HI.                                                                         

“This year’s winners reflect the intimate connections the state and US territory humanities councils have with their people,” said Esther Mackintosh, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. “From climate change and sustainability to addiction and recovery, these two programs focused on vastly different audiences and challenges, but were similar in their commitment to address critical issues facing their communities; bringing people together, through the humanities, to acknowledge and respond to their unique needs. We are pleased to present the 2019 Schwartz Prize to both Humanities Guåhan and Ohio Humanities for their outstanding programs.”

This is the first time in Federation history that Humanities Guåhan has won a Schwartz Prize and the second time that Ohio Humanities won. The first time Ohio won was in 2003 for “The Wallpaper Project.” The Schwartz Prize has been awarded since 1982.

About Humanities Guåhan’s “Taking Root: Growing Youth Empowerment for Island Sustainability”

Taking Root: Growing Youth Empowerment for Island Sustainability is a program for at-risk Guam public middle school students, who trace their heritage to Guam, the CNMI, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. This program engaged students in the environments and cultures of Guam and Micronesia through exploratory hikes and field trips; workshops in creative writing, art, and photography; guided intercultural exchanges and projects; Pacific environmental conservation activities and lessons; and workshops and mentoring on youth-led community action. The Taking Root program was comprised of three parts: an immersive three-week summer program on the environments and cultures in Guam and Micronesia, weekly “Youth Community Action Plan” meetings, and a “Youth Sustainability Conference.” Read the full nominating statement here.

Judges were impressed with the council’s approach to youth empowerment, how the program targeted at-risk students, and combined environmental and cultural study in socially significant ways. A judge commented that “this is a council who knows their people and place, and are doing the work that needs to be done in their communities.” Another stated that it was “an original and impressive approach” and “demonstrated high impact with minimal resources.”

About Humanities Guåhan

Founded in 1991 by a group of Guam citizens, Humanities Guåhan is a federally recognized nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting public humanities programming for the people of Guam, providing foundational support and education resources for its island community.  The council celebrates the rich historical, cultural, and social landscape of Guam by offering opportunities to engage in reflection, discourse, idea exchange, and lifelong learning on important issues facing the community for the betterment of the island and its people.

About Ohio Humanities’ “Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio”

Ohio has been among the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. As part of its commitment to engage Ohioans in “Real Conversations about Real Issues,” Ohio Humanities awarded a grant to support Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio. This project included the publication of an anthology of first-person accounts of addicts, their families, first responders, faith leaders, social workers, teachers, medical professionals and others impacted by opioids. Discussion sessions were held in eleven Ohio communities and allowed participants the opportunity to share their own stories and to learn how other individuals and organizations were confronting the crisis. Finally, the grant funded a website,, which hosts discussion guides for community conversation as well as resources, including podcasts, videos, and links to stories related to the topic. The goal of this project is to help Ohioans think critically about addiction, create empathy, combat stigma, and allow participants to share their collective experience and wisdom in addressing the opioid epidemic. Read the full nominating statement here.

Judges praised the council for its “ability to compile the narrative around an important, complicated issue in a way that also helped connect Ohioans to each other.”

About Ohio Humanities

Established in 1972, Ohio Humanities is a private nonprofit organization and the state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ohio Humanities increases Ohioans appreciation and understanding of the humanities through the organization’s grant-making capacity and programs. Operating statewide, the council provides assistance to grant applicants, oversees organization-developed programs, and promotes the humanities in Ohio through collaborations with cultural and educational institutions. It is governed by a volunteer board which makes decisions on grant awards and sets policy.

About the Schwartz Prize and Judging Process:

Each year the Federation of State Humanities Councils awards the Schwartz Prize to up to three councils for outstanding work in the public humanities. The prize is funded through an endowment from founding Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife, Helen. The Schwartz Prize judges are selected from humanities partners, former board members, and council board and staff of the prior year’s winners.

For more information about the Schwartz Prize, please visit:

The Federation of State Humanities Councils:

The Federation of State Humanities Councils (FSHC) was founded in 1977 as the membership association of state and territorial councils. FSHC 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, please 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, please visit:

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