Two African American men and an African American women on a panel - the men in the center is speaking into a mincrophone

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Overview

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.

Impact

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.

Cluster Resources

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.

Receive the Newsletter: Sign up for the newsletter from the Arts, History, Humanities & Culture Cluster and receive news about grant opportunities, events, and grantee highlights from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Department of Education.

Recent Grants

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 support research that investigates the value and/or impact of the arts.
  • 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
process.

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

Reaching Out to HBCUs

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.