Who We Are

About Us

Founded in 1980, HumanitiesDC is one of 56 state councils supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities to ensure the humanities are available to all. We believe the humanities (history, literature, language arts, ethics, philosophy and arts appreciation) are a powerful tool to help all Washingtonians, and others connected to the District of Columbia, deepen their relationships with the city and each other through the sharing of unique and universal stories, the fostering of intellectual stimulation, and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding. By increasing understanding and appreciation, we help build more equitable, thriving and rich communities in Washington DC. Every year, HumanitiesDC does this work by using community-informed grantmaking to invest in local scholars, experts, and organizations, as well as engaging all residents through partnership-based public programming.

Our Working Definition of Humanities

Our work and areas of focus are guided by a definition offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which states:

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

Our Guiding Stars

In 2022, HumanitiesDC identified five main values, selected to help us navigate our internal decision-making processes, external relationships, and community programs.


Equity Driven

We strive to center equity principles across our organization, internally and externally. This focus helps us broaden access, inclusion, and diversity in all our work to create structures that share power and core decision-making.


Community Powered

As an organization based in the humanities, we recognize that our work would not be possible if not for the strength and experiences of all the people who make up our city. Our aim is to build authentic relationships and collaborations that reflect the vibrancy of our community.


Creative vision

We relish opportunities to venture into unexplored territory. We strive to bring a creative and entrepreneurial spirit into our collective work with the hopes of continuing to explore how the humanities can act as a connector across all our lives.


Amplifying voices

We seek to use the power and resources made available to us to create spaces and opportunities to celebrate and share Washington, DC stories, culture, and experiences, especially those traditionally marginalized or left out of mainstream narratives.


Acting with integrity

We are a curious group, excited to always better our grantmaking, public programs, internal culture, and community partnerships. We strive to be reflective, accountable, and ever-learning as we foster transparency across our organization and build mechanisms for feedback.

Strategic Plan + Financial Statements

In addition to our guiding values, our Strategic Plan outlines six goals to focus and direct our efforts from 2023-2024. This plan was created by a team of board and staff members, and incorporates feedback from our participants and partners.

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