2021 Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize

For Public Humanities Programs in 2020

The Federation of State Humanities Councils is now accepting nominations for the 39th annual Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize, established by former Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife Helen to recognize outstanding work in the public humanities.

Throughout its history, the Schwartz Prize nominations and winners have provided an invaluable snapshot of council priorities and achievements. The nominating statements have revealed the remarkable evolution of council work, as it expanded from grant-making to council-conducted programming and to other strategic forms of public humanities work.

[Listen as members discuss their nominated programs and the 2020 winners are announced at the 2020 Virtual National Humanities Conference Awards Presentation]

Nominations should showcase the best and most imaginative work councils conducted or supported in 2020. (Note: eligible work need not have started or ended in 2020, but could have begun prior to 2020, with the majority of work or the final event taking place in 2020. Programs nominated last year in the COVID-19 2020 special category are still eligible for nomination this year, provided the program did not already receive an award.) Up to three Schwartz Prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges, drawn from the council community and the Federation’s national partners. The judges review the submission packets from the nominating councils and make their decisions solely based on the submitted nominating statement and packet, which should clearly explain why this program should be considered for the Schwartz Prize, highlight the program’s goals, impact, and financial structure.

Nominating Requirements and Recommendations:

Characteristics of programs or initiatives that could result in a prize-winning nomination include the following:

  • Involvement of new audiences
  • Unique or far-reaching collaborations
  • Capacity-building efforts
  • New uses of technology
  • Demonstrated sustainability
  • Creative merge of public and academic programs/audiences
  • Innovative response to COVID-19

The nominating statement should include the following information:

  • The council’s aims in undertaking the project
  • The project’s public impact
  • The project’s financial structure

 Nomination “packets” should include the following materials:

  • Nominating statement
  • Electronic image(s) and brief program description suitable for posting on the Federation’s website
  • Link to program information online (either council, partner, or program-specific webpage)
  • NOTE: Please submit the nominating statement and program description in one PDF. Image(s) can be sent separately, preferably via Dropbox or a similar sharing tool.

Once all submissions are received, the Federation may contact nominees to schedule an interview and obtain optional audio, additional images, or video related to the nominations leading up to and during the 2021 National Humanities Conference. These materials would be used for promotional and archival purposes. 

Please note: by submitting a program to the Federation and Schwartz Prize, you consent to the use of the nomination packet information, images, and content in Federation promotion and publishing. Please include proper photo citations, attributions, and permissions as required of the assets. Nomination packets will be published and shared on the Federation website and photos and information will be used to promote the Schwartz Prize on social media and in other forms of communication unless the use of these assets is explicitly denied by the council.

View the  Schwartz Prize webpage featuring more information about the Schwartz Prize, the 2020 Schwartz Prize winners and their nominating statements: “Library Innovation Lab” by California Humanities and “Vermont Reads 2019: March: Book One” in the council program category; and “Teacher Professional Development Programs” by Humanities Texas and “Cabin Fever Questions” by Humanities Washington in the COVID-19 response category.

All Schwartz Prize nominations and questions should be submitted to Sydney Boyd at sboyd@statehumanities.org.

The deadline for nominations has been extended to Monday, September 13, 2021.