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Short Documentaries

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, Tribes, and
IHEs for Humanities-Themed Documentary Films

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Division of Public Programs

Deadline Date:

08/11/21 11:59 PM Eastern Time


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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, government agencies, tribal governments, and IHEs to produce and distribute humanities-themed documentary films and film series. Interested applicants are advised that required registrations may take as long as one month to complete. Funding is intended to support projects that promote understanding of American history and culture, advance civic education, further knowledge of the core principles of government, and address the experiences of Native Americans and other underrepresented communities.

The Short Documentaries program supports the production and distribution of documentary films up to 30 minutes that engage audiences with humanities ideas in appealing ways. The program aims to extend the humanities to new audiences through the medium of short documentary films. Films must be grounded in humanities scholarship.

The Short Documentaries program supports the production of single films or series of thematically-related short films addressing significant figures, events, or ideas. Programs must be intended for regional or national distribution, via broadcast, festivals, and/or online distribution. The subject of the film(s) must be related to “A More Perfect Union”: NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Commemorating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary. (For further details on this topic, see

Applicants must have consulted with a team of scholarly advisers in the humanities to develop the humanities themes, subjects, and ideas that the film(s) will explore.  The humanities scholars must provide diverse perspectives, and incorporate a range of scholarly ideas and approaches.

All proposed projects must:

  • Relate to “A More Perfect Union”: NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Commemorating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary.
  • Employ formats that will engage the general public in learning
  • Build on sound humanities scholarship
  • Deepen public understanding of significant humanities questions
  • Approach a subject analytically, presenting a variety of perspectives
  • Involve humanities scholars in all phases of development and production
  • Involve appropriate media professionals

Short Documentaries awards may support activities such as:

  • Meeting with scholars
  • Script refinement
  • Shooting and editing of short films
  • Creation or enhancement of resources, including websites or other digital components, related to the proposed short film(s)
  • Distribution, outreach activities and public engagement related to the proposed short film(s)

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 186318

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Expected Number of Awards: 5

Estimated Size of Grant:

Funding Range:
- Up to $150,000 for a single film
- Up to $300,000 for a series of films (up to $150,000 for each short film in a series)

Term of Contract:

- Period of performance: 6 to 24 months
- The period of performance start date may be as early as May 1, 2022 and as late as September 1, 2022.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants include U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, public and 501(c)(3) accredited institutions of higher education, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments.

Individuals, foreign and for-profit entities are not eligible to apply.

NEH does not make awards to other federal entities or to applicants whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities. This does not preclude applicants from using funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.

NEH does not provide financial assistance to foreign institutions or organizations. Nevertheless, otherwise eligible American institutions may apply for collaborative projects involving U.S. and foreign organizations provided they do not use NEH funds for the purpose of issuing subawards to any foreign organization. This limitation does not preclude American institutions from obtaining the services of foreign individuals and consultants to carry out various programmatic activities on a fee-for-service basis; it also does not preclude vendor contracts such as in-country transportation services. Those interested in submitting an application for a project involving international collaboration should please consult beforehand with the division staff.

Not funded:
- Projects unrelated to “A More Perfect Union”: NEH Special Initiative Advancing Civic Education and Commemorating the Nation’s 250th Anniversary
- Fictional films, including dramatic adaptations of literary works
- Projects that will satisfy requirements for educational degrees or formal professional training
- Projects intended primarily for students in formal learning environments (though projects may include components that can be used in classrooms)
- General operations, renovation, restoration, rehabilitation, or construction of station or production facilities
- Creation, preservation or cataloging of archival materials and collections, including the creation of online archives and oral history archives
- Fiscal agent fees
- Obscene, libelous, indecent, or defamatory content (including hate speech, personal attacks, or material constituting harassment)
- Promotion of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view
- Advocacy of a particular program of social or political action
- Support of specific public policies or legislation
- Lobbying
- Projects that fall outside of the humanities (including the creation or performance of art; creative writing, autobiographies, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and empirically-based social science research or policy studies)

Pre-Application Information:

- Application available: April 26, 2021
- Optional Draft due: July 7, 2021
- Application due: August 11, 2021
- Project start date: May 1, 2022 - September 1, 2022

A pre-recorded webinar will be posted to the program resource page by July 1, 2021.

Program officers will review drafts submitted by July 7, 2021. Drafts submitted after this date will not be reviewed. This optional preliminary review is not part of the formal selection process and has no bearing on the final funding decision. However, previous applicants have found it helpful in strengthening their applications.

Eligible applicants may submit multiple applications for separate and distinct projects under this notice.

You must apply electronically using Workspace or a system-to-system solution. A multistep registration process is required to submit your application.

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S® number (a unique entity identifier), System for Award Management (SAM) registration, and registration. Check your registrations well in advance of the deadline to ensure that they are accurate, current, and active. If your D-U-N-S® number and SAM registration are not active and current at the time of submission, your application will be rejected. You should allow several weeks for the registration process. If you fail to allow sufficient time to complete registration with SAM or, you will not be eligible for a deadline extension or waiver of the online submission requirement.

To be ready to apply for a Short Documentaries award, you should have:
- Completed research on your subject, including archival work and preliminary interviews
- Involved humanities scholars in creating and interpreting the project’s content
- Completed the project’s script(s) and detailed treatment(s)
- Designed your plans for distribution, outreach, and partnerships

View this opportunity on

For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the page above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Applicants choosing to submit a draft proposal should send it as an attachment to

For questions about the program, contact:
Division of Public Programs
National Endowment for the Humanities
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506
TTY: 800-877-8399

For questions about administrative requirements or allowable costs, contact:
Office of Grant Management
National Endowment for the Humanities

For questions about registering or renewing registration with or, contact the Federal Service Desk Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time at:
U.S. calls: 866-606-8220
International calls: +1 334-206-7828

For assistance in registering with or submitting the application through, contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, excluding federal holidays at: Applicant Support
Telephone: 1-800-518-4726
International Calls: 606-545-5035

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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