The National Endowment for the Arts is a proud and active partner with the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Outreach to HBCUs is a direct priority of the National Endowment for the Arts. Over time, the agency’s vision is that every historically Black college and university successfully applies for funding opportunities through the National Endowment for the Arts. The agency’s efforts include:
- establishing and cultivating ongoing relationships with historically Black colleges and universities leadership, educators, and students;
- building awareness of the National Endowment for the Arts and its funding opportunities;
- providing technical assistance to HBCUs on developing competitive grant applications;
- sharing critical resources and information;
- exploring new ways of improving the relationship between HBCUs and federal agencies through internships, partnerships, programs, and mentoring; and
- increasing awareness of career pathways in the arts.
Above photo: (left to right) At the 2019 National HBCU Week & Conference, Lopez D. Matthews Jr. with Howard University, Professor Dale Glenwood Green with Morgan State University, and Dr. Carla Jackson Bell with Tuskegee University participate in a panel as part of the Arts, Humanities, and History cluster’s Dream It-Achieve It Federal Cultural Funding Opportunities Symposium. Photo by NEA staff.
In the span of three years, the agency has:
- Enhanced Grants for Arts Projects guidelines to specifically encourage HBCU applications.
- Conducted active outreach to HBCUs throughout the country, including meetings with nearly 30 HBCUs by mapping staff travel to the location of HBCUs.
- Hosted a grants workshop in partnership with Jackson State University in Mississippi.
- Hosted four HBCU interns for the inaugural Arts and Culture Internship for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- Created a catalogue of arts and culture resources, faculty, classes, and program offerings for every HBCU.
- Created and managed a first-of-its-kind partnership with Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, and U.S. Department of Education to create the Interagency Competitiveness Cluster for Arts, History, Humanities & Culture.
- Co-hosted with the Arts, History, Humanities & Culture Cluster sessions specifically about arts and culture funding and job opportunities for the HBCU Week Annual Conference in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
- Received the 2019 White House Initiative on HBCUs Public Partnership Award - Federal.
As part of the Arts, History, Humanities & Culture Cluster of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the NEA works with colleagues at other federal agencies to share resources for HBCUs around grant opportunities, careers and professional development, and the creative economy.
- In February 2022, the cluster presented: Exploring Career and Professional Development Opportunities in the Arts, Humanities, Museums, Libraries, and History Sectors. This webinar covered career/job opportunities in the arts, humanities, history, museum, and library spaces as well as the ways the federal government supports professional development for HBCU faculty and leadership working in these areas.
- The 2021 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference took place September 7–10, 2021. As part of the conference, the NEA participated in the Arts, History, Humanities and Culture cluster session Demystifying the process: Best practices for Applying for Federal Arts, Humanities, and Culture Grants, which shared information with potential grantees on how to leverage resources in order to achieve greater success in federal grant applications. In addition, the conference's opening event featured DC’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud champion, Saquoya Gorham, a sophomore at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, reciting a poem, with an introduction by NEA Chief of Staff Ra Joy. That recitation is available on the NEA's YouTube page.
- The 2020 virtual HBCU Week Annual Conference took place September 21-25, 2020. View the archived Arts, Humanities, and History sessions: “Applying for Success” and “Discover your Place in the Creative Economy."
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The National Endowment for the Arts supports HBCUs both through direct grants and by supporting projects that are in collaboration with HBCUs. This document lists recent awarded and recommended grants in these areas.
A database of Arts Endowment grants can be searched through the agency’s Grant Search function.
Apply for a Grant
The Arts Endowment is pleased to work with HBCUs, assisting these invaluable institutions to understand and apply to the Arts Endowment’s funding categories that support HBCU priorities for arts and culture.
In fact, the Arts Endowment encourages applications from HBCUs in its funding guidelines.
Our flagship program is Grants for Arts Projects. These grants support artistically excellent projects that celebrate our creativity and cultural heritage, invite mutual respect for differing beliefs and values, and enrich humanity. Cost share/matching grants generally range from $10,000 to $100,000. A minimum cost share/match equal to the grant amount is required.
Other grants programs for organizations include:
- Challenge America grants enable organizations, particularly those that are small or mid-sized to extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations.
- Research Awards includes two opportunities for research projects: Research Grants in the Arts funds research that investigates the value and/or impact of the arts, and NEA Research Labs, which funds transdisciplinary research teams grounded in the social and behavioral sciences.
- In September 2022 as part of the National HBCU Week Conference, the NEA led a webinar on the Research Labs. Representatives from two NEA Research Labs led session participants through experiential demonstrations of how researchers are exploring the arts alongside healthcare, innovation, and technology. The session also addressed, as a potential growth area for HBCU research and development, the nuts and bolts of securing federal funding to support partnerships for research in the arts. Watch the archived webinar.
- Our Town funds projects focused on arts-based community.
The National Endowment for the Arts also has grant opportunities for individuals (literature fellowships in creative writing and translation).
Well in advance of the funding deadline, please contact HBCU@arts.gov and the right staff person will follow up to discuss the project and assist in the application
We strongly recommend watching the grants workshop video for a step-by-step guide through the application process.
A tutorial about using the online "Grant Application Form" is available.
The Arts Endowment looks forward to hearing from HBCUs and receiving applications for funding!
Sign Up to be a Review Panelist
Arts Endowment panelists play a central role in reviewing applications for funding. We rely on panels composed of individuals who represent a broad range of artistic and cultural viewpoints, as well as wide geographic and ethnic diversity, to provide advice about the artistic excellence and artistic merit of proposals in a variety of funding categories.
Our panels are composed of both arts professionals and knowledgeable laypersons—someone knowledgeable about the arts but not engaged in the arts as a profession either full- or part-time.
We need HBCU representatives to serve as panelists! It’s a great way to learn more about the application process and what makes a successful application.
Sign up to be a panelist or email the HBCU team at HBCU@arts.gov.
Meet the HBCU Team and Request a Meeting or Conversation
The foundation of the agency’s outreach is developing relationships with HBCUs.
The Arts Endowment’s HBCU team is here to learn about the arts and culture priorities of HBCUs, to help HBCUs navigate funding opportunities, and to guide HBCUs through all things Arts Endowment-related.
Please email HBCU@arts.gov to request a meeting or a conversation with the HBCU Team:
- Ayanna Hudson, Arts Education Director and an alumna of Spelman College
- Tamika Shingler, Museums and Visual Arts Specialist and an alumna of Morgan State University
Related Stories on HBCUs
First Person: Zephaniah Galloway
Art Talk with Curators Katie Delmez and Jamaal Sheats
College Homecoming Gets Artsy at Two Louisiana HBCUs
Podcast interview with National Heritage Fellow Linda Goss
Read an interview with Zephaniah Galloway, the NEA's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Pathways Intern from 2021-2022.