Grant Details

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Could fund technology as a primary component of the budget, if the agency receiving the grant chooses to use it for that purpose.


    National Endowment For The Humanities (NEH)


    This program is designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. By awarding relatively small grants to support the planning stages, NEH aims to encourage the development of innovative projects that promise to benefit the humanities. Proposals should be for the planning or initial stages of digital initiatives in any area of the humanities. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants may involve: 

    • research that brings new approaches or documents best practices in the study of the digital humanities; 
    • planning and developing prototypes of new digital tools for preserving, analyzing, and making accessible digital resources, including libraries' and museums' digital assets; 
    • scholarship that examines the philosophical implications and impact of the use of emerging technologies;
    • innovative uses of technology for public programming and education utilizing both traditional and/or new media; and 
    • new digital modes of publication that facilitate the dissemination of humanities scholarship in advanced academic as well as informal or formal educational settings at all academic levels. Innovation is a hallmark of this grant category. 


    All applicants must propose an innovative approach, method, tool, or idea that has not been used before in the humanities. These grants are modeled, in part, on the "high risk/high reward" paradigm often used by funding agencies in the sciences. NEH is requesting proposals for projects that take some risks in the pursuit of innovation and excellence. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants should result in plans, prototypes, or proofs of concept for long-term digital humanities projects prior to implementation. 

    Two levels of awards will be made in this program: 

    • Level I awards are small grants designed to fund brainstorming sessions, workshops, early alpha-level prototypes, and initial planning.
    • Level II awards are larger grants that can be used for more fully-formed projects that are ready to begin implementation or the creation of working prototypes.


    Applicants must state in their narrative which funding level they seek. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants support full-time or part-time activities for periods up to eighteen months. Support is available for various combinations of scholars, consultants, and research assistants; project-related travel; and technical support and services. Up to 20% of the total grant may also be used for the acquisition of computing hardware and software. All grantees are expected to communicate the results of their work to appropriate scholarly and public audiences. In order to facilitate dissemination and the maximum usage of the projects that are ultimately developed through the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants, applicants are strongly encouraged to base their projects on open source and fully accessible software.


    History of Funding

    Previous awards can be viewed on the program website.

    Additional Information

    Funds cannot be used for:

    • Projects that mainly involve digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative method for digitization;
    • The creation or conversion of a scholarly journal (however, the exploration of or planning for new modes of scholarly publication is allowed);
    • Recurring maintenance costs that would support only the day-to-day operations of existing projects rather than substantive changes or upgrades;
    • Recurring or established conferences or professional meetings;
    • Acquisition of computer equipment or software in excess of 20 percent of the grant total;
    • Creative or performing arts;
    • Empirical social scientific research;
    • Work undertaken in the pursuit of an academic degree;
    • The preparation or publication of textbooks;
    • Projects that seek to promote a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view; or
    • Projects that advocate a particular program of social action



    National Endowment for the Humanities
    400 7th Street SW
    Washington', DC 20506

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligibility is limited to U.S. nonprofit organizations or institutions with IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status; state and local governmental agencies; and Native American tribal organizations. Project directors may submit only one application to this program at a time although they may participate in more than one Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant. They may also apply for other NEH awards. NEH generally does not award grants to other federal entities or to applicants whose projects are closely intertwined with a federal entity.

    Deadline Details

    Applications must be electronically submitted via by September 16, 2015.

    Award Details

    Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants have two levels of funding: Level I Grants range from $5,000 to $40,000 in outright funding; Level II Grants range from $40,001 to $75,000 in outright funding. Awards are for up to eighteen months. In the narrative, applicants must specify which level of funding they seek. Cost-sharing is not required for Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants. However, applicants are welcome to use cost-sharing for start-up projects in which the total budget exceeds the NEH grant limit.


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