Project Guidelines and Eligibility

Who can apply?

NMHC is authorized to award grants to private, nonprofit organizations, and include institutions of higher education and state, local and federally recognized Indian tribal governments. Organizations or groups that apply for funding must be constituted for nonprofit purposes, but it is not necessary that they be incorporated or have tax-exempt status. Individuals working alone are not eligible to apply for NMHC grants, but may be able to find a private, nonprofit organization to serve as sponsor and applicant. 

Project Guidelines

Projects funded by NMHC should meet the following guidelines:

1) Involvement of Humanities Scholars

Humanities scholars play central roles in all phases of project-planning, presentation, and evaluation. They participate as professional scholars drawing upon their academic expertise. Professional humanities scholars have advanced training -- usually advanced degrees -- in a humanities discipline and are active professionally in the humanities as researchers, teachers, writers, or community scholars. The best public humanities programs involve participation by both academic and community, or organic scholars. Community scholars include persons grounded (experienced) in the humanities, acknowledged/recognized by their peers and their communities, to include (but not limited to) community historians, cultural specialists, tradition bearers, and others working in a non-academic setting.

2) Humanities Content

The humanities are central to activities funded by NMHC. Projects focus on one or more of the humanities disciplines, or on applying the methods of the humanities, such as critical thinking, analysis,and interpretation to current social or public policy issues and concerns. Funded projects might include components which do not involve the humanities, provided they are subordinate to activities which do use the humanities.

3) Balance of Viewpoints

Projects provide a balanced treatment of different viewpoints, especially projects dealing with controversial contemporary issues. Projects are required to avoid advocacy and bias in their overall design.

4) Public Audiences

Projects involve and address out-of-school adults and families as their primary audience. These may, however, include specific audiences such as professional, civic, ethnic, and community groups.

5) Cost Sharing

At least one-half of each project's total cost comes from non-NMHC sources, often as in-kind contributions such as donated services, facilities, goods, and volunteers' time.

Funding Exclusions

NMHC policies and guidelines exclude grant funding for the following types of projects, activities and costs:

• "bricks and mortar" projects such as construction, renovation, or preservation.

• fine or performing arts, though NMHC often funds programs which interpret the arts.

• equipment purchase, although in some cases NMHC may fund a purchase if it is more economical than rental for a project. In such cases, the equipment reverts to NMHC at the end of the project.

• grantee fundraising events or events intended to make a profit

• curriculum development

• "how to" workshops

• professional development

• broadcast quality film or video projects; NMHC will fund films or videos if they are an integral part of another project, such as a video as part of an exhibit or oral history project

• publication, unless it is directly linked to public programs, such as a gallery guide or interpretive program notes

• classroom presentations

• fellowships or scholarships

• research, except as preparation for a public program

• activities taking place before the funding decision by the NMHC Board of Directors.

• projects that advocate only one point of view or one course of action.

• professional conference events intended solely for those registered at the conference; conference events that are open and accessible to the public may be considered for funding.

• costs occurring before or after the grant period.

• costs of meals and refreshments, unless the meals are per diem expenses for scholars or others who must travel from out of town to participate in the project and will have to stay overnight.

• indirect costs expressed as a percentage of other costs to be supported by NMHC funds. That is, if you request $5000 for program expenses, you cannot add a 10% administration fee. However, most of what is normally included under indirect expenses are legitimate project costs: telephone, postage, secretarial support, fiscal support, use of facilities, etc. NMHC funds can be requested for these purposes provided they are itemized and explained; for example, secretarial support for 20 hours at $10/hour.

• administrative costs to cover insurance and retirement/pension contributions must be included in the honorarium figure. NMHC will pay up to $350 in honoraria per speaker for a single public event.

• out of state advertising and publicity costs.

Other Important Considerations

• Any organization that receives funding from NMHC is welcome to apply again only after the current grant has successfully closed. If the program activities described are different from the previous grant the Council will consider it a legitimate request and not a form of repeat funding.

• NMHC will normally fund at least half of the grant request with the balance of the project being supported by Sponsor's Matching Cash and In-Kind Donations, Third Part Cash, or Project Income. A 1:1 match is required for all NMHC funds requested. NMHC grants are funded between $500 - $10,000. The average amount funded by NMHC is $5,500.

• Preference will be given for outreach to new and/or historically under-served audiences, new venues or locations, the participation of new scholars in NMHC projects and/or projects that involve under-represented humanities disciplines.

• Preference will be given to applicants who respond to NMHC Request for Proposals (RFPs).

• Preference will be give to applicants for "targeted strategic programming" instead of "catch-all programming" or for an "add-on" humanities component.

• All grant decisions are made by the NMHC Board as recommended by the NMHC Grant Committee.

Essential Project Personnel 

Any change in the following personnel after approval of your application requires written notification addressed to the Grant Program Officer.

Project Director

The person who directs the planning, implementation, completion, and evaluation of project activities and events. The project director is the primary contact for the project and bears responsibility for preparing and submitting the reports to NMHC. The project director receives all correspondence from the Council.

Official or Sponsoring Organization

A person, other than the project director, with the authority to represent the sponsoring organization. This person signs the application with the understanding that he/she is certifying to NMHC that the sponsoring organization is eligible to receive federal funds and will comply with applicable federal law if funds are awarded. The Instructions for Certification explain what this involves. This person must co-sign agreements and request for payment with the project director. He/she will accept fiscal responsibility on behalf of the sponsor and will file reports if the project director cannot.

Humanities Scholar(s)

Individuals with specialized competence or training in one or more of the humanities disciplines, usually reflected in advanced degrees. NMHC may also recognize as scholars community and tribal elders and historians, cultural specialists, tradition bearers, self-trained humanists, and other humanists working in a non-academic setting who can bring consideration of the humanities to bear on civic and community life.


An independent evaluator (someone who has separation from project goals and objectives and who is not a participant) is required on all NMHC-funded projects. Evaluator must include Statement of Intent form. 

For more information, contact:

Michelle Quisenberry, Senior Program Officer

New Mexico Humanities Council

Tel: (505) 633-7374


EMAIL the Senior Program Officer »

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