2022 Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize

For Public Humanities Programs in 2021

The Federation of State Humanities Councils is now accepting nominations for the 40th 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.  This is the highest honor awarded to humanities councils by the humanities community.

Throughout its history, the prize has recognized a slate of outstanding public humanities programs from state and territorial councils, and we are thrilled to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Schwartz Prize for Outstanding Humanities Programming this year. The nominating statements have revealed the remarkable evolution of council work, as it expanded from grant-making to council-conducted programming and to other vibrant and creative forms of engaging audiences with the humanities.

Nominations should showcase the best and most imaginative work councils conducted or supported in 2021. (Note: eligible work need not have started or ended in 2021, but could have begun prior to 2021, with the majority of work or the final event taking place in 2021. 

This year, there will be two categories for Schwartz Prizes: Council-conducted projects and Grant-funded projects. Up to three Schwartz Prizes will be awarded across the two categories 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 based on the submitted nominating statement and packet, which should clearly explain why this program should be considered for the Schwartz Prize by highlighting the program’s goals, impact, and financial structure.

For an example of Schwartz Prize ceremonies, watch as members discuss their nominated programs and the 2021 winners are announced at the 2021 Virtual National Humanities Conference Awards Presentation.

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 and successful integration of public and academic programs/audiences
  • Demonstrated commitment to diverse, equitable, inclusive, & accessible programming

The nominating statement should include the following information:

  • The council’s aims in funding or undertaking the project
  • The project’s public impact
  • The project’s financial structure
    • For Council-conducted projects: project budget, funding sources, plans for sustainability
    • For Grant-funded projects: elements of the project funded by the Council 

 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 in .png or .jpg format, preferably via Google Drive 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 2022 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, as well as the past five years of winners and their nominating statements. 

Answers to our Frequently Asked Questions can be found here. All additional inquiries and Schwartz Prize nominations should be submitted to Kennedy McAlister at kmcalister@statehumanities.org.

The deadline for nominations is Thursday, August 18, 2022.