Schwartz Prize Frequently Asked Questions

In 1982, the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities (now the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities) won the first Schwartz Prize. In the decades since, the prize has recognized a slate of outstanding public humanities programs from state and territorial councils. We know that 2020 was an exceptional year, and we know that it inspired some outstanding programming, but we also know you might have questions, and we don’t want that getting in the way of a fantastic nomination! 

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.


The Nomination Packet

What needs to be included in the 2021 nominating packet?

The nominating packet should include the following information:

The council’s nominating statement which contains: 1) the council’s aim in undertaking the project; 2) the project’s public impact; and 3) the project’s financial structure

Electronic image(s) with proper attributions and a brief program description suitable for posting on the Federation’s website and for use on social media and other promotional activities

Link to program information online (either council, partner, or program-specific webpage)

NOTE: to ensure receipt of images the Federation recommends using an online sharing tool to link to the images, instead of including images as separate attachments to the nominating email. Examples of these tools include Dropbox and Google Drive.

Where can I find examples of nomination packets?

The Schwartz Prize page on the Federation website highlights past nominations and winners. Please visit the Schwartz Prize page to view examples of nomination packets as well as recorded interviews with past nominees and winners.

When is the deadline to submit a 2021 nomination?

Nominations to the 2021 Schwartz Prize are due no later than Thursday, September 9, 2021.

To submit a nomination, please review the criteria for the nominating packets, including the nominating statement, and send all materials to Sydney Boyd at You have until midnight in your timezone to submit a nomination on September 9, 2021.

Can I submit more than one nomination to the Schwartz Prize?


How will the Federation use the photos and videos used in my Nomination Packet? What do I need to provide with those images and videos?

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 use of these media is explicitly denied by the council.

Program Eligibility

I’m confused, the 2021 Schwartz Prize is looking for 2020 programs? What does that mean?

It means that the majority of the program needs to have taken place in 2020. For work to be eligible, it can have started before 2020 or gone beyond 2020, but most of the work or the final event must have taken place in 2020.

Wait, didn’t last year’s Schwartz Prize accept 2020 programs?

You are right! Last year, to recognize the incredible program adaptations councils made to serve their communities during the pandemic, the Federation included a special category in the 2020 awards (honoring 2019 programs) for programs that were adapted or created as a result of COVID-19. Programs that were nominated for the 2020 Schwartz Prize in this category are also eligible to be nominated for this year’s 2021 Schwartz Prize provided they did not win a Schwartz Prize in 2020.

How do we know if a program we conduct or support is worth nominating for the Schwartz Prize?

Great question! A number of past nominees have told us that their council hosts a staff meeting to discuss past programs and see if any meet the criteria for the Schwartz Prize. We’ve also heard that sometimes a board member suggests nominating a particular program, and sometimes the nomination comes from sharing the Call for Nominations with grantees, who then wish to have their program nominated. Other times, councils have reached out to one another to encourage someone to submit a program they found particularly innovative, impactful, or inspiring. The Federation encourages you to review the criteria announced in the call for nominations to ultimately determine whether you think the program should be nominated. Also, check out this recent interview with our 2020 Schwartz Prize winners who reflect on their experience.

Do I need to be at the Schwartz Prize Awards Ceremony in November to submit a nomination?

While we’d love to see you at the awards ceremony, you do not have to be in attendance. We do recommend appointing a representative to receive the award on your behalf. Please note that if it is funding that is preventing you from attending the National Humanities Conference and the Schwartz Prize, the National Humanities Conference offers support requests to help offset the cost of the conference for eligible attendees.

Award Logistics

When and where is the Schwartz Prize Awards Ceremony?

While we will still conduct a Schwartz Prize awards presentation, due to the cancellation of the 2021 National Humanities Conference, the date and time of the Schwartz Prize will be announced at a later date, but is anticipated to be held virtually in November.

When are the winners notified?

Winners of the 2021 Schwartz Prize will find out during the live Schwartz Prize awards ceremony in November.

I submitted a nomination but can't attend the ceremony, how do I find out whether or not it won?

While plans are still being made for this year’s Schwartz Prize, in past years we have either live streamed the awards ceremony through Facebook or recorded the ceremony and published the video on the Federation’s YouTube channel. Additionally, the Federation reaches out to the main contact on the Schwartz Prize nomination packet to share the official press release, a template press release, and the judges’ statement about the winning program(s) to the Schwartz Prize winner(s).

What do the winners receive?

In addition to a modest financial award, Schwartz Prize-winning programs have typically received increased publicity, press, and national interest. As the nominations are judged by peers and partners, the programs naturally receive increased exposure, and the Federation uses the winning programs to demonstrate council capabilities, reach, and innovation to potential partners, funders, and other supporters.

Who are the judges and how are they selected?

The judges for the Schwartz Prize come from the previous year’s Schwartz Prize winners and Federation national partners or board. Typically, the judging panel comprises an executive director, program officer, board member, and/or partner. The judges for the Schwartz Prize remain anonymous until the Schwartz Prize awards ceremony.

Can I be a Schwartz Prize judge?

If your council received a Schwartz Prize award last year and you wish to be considered as a judge, or you are a national partner of the Federation and are interested in judging, please email Natalie Pak at with your request. All requests must be received no later than Thursday, September 2, 2021.

Award and Nomination Promotion

Can I let my community know that we nominated a program for the Schwartz Prize?

Yes, but we ask that you wait until October before promoting your nominated program. This gives the judges enough time to review and make their decision without the influence of social media or other promotional activities. After October, please tag @humfed and #SchwartzPrize in your social media promotion and forward any Schwartz Prize-related content from your newsletters to Sydney Boyd at

Once winners are announced, the Federation provides a logo, Federation announcement, template press release, graphics, and judges’ statements to the winner(s) to help with promotion and increase visibility of the winning programs.

How does the Federation promote the Schwartz Prize winners and nominees?

The Federation uses the nominated programs in its efforts to increase visibility of the work of the humanities councils to its partners, supporters, funders, and interested public. Throughout the year, the Federation highlights winners and nominees in it’s newsletters, social media, and in conversations with partners to demonstrate the award-winning work and capabilities of its members. We use #SchwartzPrize on social media.

Additionally, once all nominations are received, the Federation may contact nominees to schedule an interview, obtain optional audio, additional images, or video related to the nominations to be used for promotional and archival purposes.

Once winners are announced, the Federation provides a logo, Federation announcement, template press release, graphics, and judges’ statements to the winner(s) to help in additional promotion.

What is the official Schwartz Prize hashtag and what accounts should I tag in our promotion?

So glad you asked! Yes, please use #SchwartzPrize and tag us @HumFed when posting across all social media channels.

Other Questions

Why is the award called "The Schwartz Prize"?

The Schwartz Prize, short for The Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize, was originally established as an endowment by former Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife Helen to recognize outstanding work in the public humanities. While the endowment has run out, the Prize is still supported by the Federation and retains the legacy of the founders’ name.

I still have questions, who do I ask?

For any other questions, please contact Sydney Boyd at