Request for Proposals
RFP Issued: March 15, 2021
Application Deadline: April 23, 2021, 11:59pm ET
Applicant Eligibility: 501(c)(3) Organizations
Project Period: June 1 – December 31, 2021
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 the staff member listed below for support. When contacting us, please include the following in your query:
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Applicants may request up to $5,000. All applicant budgets must show $5,000 in expenses against the grant.
Applicants may submit one project application for this grant program in FY2021.
Please read this request for proposals in full before applying.
Andrea Carroll McNeil – firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us preserve and illuminate the stories of go-go and jazz music in Washington, DC. This opportunity will provide financial resources for organizations to explore, document and present unique research about the rich histories of these two musical genres in the District. Potential projects may focus on individual musicians, bands, shows, venues, fans, recordings, cultural expression, politics, media, historic events, or other themes related to jazz and go-go in D.C. Proposals will describe the project to be undertaken in detail including: the organizing theme, topic or research question; methodology and approach; expected outcomes; and budget. Proposals should also provide a detailed plan for public programming, including an approach to marketing and evaluating the public program.
In addition to a public program, DCCHP Partnership grants are driven by the proposed final product included as a part of an online archive and a public showcase. One of the many things that makes HumanitiesDC’s grant programs unique is the close partnership awarded grantees forge with HumanitiesDC grants officers to ensure that their projects result in an academically authoritative, technically polished final products that will be of continued benefit to students, researchers, and the residents of Washington, DC as part of the DC Digital Museum, a permanent digital archive administered by 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 revisit our practices to ensure they are fair, equitable, diverse and inclusive.
About the DC Community Heritage Project
The DC Community Heritage Project (DCCHP) puts the power of the past in the hands of the local historians who preserve, protect, and live it every day! Since 2007, these small grants have afforded communities, neighborhood organizations, churches, and others the chance to tell their stories through public humanities projects such as written publications, documentary films, websites, lesson plans, tours, and many more.
The DCCHP began as a partnership project of the DC Historic Preservation Office and HumanitiesDC. The project was founded in 2005 to provide alternatives to the “top-down” approach to community history that was placing interpretation of the cultural heritage of District of Columbia neighborhoods into the hands of developers and non-residents. Since its inception, the DCCHP has supported over 200 diverse, local heritage projects, preserving the memories of long-time Washingtonians who have watched their city rapidly change and capturing the unfolding stories of new residents for future generations. These small projects are showcased annually and added to HumanitiesDC’s DC Digital Museum online archive. The DCCHP is funded, in part, by the “Humanities Grant Program”, an initiative administered by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
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)
What are we looking for?
Focus on go-go and jazz – At the root of the DC Community Heritage Project are the philosophies of historic preservation, and the power of music to shape our cultures and our lives. The best projects will seek to explore how go-go or jazz have influenced the very essence and fabric of DC.
Strong scholar involvement – One of the goals of HumanitiesDC’s partnership grant programs is to encourage productive relationships between humanities scholars and the public. All proposed projects must specify a scholar, and how that person will guide the project throughout the grant cycle. Typical scholars have an advanced degree in the humanities discipline most closely related to the proposed project and many have university affiliations, but an appropriate scholar does not always need these credentials. In every case, applicants must demonstrate the scholar has the appropriate expertise to serve in that role on the project and that the identified scholar has committed to working on the project throughout the grant cycle.
Community partnerships – HumanitiesDC was founded in 1980 as the DC Community Humanities Council, and our commitment to encouraging grassroots scholarship has continued to be a part of our grantmaking. All proposed grant projects must demonstrate both how the community will benefit from the project and be actively involved in its creation. As indicated above, rigorous scholarship is an important part of any funded proposal, but the best applications will propose projects that create partnerships between academia and the public.
Educational Product with Lasting Value – Every applicant, even those proposing public events or exhibits, must commit to producing a tangible educational product that can be archived in HumanitiesDC’s DC Digital Museum. This product is the primary expected result of all awarded grants and a crucial part of HumanitiesDC’s goal of building an online repository of films, publications, and other materials related to the humanities in Washington. In many ways, the delivery of a well-researched, original, and eminently useful final product at the end of the grant cycle is what determines the success of the grant.
Eagerness to work closely with HDC Grants Officers – HumanitiesDC grants officers strive to establish strong partnership-level relationships with their assigned grantee “cohort.” Key to this relationship is grantees’ willingness to participate in regular check-in and information-sharing meetings, professional development and capacity-building workshops, and networking opportunities. Grants officers work with HumanitiesDC’s communications staff to promote grantee events and activities, and to seek press coverage for every funded project. Finally, grants officers serve as a sounding-board, giving advice and feedback on project activities and, ultimately, taking delivery of the final educational product.
Other Required Proposal Elements
- Identification of the project’s target demographic, primary humanities discipline, and Washington, DC Ward(s) served.
- A letter of support from the project’s fiscal sponsor, if different than the organization carrying out the project.
- A description of the key personnel who will work on the project.
- A timeline of project activities and milestones covering the full grant cycle.
- A marketing strategy for the project.
- A description of how the project’s performance will be evaluated.
- Audience participation estimates.
- A budget (in a provided template), and a budget narrative.
- A detailed plan for complying with relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Required for organizations with 15 or more full-time employees.)
Cash and/or In-Kind Match Requirement
This grant program requires a 1:1 match designed to help applicants raise funds from non-government, third-party sources. The match may be comprised of any combination of cash or in-kind contributions. Funding from HumanitiesDC, the District of Columbia Government, or the United States Government may not be used to satisfy the match requirement.
Common Characteristics of Successful Proposals
- Will clearly articulate a single cohesive and definitive project rather than a nebulous list of programs or activities that are speculative and/or unconnected to a common theme.
- Will design a unique and creative public program that drives community engagement.
- Will define a clear final product that can be added to the DC Digital Museum Archive and that will be useful to other public humanists and future researchers.
- Will demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter to be explored and the expected primary audience for the project.
- Will list as the Humanities Scholar an individual who demonstrates expertise in the project’s particular subject matter as well as knowledge of the broader humanities field to be explored.
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 the staff contact identified in this RFP.
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 or requiring language translation 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 contact the grants staff member listed on this RFP and allow 1-2 business days for approval of the request.
- Must be a federally incorporated 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 not hold any open grants awarded or administered by HumanitiesDC at the time of the application deadline.
- 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 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 HDC.
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. 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 (3) 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. Fiscal sponsors may not collect more than 10% of the total grant award as a fee for their services.
During the grant period for projects awarded via fiscal sponsorship, the fiscal sponsor organization contact and the project director will both be required to correspond with and submit information to HumanitiesDC’s grants officers. Fiscal sponsors should not be involved in the overall planning or execution of project deliverables – if HumanitiesDC finds evidence during the grant period that the fiscal sponsor has attempted to exploit the fiscal sponsorship policy to improperly submit multiple applications for projects in which they have a considerable stake, the grant agreement may be terminated by HumanitiesDC.
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
- Transcription services
- 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.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access
All 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 15 or more full-time employees must include, in their grant applications, a response to the “Accessibility” section of its grant application that includes the following information:
- 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.).
- 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.
- 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.
For assistance with this section of the proposal, applicants may consult the following documents:
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.
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. The rankings presented by the panelists may be adjusted according to thematic, geographic, and audience diversity by the HumanitiesDC grants staff. Final funding recommendations are sent to the HumanitiesDC Board of Directors for final approval. All panelists, staff and board members are expected to remain impartial as they undertake their respective roles 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.
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 may 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 automated clearing house (ACH) form which is made available through the online grants portal.
Additional Requirements & Information
- Project directors working on each awarded partnership grant will be required to attend an initial kickoff awards ceremony.
- DCCHP grants require a 1:1 match in any combination of cash or in-kind contributions.
- All partnership projects will be supported by a member of the HDC grants team. This HDC consultant or staff member will be responsible for providing support and advice to project directors as well as ensuring that all project work is progressing smoothly.
- The grants staff cohort leaders will schedule several required check-in sessions with partnership project directors over the course of the project period.
- All partnership projects must participate in joint marketing and communications campaigns with HumanitiesDC during the grant period.
- Applicants will be expected to identify the final educational product that will be archived in the DC Digital Museum.
- Applicants will be expected to assign individuals to the following roles:
- Organizational Sponsor – The chief executive or presiding board member of the applying or sponsoring non-profit organization.
- Project Director – The person who will guide the daily operations of the project.
- Humanities Scholar – A person with strong knowledge of both the project topic and the discipline or field.
- Project Bookkeeper – The person responsible for maintaining a record of expenses against the grant award. This person cannot be assigned to any of the other project roles.
- Awardees agree to document all grant expenditures and provide a final report at the end of the project period using forms provided by HumanitiesDC.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Other expenses that cannot be attributed to this grant award include: food or drink of any kind, the production or materials for creative or performing arts projects, and fundraising or membership cultivation events.
- All final products generated as part of this partnership grant opportunity will be collected by HumanitiesDC for inclusion in the DC Digital Museum. Awarded grantees will retain shared, non-exclusive copyright to retain copies, publicly distribute, and publish derivative works based on the materials they collect.