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Short Documentaries

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, and IHEs for Short
Humanities-Themed Documentary Films

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Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Division of Public Programs

Deadline Date:

08/14/19 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, local, state, and tribal government agencies, and IHEs to produce and distribute short humanities-themed documentary films and film series. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. Projects that provide free access to the public, as well as those addressing themes related to the Nation's 250th Anniversary, are given priority.

The Short Documentaries program supports the production and distribution of documentary films up to 30 minutes that engage audiences with humanities ideas in appealing ways. The program aims to extend the humanities to new audiences through the medium of short documentary films. Films must be grounded in humanities scholarship in disciplines such as history, art history, literature, religious studies, philosophy, or anthropology. The Short Documentaries program supports production of single films or series of thematically-related short films addressing significant figures, events, or ideas. Programs should be intended for regional or national distribution, via broadcast, festivals, and/or online distribution.

Short Documentaries may explore any humanities topic. In addition to funding films on national and global topics and events, NEH anticipates funding projects that use humanities scholarship to explore regional stories within a broader humanities context. Examples of subjects that could be explored in this program include:

- Military history
- Regional Native American histories
- Portraits of regional artists, folk artists, or artists tied to an exhibition
- Humanistic biographies of regional authors
- Biographies of civic leaders and other figures whose stories illuminate broader humanities themes regarding civic education
- Significant local or regional historical events that resonated nationally or internationally
- Behind-the scenes explorations of museum collections
- Historical vignettes on regional businesses and industries
- Explorations of America’s founding principles
- Histories of significant social and intellectual movements

All proposed projects should:

- Employ appealing formats that will engage the general public in learning
- Build on sound humanities scholarship
- Deepen public understanding of significant humanities questions
- Approach a subject analytically, presenting a variety of perspectives
- Involve humanities scholars in all phases of development and production
- Involve appropriate media professionals

For additional project information, see pages 4-5 of the NOFO:

For more information on the NEH areas of interest, see the NOFO:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 186318

Estimated Size of Grant:

Estimated Award Amount or Funding Range:

- Up to $60,000 for a single film
- Up to $250,000 for a series of films

Term of Contract:

Period of Performance: Earliest start date is May 1, 2020 for a six to twenty-four month period of performance.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education.

Individuals and foreign and for-profit entities are not eligible to apply.

Eligible organizations are encouraged to partner with independent producers. Under this arrangement, the organization serves as the lead applicant and submits the application on behalf of the partnership. Lead applicants must not function solely as fiscal agents, but should make substantive contributions to the success of the project. If the application is funded, the eligible organization is considered the recipient of record and assumes all programmatic, financial, and legal responsibilities associated with the award.

For a list of ineligible requests, see:

NEH funds may not be used to support obscene, libelous, indecent, or defamatory content (including hate speech, personal attacks, or material constituting harassment).

Pre-Application Information:

The Division of Public Programs accepts applications for the Short Documentaries program at two deadlines a year: in January and August.

Application Due Date: August 14, 2019, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Draft proposals, which are optional, must be submitted by July 3, 2019, so that staff will have adequate time to respond. A response cannot be guaranteed if drafts arrive after this date.

Before using for the first time, each organization must have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and register with The registration process requires completing information in three separate systems:

1) Dun and Bradstreet (
2) System for Award Management (SAM) (; The initial SAM registration can take up to six weeks. Applicants are strongly recommended to verify the status of their SAM registration at least two weeks before the application deadline.
3) ( The initial registration process can take up to two weeks.


- Before the August 14, 2019 deadline: Contact Division of Public Programs program officers
(at 202-606-8269 or ) with questions and for advice (optional)
- July 3, 2019: Applicants that have not registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) and should begin the process no later than this date
- July 3, 2019: Submit draft application by this date (optional)
- July 31, 2019: Applicants that have registered in SAM and should verify their
registrations by this date
- August 14, 2019: Applications must be submitted through and validated by by this date
- August 14, 2019: If applicable, DVD samples must arrive at NEH on or before this date
October-November 2020: Peer review panels take place
- March 2020: Meeting of the National Council on the Humanities, followed by funding decisions
- April 2020: Applicants are notified of the funding decisions
- April 2020: Institutional grants administrators and project directors of successful applications receive award documents by e-mail from the NEH Office of Grant Management
- May 1, 2020: Successful applicants may begin work on their projects

Successful applicants will be awarded outright funds, matching funds, or a combination of the two, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of funds.

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For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the link above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Short Documentaries
Division of Public Programs
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506

Division of Public Programs Team
TTY users: 800-877-8399

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming