Minnesota Humanities Center

Minnesota Humanities Center 2018 Mini-Grant

The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) is announcing the launch of a competitive grant opportunity through the Minnesota State Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF). Aligning with its foundational offerings around absent narratives, MHC is seeking humanities-based projects that celebrate the rich diversity of voices, identities, stories, and experiences of Minnesotans.

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Jamie Kavanah


The 2017 Minnesota state legislative language states, “The Minnesota Humanities Center may consider museums and organizations celebrating the identities of Minnesotans… for grants from these funds.” – 2017 Minnesota Laws, Article 4, Section 2, Sub.8.

But what does it mean to celebrate identity? Whose identities are seen, unseen, and/or erased? Programming at MHC is informed by the recognition that many stories are absent from public discourse; that existing social structures actively exclude many of these narratives; that giving voice to absent narratives can align our sense of collective identity with the enriching, complex realities of individual experience; that the inclusion of absent narratives is more than the addition of absent voices to an ongoing cacophony—it requires social change.

We are offering funding support to amplify stories and identities in Minnesota that have been silenced, left out, marginalized, or otherwise absented from our education and public awareness.

The Opportunity

Mini-grants (up to $7,500 each) will be awarded to organizations who are interested in implementing new small-scale projects or enhancing existing programming with humanities-based activities and subjects, including but not limited to: language, literature, history, philosophy, ethics, civics, storytelling, discussion and conversation, poetry, and other types of participatory or interactive humanities learning experiences.

Examples of project activities could be, but are not limited to: creating space and opportunities for learning, understanding, and/or dialogue within or across Minnesotan communities, cultures, or identities, or an exchange of ideas and/or opinions through text, story, art exhibit, or other humanities-based cultural activities and subjects.

Note: This is not a general operating support grant. ACHF grants may be spent only for arts, arts education, and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage, and all money from the ACHF must be for projects located in Minnesota. Grant funds may only be spent on activities considered direct and necessary to the success of a project or program.

Grant range: Up to $7,500
Application Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Central Time, Friday, April 20, 2018
Applicant Notification: No later than Friday, May 30, 2018

Eligibility and State Funding Requirements

Who is eligible: Minnesota non-profit organizations (or organizations with a fiscal sponsor), Tribal Nations, and state/municipal public agencies such as K-12 schools, universities, or libraries may apply. Eligible organizations must be in good standing with the IRS, and up-to-date on reporting and state requirements for any funds previously awarded by MHC. MHC does not fund individuals.

Note: In good standing with the IRS means that the organization has completed all reporting requirements (including IRS form 990) and is therefore eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. MHC uses this searchable database to confirm IRS compliance.

ACHF grants require that proposed and/or awarded projects and funds requested:

  • [Projects] Must include measurable outcomes and a plan for measuring and evaluating the results
  • [Grant funds] Must supplement, not substitute for, traditional funding sources
  • [Grant funds] May not be used for the following purposes:
    • To start, match, add to, or complete any type of capital campaign
    • For capital costs (such as improvements, construction, property, or equipment)
    • For indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related to, and necessary for, the activities outlined in the program proposal
    • For expenditures incurred before the date you are authorized by MHC to begin work
    • To supplement current programming (grant funds are for new projects or an expansion of an existing project)
    • To support benefits and fundraisers

If an organization or project does not meet all of the above requirements, it will not be considered.

Assessment Criteria

An independent review panel will review all proposals and make funding recommendations to MHC. The panel will review proposals based on the core values of MHC and evidence of the following questions/elements:

  • How does this project address cultural and/or educational needs in your community? In what ways is this project framed in community-identified solutions?
    Strong proposals demonstrate community need and community-identified solutions, grounded in authentic relationships, and identify intended audiences and engagement strategies based on those relationships.
  • Who is engaged in the planning process? How are you involving a multiplicity of voices?
    Strong proposals demonstrate a high level of collaboration, multiplicity of voices, and community involvement in planning, design, and implementation.
  • How do your project activities support clear goals for the program or project?
    Strong proposals connect proposed project elements to clearly articulated goals. Panelists will be able to easily identify how project activities will support.
  • How are the proposed expenses vital to the success of the project or program?
    Strong proposals will include budget expenses that are direct and necessary to the success of the project or program.

Although the panel will review proposals based on the review criteria as published above, the panel may consider the diversity of the overall awardee pool, including communities impacted and geography.

How to Apply

Proposals will only be accepted through the MHC online portal, Foundant. In order to submit a proposal, the lead applicant organization must register with Foundant. To register with Foundant, head to the login page and follow the “Create New Account” steps.