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)


The National Endowment for the Arts is a proud and active partner with the White House Initiative on 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.

Virtual National HBCU Week 2020

The virtual HBCU Week Annual Conference took place September 21-25, 2020. Click here to view the archived Arts, Humanities, and History sessions: “Applying for Success” and “Discover your Place in the Creative Economy.”


In the span of two 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 National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 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 and 2020.
  • Received the 2019 White House Initiative on HBCUs Public Partnership Award - Federal.

Awarded HBCU Grants

Following are some examples of grants made either directly to an HBCU or that involve an HBCU. A database of Arts Endowment grants can be searched through the agency’s Grant Search function.

Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS
To support musical performances and an educational workshop at the Alcorn State University Jazz Festival. The free, public, day-long festival will feature performances by middle school through university-level jazz bands from across the region; a regional all-star jazz ensemble; and an internationally acclaimed guest artist group whose members will conduct an educational workshop. (Grant amount: $10,000)

Bowie State University in Bowie, MD
To support the development of Other People's Stories: Dialogues Across Distance and Difference, a new play inspired by conversations between college students at Bowie State University and Kent State University who are training to become teachers. (Grant amount: $10,000)

Nashville Ballet in Nashville, TN
To support salaries for the creation and presentation of Lucy Negro, Redux, an original contemporary ballet by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling in collaboration with poet Caroline Randall Williams and composer Rhiannon Giddens. Community engagement activities with the Nashville LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, Fisk University, and local high schools among others, will help to contextualize the new work and broaden the reach of the project. (Grant amount: $15,000)

VA Stage Company in Norfolk, VA
To support salaries and artist fees for the production of The Bluest Eye, adapted by Lydia R. Diamond from the 1970 novel by Toni Morrison. Through an ongoing partnership with local HBCU Norfolk State University, the theater will curate an extensive series of community conversations around the production. (Grant amount: $20,000)

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). You can find those grant opportunities here.

Well in advance of the funding deadline, please contact 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 here.

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 here or email the HBCU team at

Receive the Newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter from the Arts, Humanities & History Cluster of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities 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.

Meet the HBCU Team and Request a Meeting or Conversation

Man presenting award to two women and a man on stage.

Johnathan M. Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, presents the National Endowment for the Arts with a Public Partnership Award for its outreach to HBCUs. Representing the Arts Endowment are, from left to right, Ayanna Hudson, Tamika Shingler, and William Maloney. Photo by Clifton Archuleta/NEA

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 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

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