Request for Proposals

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RFP Issued: April 25, 2022 

Application Deadline: June 3, 2022 at 6:00 PM 

Eligible Applicants: 501c3 non-profit organizations

Project Period:

This grant period is for activities conducted between September 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023. Funds MUST be spent by February 28th, 2023 but events may take place on or before April 30, 2023. 



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 Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator at 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 $25,000 depending on the scope of their projects. 

Applicants may submit one application for this grant program for the FY2022 project period. 

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

Staff Contact


 Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator 


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 revisit our practices to ensure they are fair, equitable, diverse, 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.”1 

[i] From the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965 via


HumanitiesDC offers a Festivals and Gatherings grant opportunity to support organizations interested in creating an event, festival, conference or other forms of gatherings that are informative, celebratory, or participatory in nature and promote DC-focused humanities topics for the public. These gatherings create networking opportunities for humanities professionals, a platform for scholars and local experts, and/or a space for people wanting to explore a humanities-based topic or area of interest. This grant is designed to fund the planning and/or execution of an event that takes place on or before April 30, 2023. 

The funding will support in person, virtual or hybrid projects (as long as they comply with local and Federal guidelines). 

The festival or gathering must be open to the public and include some portion of free or discounted programming. 

A successful application will identify opportunities to support programming for Washington, DC communities that will advance, celebrate, and encourage dialogue within the humanities disciplines. 



Funding Scope


OriginalityThe Festivals & Gatherings grant is for the public interpretation of new ideas, and innovative methods of encouraging and celebrating public engagement with the humanities. 

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 Partnerships – 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. 


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.)



Common Characteristics of Successful Applications


  • Will clearly articulate a single cohesive and definitive event with a clear theme and purpose. 
  • Will demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter to be explored and the expected primary audience for the event or gathering. 
  • Will list as the Humanities Scholar, advisor, or expert an individual who demonstrates expertise in the project’s particular subject matter as well as knowledge of the broader humanities field to be explored. 

Cash and/or In-Kind 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. 

How to Apply


The HumanitiesDC grants portal can be accessed at 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 Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator at 

All HumanitiesDC grant applications are only accepted via an online grant portal. Applications must be successfully submitted by 6:00 pm on the day of the deadline. Applicants will receive a confirmation email when their proposals have been successfully submitted. Applicants should contact Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator at 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 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 contact Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator at and allow 1-2 business days for a response. 


Eligibility Requirements


  • 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 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.
  • Must be either planning or executing a program (or representing an organization planning or executing a program if serving as a fiscal sponsor) that:
    • adheres to the summary and description outlined in this RFP. 
    • has 100% of its geographic focus on Washington, DC or one of its neighborhoods. 
    • will occur within the grant period 
    • will have residents of Washington, DC as its primary audience. 

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 HDC. 


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


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: 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 staff will be available to guide prospective applicants through the application process and offer technical assistance when possible. Please see the ways in which HumanitiesDC Staff will offer assistance below. 

  • HumanitiesDC will have a FAQ sheet available on our website at Applicants will have three weeks at the beginning of the submission period to send questions to Tracey Mullery, Grants Coordinator at no later than May 13, 2022. The FAQ sheet will be updated on the website and shared with anyone that has submitted questions no later than May 16, 2022. 
  • A webinar will be held midway through the application period to address questions. The webinar is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended to attend, and additional information can be found on our website. 
  • Virtual office hours will be held to answer additional questions. Office hours are 20-minute one-on-one virtual sessions free and open to the public. Office hours will be offered May 23 – June 3, 2022. To schedule office hours please visit our website at


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 virtually or 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. 

If you, or someone you know, are interested in participating in a review process, please complete the application form on our website at 


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. Awarded applicants are required to submit a W-9 form, and an ACH form which is made available through the online grants portal.


Additional Requirements & Information


  1. Project directors working on each awarded partnership grant will be required to attend an initial kickoff ceremony tentatively scheduled within one month of the start of the award period. The kickoff ceremony will take place in person or virtually. 

  2. Grants staff will schedule required check-in sessions with partnership project directors over the course of the project period.

  3. All partnership projects must participate in joint marketing and communications campaigns with HumanitiesDC during the grant period.
  4. Applicants will be expected to identify the final educational product that will be archived in the DC Digital Museum at the end of the grant period.
  5. Organizational 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/Expert – 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.




  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 * 

*Please note, due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic these requirements are subject to change during the grant period. 

Reporting and Close Out:

Interim reporting: 

  • The interim report will be due November 30, 2022. 
  • Reporting will be completed through the grant portal. 

Close out: 

  • Grantees will be required to close out their grants no later than 30 days after the end of the grant period or March 30, 2023. 
  • The 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.). Reporting will be completed through the grant portal.