The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities believes in the power of the humanities community to inspire and improve Rhode Island. For 45 years, the Council has sparked discovery and interpretation of Rhode Island history and culture, amplified voices from diverse communities, and enhances Rhode Island as a place to live, work, learn, and visit. Public programs, research projects, and media supported by the Council have reached millions of people and tackled challenges that we face as a society in imaginative and positive ways. The Council catalyzes the humanities to enhance the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders and make a significant contribution to the state’s economic vitality.
The Council was founded in 1973 as an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, established by Rhode Island’s own late Senator Claiborne Pell. A private nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Council is supported by a public-private partnership of federal and local funds.
To date, the Council has awarded more than $8 million through more than 1,700 grants. We have supported more than 650 community organizations, including historical societies, libraries, museums, preservation societies, educational institutions, heritage and faith groups, and cultural organizations. We also support individual researchers and filmmakers.
The Council is proud of our long history supporting a wide range of public humanities projects: Documentary films that have gone on to premiere at Sundance Film Festival, win Emmys, and gain national broadcast on PBS; research projects that have examined everything from wartime gardening in Rhode Island to how racial integration affected the state’s black baseball leagues; public history projects that have preserved stories from WWII soldiers at life’s end, hurricane survivors, and apple growers to name only a few.
In addition to grantmaking, the Council builds partnerships and launches initiatives to increase the impact of the Humanities. Explore our grantmaking priorities and partnership programs to learn more about the Council’s work.
Individuals, foundations, and corporations are essential supporters of the Council in addition to the federal support we received through the National Endowment for the Humanities, the majority of which is given our as grants to communities across Rhode Island. The Council is one of 56 state and territorial councils across the country that make up the membership of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.