Who We Are
The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. As the only dedicated source of funding for public humanities in Rhode Island, we are proud to support museums, libraries, historic sites, schools, preservation and historical societies, community and cultural organizations, individual researchers and documentary filmmakers to bring Rhode Island’s stories to life and to amplify the state’s many diverse voices.
The Humanities Council was established in 1973 as an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which was founded in 1965 thanks to the leadership of Rhode Island’s own late Senator Claiborne Pell. A private nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Council is supported by federal funds from NEH as well as by individuals, corporations, and foundations. We are one of 56 humanities councils found in every state and U.S. territory.
What We Do
We Seed: Public programs, research projects, and media supported by Council grants cultivate and engage thousands of Rhode Islanders as we work together to tackle challenges that we face as a society in imaginative and forward-thinking ways.
We Support: The Council sparks discovery and interpretation of Rhode Island history and culture, amplifies voices from diverse communities, and enhances relationships with national funders and organizations that champion the humanities.
We Strengthen: The Council catalyzes the humanities to enhance the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders, investing in community-based programs, bridging higher education and the community across sectors and disciplines, and providing access to lifelong learning opportunities across the state.
Why the Humanities are Vital
Cultural participation contributes to greater connection between people, deeper understanding of the past and why it matters, the quality of the places we live, work, explore and enjoy, and a more vital economy. These factors are essential for civic health and a stronger democracy.
How We Do Our Work
Grantmaking: The Council has one major grant deadline for awards up to $12,000 and four mini grant deadlines for awards up to $2,000 each year. Currently, we award an average of $175,000 each year through 30-35 grants. Council staff provides advice from idea to application and helps to connect applicants to scholars and civic and cultural organizations throughout the state to add value and impact. Explore our grantmaking guidelines.
Partnerships: The Council collaborates with partners to bring together resources, expertise, networks and audiences to seed new approaches, support larger initiatives, and strengthen the humanities sector. Learn more about our partnership programs, including Rhode Tour and RI Expansion Arts.
Initiatives: Long- and short-term initiatives spark new ways of using the humanities to address pressing challenges in Rhode Island. Current projects include (Press)ed: A Podcast About The Media, Fake News, and The Future Of Our Democracy in partnership with The Public’s Radio and the RI Arts and Culture Research Fellowship.
Internships: The Council has a strong commitment to offering opportunities for the next generation of public humanities professionals through our internships. Interns come from diverse backgrounds to be mentored by staff members as they support and enhance our efforts to engage the public, activate our archive of 45 years of public humanities projects in Rhode Island, conduct research to collect and analyze data about the humanities, and enhance our evaluative practices. The Council has hosted interns from nearly all colleges and universities in Rhode Island and several in nearby Massachusetts.
Recognition of Leadership: The Council recognizes lifetime and creative achievement, as well as innovation and public humanities scholarship at the annual Celebration of the Humanities in October. This event brings together 300 – 400 people each year and raises funds to support the Council’s work with communities across the state. The Council has honored 41 humanities leaders since 2002.
- Participate: Attend a humanities event near you or apply for a grant to support your next public humanities project. Use the Rhode Tour app and share it with visitors. Listen to our podcasts. Support our grantees by attending their lectures, performances, and exhibits throughout the state.
- Celebrate: Attend the annual Celebration of the Humanities in October and our quarterly Humanities Happy Hours.
- Advocate: Show your support for the humanities by telling policymakers and legislators why the humanities matter. Write a letter, email, or tweet and share your story.
- Donate: Your gift to the Council is a gift to Rhode Island! Seed, support, and strengthen public history, cultural heritage, and civic engagement by contributing today.