Request for Proposals

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RFP Issued: Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Application Deadline: Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 11:59pm

Applicant Eligibility: Individuals & Organizations

Project Period: 

This grant cycle will be for work conducted between April 20, 2022 and October 20, 2022.

Access Assistance

HumanitiesDC endeavors to make its applications as open and accessible as possible. If you are unable to access any materials on our site, please contact HDC’s grants staff at grants@wdchumanities.org for support. When contacting us, please include the following in your query:

  • Nature of the accessibility issue.
  • The web address of the content you are attempting to access
  • Your preferred format for the content
  • Your contact information

Award Amount

Applicants may request up to $10,000.

Applicants may submit one project application for the FY2022-23 grant cycle.

Please read this request for proposals in full before submitting an application.

Staff Contact

HDC’s Grants Team at grants@wdchumanities.org

About HumanitiesDC

HumanitiesDC is the State Humanities Council for Washington, DC, and local affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Founded in 1980, the Humanities Council of Washington, DC (HumanitiesDC) aims to enrich the quality of life, foster intellectual stimulation, and promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of local history in all neighborhoods of the District through humanities programs and grants.

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to the mission of HumanitiesDC. For 40 years HumanitiesDC has been committed to amplifying the wide-ranging voices and perspectives of the District. As a grantmaking organization, it is our responsibility to justly promote, encourage, and support our diverse community. To deepen our commitment to honoring our city’s rich cultural heritage, HumanitiesDC has committed to revisiting our practices to ensure they are fair, equitable, and inclusive.

What are the Humanities?

Potential projects may focus on: “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 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.” (The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, via http://www.neh.gov)


One of the wonders of our city is just how many various communities make up who we are. Whether it is a particular neighborhood, group of people united by a common experience, or a house of worship with a history as old as DC, each community has a unique yet universal story to share. 

Since 2007, The DC Community Heritage Project (DCCHP) Grant has afforded residents and groups at the grassroots level the chance to capture the culture and narratives of their own communities through public humanities projects, such as: written publications, documentary films, websites, lesson plans, tours, and many more.

DCCHP has funded more than 200 diverse, local heritage projects, preserving the memories of long-time Washingtonians and capturing the unfolding stories of newer residents for future generations. As part of the grant program, these projects are also showcased annually in a culminating event.

Prospective projects will include a:

  • Humanities Focus: Projects must incorporate relevant humanities scholarship with specific focus on one or more central humanities disciplines. Topics should be innovative, unique and/or of a strong interest to a wide audience.
  • Strong scholar involvement: Each project will include a humanities-based scholar, historian or expert as an advisor or partner who is knowledgeable about the relevant field or subject matter and dedicated to helping guide the project to completion. Applicants should demonstrate that the scholar has the appropriate expertise and has committed to participating throughout the grant cycle.
  • Community partnership: All proposed grant projects should demonstrate both how the community will benefit from the project and be actively involved in its creation.
  • Final Product: Each project will conclude in a polished final product like a written publication, documentary short film, website, lesson plan, event, tour or other appropriate product that is well-designed and accessible to DC residents.
  • Eagerness to Work Closely with HumanitiesDC Staff: A strong interest in participating in regular check-in with HumanitiesDC staff, participating in a culminating grant celebration, and information-sharing for the purposes of promoting grantee events and activities as well as HumanitiesDC grantmaking.

This opportunity is part of the Humanities Grant Program supported with funding from the District of Columbia Government through the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Applicants may request up to $10,000, and programming or projects must be conducted by October of the application year.

Other Required Proposal Elements

  • Identification of the project’s Washington, DC Ward(s) served.
  • A description of the key people who will work on the project.
  • A timeline of project activities and milestones covering the full grant cycle.
  • An outreach strategy for the project.
  • A budget (in a provided template), and a budget narrative.
  • A letter of support from the project’s fiscal sponsor, if different than the organization or individual carrying out the project.
  • A detailed plan for complying with relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Required for organizations with 15 or more full-time employees.)

You will also be asked to provide expected audience or program participant data – this is for informational purposes only and is used for reporting to HumanitiesDC’s funders.

Cash Match Requirement

There is no match requirement for this grant opportunity. However, if the project costs are more than the amount being awarded in this grant applicants are strongly encouraged to share other secured and planned funding sources in the Budget and Budget Narrative. 

Common Characteristics of Successful Proposals

  • Will clearly identify the purpose and desired outcomes or impact driving this project.
  • Will demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter to be explored and a connectedness to relevant communities.
  • Will have a clear plan and thoughtful approach to engaging DC residents as co-creators, content providers and/or audience members.

How to Apply

The HumanitiesDC grants portal can be accessed at http://grantapplication.wdchumanities.org. Please be sure to review the grant qualifications, terms and conditions for the program you are interested in before beginning an application. If you or your organization have applied for a HumanitiesDC grant before, please DO NOT create a new account. If you are having trouble accessing your existing account, please email HumanitiesDC’s grant team – grants@wdchumanities.org.

All HumanitiesDC grant applications are accepted via an online grant portal. Applications must be successfully submitted by 11:59pm on the day of the deadline. Applicants will receive a confirmation email when their proposals have been successfully submitted. Applicants should contact the applicable HumanitiesDC staff member immediately should they encounter any technical issues or if they do not receive a confirmation email. Incomplete or late applications or applications failing to meet the guidelines or eligibility requirements will not be assigned to the evaluator panels nor will they be considered for funding. HumanitiesDC does not accept mailed, emailed or hand-delivered applications or required attachments. HumanitiesDC will accept reasonable accommodation requests from applicants with disabilities in advance of the application due date to assist them in submitting grant applications via mail, email, or hand-delivery. To make a request for reasonable accommodation please contact HumanitiesDC’s grant team – grants@wdchumanities.org and allow 1-2 business days for a response.

Eligibility Requirements (Organizations or Fiscal Sponsors)

  • Must be an IRS designated 501c3 non-profit organization.
  • Must be registered with, and authorized to do business in, the District as either a “Domestic” entity (that is, an entity that was incorporated in the District) or a “Foreign” entity (that is, an entity that was incorporated in another state).
  • Must register and comply with the regulatory requirements of the following agencies:
    • District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) – Corporations Division (indicating an “active” business license status at the time of application and agreeing to maintain such status throughout the grant period).
    • District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR).
    • District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES).
    • United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Must be able to obtain a certification of “Citywide Clean Hands” (CCH) from the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue.
  • Must have a principal business office address that is located in the District of Columbia and is accessible to onsite review. Post office boxes will not be accepted.
  • Must be in good standing with HumanitiesDC. Applicants with outstanding or delinquent reports or final products from previous HumanitiesDC grants must submit them completed and without deficiencies at least 30 days before the deadline for which they wish to apply.
  • Prohibited applicants include: private clubs and organizations that prohibit membership based upon race, gender, color, religion, or any other classes identified in the District of Columbia Human Rights Act; for-profit (commercial) entities; political organizations; foreign governments; federal government entities; and District of Columbia government agencies.

By submitting a proposal, applicants certify that they or their fiscal sponsors are in compliance with all relevant eligibility requirements. Awarded applicants may be asked at any time during the grant period to provide proof of eligibility. Any awardees found to be ineligible after the award date will be required to return all grant funds to HumanitiesDC.

Fiscal Sponsorship

Organizations without 501c3 non-profit status may apply through an organization serving as a fiscal sponsor provided that the fiscal sponsor organization meets all eligibility requirements in this RFP. Individuals may also apply through a fiscal sponsor. Under this arrangement, the fiscal sponsor organization takes on all financial and legal obligations of the grant award. Fiscal sponsors may support no more than three grant programs at a time. Applicants applying through fiscal sponsors must use the fiscal sponsor’s organization account within the HumanitiesDC grants portal to submit their application. If the fiscal sponsor does not have an account, an authorized official from the fiscal sponsor organization must create one. 

HumanitiesDC will endeavor to work primarily with the team conducting the project, however, because fiscal sponsor organizations have fiduciary and financial responsibility for the grants they support it will be necessary, at times, for representatives from the fiscal sponsor organization to review and sign off on financial documents or grant agreements. 

Allowable Costs

100% of awarded grant funds must be applied to direct program costs. This may include salary, consulting fees, and/or honoraria for individuals working on the project, but cannot include indirect costs, overhead, rent, utilities, or administrative fees. Other disallowed expenses include: food and beverages, tuition and scholarships, debt reduction, re-granting, costs related to fundraisers and special events, expenses unrelated to the execution of the project, and funding to foreign or domestic government agencies.

Examples of Allowable Costs:

  • Project supplies and equipment
  • Venue rental fees
  • Speaker or scholar honoraria
  • Project transportation
  • Equipment rental
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Exhibit design or construction
  • Project consultant fees

Examples of Disallowed Costs:

  • Office rent, overhead, and utilities
  • General office supplies and equipment
  • Food and beverages
  • Costs associated with the production of visual or performing arts projects
  • Projects designed to be attended or used by a limited audience such as an organization’s membership

Applicants may contact HumanitiesDC’s grants staff with questions regarding allowable costs. Grantees will be required to detail all expenses in quarterly and final reports.

Accessibility and ADA Compliance (Required for organizations with 15 or more full-time employees.)

All organizational applicants must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA provides civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, services rendered by state and local government, places of public accommodation, transportation and telecommunication services. Organizations funded by HumanitiesDC must make reasonable accommodations to ensure that people with disabilities have equal physical and communications access as defined by federal law.

Applicant organizations with more than 14 full time employees must include, in their grant applications, a response to the “Accessibility” section of its grant application that includes the following information:

  1. The process for formulating accessibility plans (e.g., creating an accessibility advisory committee, board and staff disability rights training, budgeting for reasonable accommodation requests, etc.).
  2. The current process/status of an organization’s physical accessibility. If the location is not barrier-free, include in the grant application a plan for project/program modification that ensures access in a barrier-free environment, when needed.
  3. The current progress/status of the organization’s accessibility in presenting activities – communications access (e.g., TDD, large print, or brail materials; audio description or assistive listening devices, ASL interpreted programs, etc.) and marketing/advertising.

In addition to detailed plans for its compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C § § 12101 et seq.), each applicant must demonstrate how the project will be inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible throughout the District of Columbia, beyond participants with disabilities. Successful applications will consider a broad definition of “accessibility” by addressing financial, geographic, demographic, cultural and developmental access. For more information, applicants may access the complete text of the ADA here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/12101. Note that neither HumanitiesDC nor the District of Columbia government represent that this link leads to the latest version of the subject law.

Technical Assistance

HumanitiesDC will have an FAQ sheet available on our website at https://humanitiesdc.org. Applicants will have two weeks at the beginning of the submission period to send questions to the grants team at grants@wdchumanities.org  no later than February 22, 2022. The FAQ sheet will be updated on the website and shared with anyone that has submitted questions. Office hours will be held to answer additional questions. Office hours are free and open to the public, but applicants are strongly encouraged to register before attending. As the office hours are scheduled, the dates, times, locations, and registration links will be available on our website at https://humanitiesdc.org. 

Application Review Process

Qualified applications are submitted to a review panel comprised of Washington, DC residents with backgrounds and/or experience in humanities programming or scholarship. These panelists score the proposals assigned to them based on an established rubric that closely aligns with the questions in the application. After the reading and scoring period, panelists convene in person to discuss the merits and deficiencies of the applications in their cohort and to finalize their rankings under the guidance of HumanitiesDC grants staff and board members. All panelists, staff and board members are expected to remain impartial as they undertake their respective parts in the evaluation process. HumanitiesDC requires that all involved recuse themselves from review of any application that presents a personal or professional conflict of interest, and panelists must sign a statement acknowledging that they will adhere to this policy. 

The rankings presented by the panelists are adjusted according to thematic, geographic, and audience diversity by the HumanitiesDC grants staff and a final slate of proposed projects are submitted to the HumanitiesDC board for review.

Notification and Payment of Awards:

HumanitiesDC will notify applicants of their status (funded or denied) no more than 45 days after the application deadline. Grant award recipients will receive an official grant award letter through the online system which will include a link to submit acceptance forms and to sign the grant conditions. Denied applicants will be given one week to request a summary of panelist comments.

For award recipients, the date of payment is subject to the availability of funds and the processing of required documentation. Awards are disbursed via direct deposit, and all awarded applicants are required to submit an ACH form which is made available through the online grants portal.


  1. Awardees agree to document all grant expenditures and provide a final report at the end of the project period using forms provided by HumanitiesDC.
  2. Successful applicants will be awarded the full award at the beginning of the grant period but will be required to submit quarterly progress and budget reports. Failure to complete these reports according to the schedule may result in intervention on the part of grants staff up to and including a request to return disbursed funds.
  3. Any changes to the scope or budget (greater than 25% in any one category) of a partnership project must be communicated to HumanitiesDC in writing.
  4. Awarded applicants will sign grant conditions that constitute a legally binding contract between HumanitiesDC and the applicant’s organization or fiscal sponsor. The signatory will be legally obligated to complete the project under the terms of the grant conditions.
  5. As of this grant release, grantees (including anyone directly administering the project or program being funded) shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with District of Columbia Covid-19 requirements by either being: (a) fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as defined by the District of Columbia; or (b) qualifying for a vaccination exemption (as defined by the District of Columbia). Due to the changing nature of DC Government requirements please see the Mayor’s Order here for the latest requirements https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/NoticeDetail.aspx?NoticeId=N112383

Reporting and Close Out

  • Interim reporting 
    • Grantees will be required to participate in an interim check-in meeting by phone or in person to evaluate project status and progress. This will take place near the midway point in the grant period, approximately June or July 2022. 
  • Close out
    • Grantees will be required to close out their grants no later than 30 days after the end of the grant period or November 20, 2022.
    • Grantees are required to participate in the DCCHP Showcase Event is currently scheduled for November 2022.
    • A required final report will consist of a narrative, evaluation sheet and financial form requesting a comparison between the original budget to actual expenditures. Also required: an itemized list of all expenditures against the grant, backup for all expenses (receipts, payroll, paid invoices, cancelled checks, etc.), and a timesheet (individual grantees only).
    • As part of the close out, HumanitiesDC may also ask grantees to provide images, video clips, photographs and quotes and permission to use these items to promote grantee’s projects and the overall grants programs.