Student Humanities Grant

Up to $500 for creative and energetic high school students interested in community engagement through the humanities.

Student with books in library

Are you a high school working on a public project or program in your school or community? Does your project involve the humanities? Do you need funding to make it a reality? Then the Maine Humanities Council’s Student Humanities Grant is for you.



What are the humanities?

The humanities encourage us to ask “Why?”

They explore the human experience by encouraging reflection through literature, history, philosophy, and culture. The humanities use discussion and dialogue, analysis and interpretation, and investigation to explore what it means to be human.

Humanities projects funded by MHC generally:

  • Engage participants in thinking critically about fundamental questions of value, purpose, and meaning.
  • Promote better understanding of ourselves and others, past and present.
  • Are conducted in a spirit of open and informed inquiry, providing multiple viewpoints where applicable.
  • Involve partnerships between community organizations, cultural institutions, and scholars in the humanities.

What do we look for in a public humanities project?

Have an interpretive focus.

Choose your topics and themes from one or more humanities subjects and create a way for your audience to put the topic into context. For example: a musical performance is an arts project. It becomes a humanities project if something is done to help the audience understand the history or the cultural significance of the music. You can do this by offering a pre-concert lecture by someone who has studied the musician or the type of music being performed. The goal is to give the audience a chance to understand the art and its context.

Involve a humanities expert.

A scholar or subject matter expert can help to frame a project and provide context and background. A humanities consultant may be someone teaching at the college level; someone with an advanced degree; or someone with publishing, speaking, or deep knowledge of the subject.

Include a public program.

Public programs are the heart of what the MHC does, and outreach to the public needs to be a central part of your project. This outreach may mean the general public or specifically targeted audiences within in your school community. Our preference is for programs to be free. Example: a free panel discussion held at your school and open to all members of your community.

Provide balanced viewpoints.

One of the hallmarks of the humanities is a belief in nonjudgmental discussion.  All projects must demonstrate a spirit of inquiry, a balance between critical and celebratory perspectives, and provide a range of viewpoints and informed opinions, consistent with MHC’s educational, non-partisan mission. This is especially true when projects treat highly charged issues.

What do we NOT fund?

  • Art performances or creative works on their own. We need to see some discussion about the performance or work, for example a panel discussion after a theatrical performance or an author talk/Q&A after a reading.
  • Publications, unless integral to public programs.
  • Grants primarily for group or individual travel.
  • Projects designed as fundraising ventures.
  • Projects that are discriminatory against persons or groups.

How does this work?

Adult Mentor

You need to work closely with an adult mentor—most likely a teacher, librarian, or other adult in your community who can help you to manage the project. A teacher or librarian is probably the easiest choice!

The adult mentor’s role:

  • to help you think through the goals and implementation of your project,
  • to be someone you bounce ideas off of,
  • to help you with logistics and things that you may never have done before,
  • is your adult point person—a troubleshooter and a resource for you as you manage your own project.

Partner Organization

In addition to an adult mentor, you must find a partner nonprofit or educational organization to be the lead organization because we can’t give money to individuals. So for example, that means you need to talk to your school, your community’s library, a historical society, or a local nonprofit organization, and ask them to be the partner organization. Their role will be to accept and manage the grant money on your behalf. Depending on your project, the partner organization may also do more than just manage the money. Example: your project is a reading and discussion group open to all members of your community. You may want to approach your local library as the partner organization. That library will probably be thrilled to work with you on planning and hosting the discussion group (they’ll have lots of experience with this!).

Final Report

When we give grants, we ask that our grantees share the results of their programs. Not only is it your opportunity to reflect on the great work you have done, but we learn from you. We use these reflections to improve our programs, advise future grantees, and let our funders know why it is important for us to continue offering this type of grant. So after your work is finished, you will need to fill out a final report form—answering questions about how many people you served, any challenges you faced, what was successful, those kinds of things. You’ll also need to give us an account of how you spent your grant money in a simple budget form. Your partner organization does NOT need to fill out the form—just you (with help from your mentor).


Will I get school credit for this?

We encourage you to work with your adult mentor and high school administration to determine how this project might fit into your academic curriculum.

What do I need to do to apply?

  1. Call us. You and your mentor should arrange a time to speak to with us. You can contact Lizz Sinclair at 773-5051 or reach us at
  2. Complete and submit the online application and budget form by Friday, November 30, 2018

When do I need to apply?

Application deadline: November 30, 2018
Grant awards announced: December 10, 2018
Project completion date and final report due: June 2019

How do I get started?

  1. Give us a call to talk about your project idea—we are available to help you at any point through the application process and can help you to flesh out your vision for the project, find scholars, or understand how to fill out the budget form. You can reach us at 773-5051, or email us at
  2. Fill out the application
  3. Send the application and budget form by email no later than midnight on November 30, 2018 to