Request for Proposals
All proposals must be received by Friday, February 1, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.
501c3 non-profit organization
This opportunity is for projects conducted between March 23, 2021 and must be completed by March 23, 2022.
Applicants may request up to $30,000 depending on the scope of their projects.
Applicants may submit one project application for this grant program for the FY2021 project period.
Please read this request for proposal in full before submitting an application.
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:
- 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
Andrea Carroll McNeil – email@example.com
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.”
Help us create exciting public humanities programs for the people of Washington, DC! This opportunity provides resources to community organizations interested in creating innovative interpretations of humanities scholarship for public audiences. Humanities Vision Grants are driven by the proposed final product; each grant will produce an educational resource that will be added to a publicly accessible, online archive.
This list of potential project types is non-exhaustive, and applicants are encouraged to think creatively about how they engage the public:
- Film and Video (applicants can also consider the DC DOCS grant program)
- Websites and other Digital Humanities Projects
- Public Programming/Events
Vision grants are for the public interpretation of new ideas, revelatory perspectives on settled scholarship, the illumination of hidden stories, and innovative methods of encouraging public engagement with the humanities. Prospective applicants should conduct a literature survey and environmental scan to ensure that they are breaking new ground in one or more of these ways.
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.
HumanitiesDC was founded in 1980 as the DC Community Humanities Council, and our commitment to encouraging grassroots scholarship continues 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.
Ultimately, 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.
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.
You will also be asked to provide expected audience data – this is for informational purposes only and is used for reporting to HDC’s funders.
Risk Management and Ongoing Monitoring
Applicants may also submit audited financial statements, a board list and structure, and bylaws to demonstrate their organization’s stability. These materials combined with the organization’s past performance on HumanitiesDC-funded projects will determine whether any eventual award is considered low, medium, or high risk, and will affect the level of ongoing monitoring of the award throughout the grant period.
HDC will assign a risk-level to an award when it is made and will share it with the grantee. The quantity and frequency of reports, check-ins, and site visits will be determined based on the risk-level.
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 Applications
- 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 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 indicated 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 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 a response.
- 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 be producing a program (or representing an organization producing a program if serving as a fiscal sponsor) in the Humanities, as defined here by the amended National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965: “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.”
- Must be producing a program (or representing an organization producing a program if serving as a fiscal sponsor) that has 100% of its geographic focus on Washington, DC or one of its neighborhoods.
- Must be producing a program (or representing an organization producing a program if serving as a fiscal sponsor) that will occur within the grant period.
- Must be producing a program (or representing an organization producing a program if serving as a fiscal sponsor) that will have residents of Washington, DC as its primary audience.
- 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 HumantiesDC 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.
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.
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 officer. 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
- 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 & ADA Access
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:
- 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.
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 Workshops:
HumanitiesDC schedules technical grants assistance workshops for prospective applicants prior to the deadline for each cycle. These workshops may be conducted via live webinars. These workshops, led by HumanitiesDC grants staff, provide information on grant qualifications, grant writing best practices, and navigation of the online grants portal. HumanitiesDC staff will not write applications for prospective applicants but will provide feedback on drafts. To request feedback, applicants must send a request by email to the grants staff member listed on the RFP no less than two weeks before the deadline. The technical grants assistance workshops are free and open to the public, but applicants are strongly encouraged to register via Eventbrite before attending. As the workshops are scheduled, the dates, times, locations, and registration links will be available on our website at https://www.wdchumanities.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 approval.
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
- Project directors working on each awarded partnership grant will be required to attend an initial kickoff awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 from 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Grants staff will schedule 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 at the end of the grant period.
Organizational applicants will be expected to assign individuals to the following roles:
a. Organizational Sponsor – The chief executive or presiding board member of the applying or sponsoring non-profit organization. Applicants submitting proposals as individuals will list themselves as the Organizational Sponsor.
b. Project Director – The person who will guide the daily operations of the project.
c. Humanities Scholar – A person with strong knowledge of both the project topic and the discipline or field.
d. 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.
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 15% 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. 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.
6. 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.
Reporting and Close Out:
Grantees will be required to close out their grants no later than 30 days after the end of the grant period. The financial portion of the final report consists of a form comparing the original budget to actual expenditures, 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). The narrative report consists of evaluative forms for both the project director and the project scholar. These documents and forms are submitted in the HumanitiesDC grant portal. The last part of the report is the final product and any accompanying documentation. Final products are submitted to HumanitiesDC via a Dropbox file request link specific to the grantee.
Failure to submit the report and final products in-full and by the deadline may result in the grantee being made ineligible to receive future funding from HumanitiesDC. Failure to complete the project may require the grantee to return all awarded funds.
This project is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.