Program Grant Guidelines

Colorado Humanities offers two types of Program Grants.

Small Program Grant
Proposals with requests of up to $2,000 are eligible. Applicant organizations considered eligible to apply for the Small Program Grant must have a total operating budget of $300,000 or less per year (if the applicant is a public library within a larger library system, the library should refer to its individual operating budget rather than its system operating budget to determine whether it qualifies as a small organization).  All applicants must submit a copy of their sponsoring organization's most recent budget as part of their application.

Large Program Grant
Proposals with requests of up to $10,000 for public humanities programs that would appeal to a large, broad audience are eligible.  Potential applicants would include colleges, universities, larger libraries, schools, museums, and cultural organizations with annual budgets over $300,000.

Involvement of Scholars and the Public
Humanities scholars and the public must figure prominently in programs funded by Colorado Humanities.  For Colorado Humanities purposes, a "humanities scholar" is defined as a person with advanced education in one or more of the humanities disciplines listed above - most often having earned a terminal degree in the discipline (an M.A. or Ph.D.) and who is professionally involved in the humanities.  Community representation is also key to successful public programs.  Community members should also play a significant role in program planning and implementation. 

Colorado Humanities cannot provide financial support for

  • direct social or political action
  • social service projects
  • public information campaigns
  • major film and videotape production
  • scholarships and fellowships
  • indirect costs or general operating expenses (overhead)
  • institutional staffing (including the Project Director, Authorizing Official, the Fiscal Agent)
  • food (except as travel expenses)
  • entertainment
  • building restoration or construction
  • purchase of permanent equipment or property
  • museum acquisitions
  • publications unrelated to Colorado Humanities grant programs
  • art performance or instruction that is not significantly related to the humanities
  • regularly scheduled courses offered for academic credit
  • programs that discriminate or exclude on the basis of race, national origin, gender, age, or physical abilities
  • any organization that is ineligible for participation in federal assistance programs.

Some common reasons why proposals are not funded

  • insufficient humanities content
  • inadequate involvement of humanities scholars
  • advocacy or unbalanced presentation of contemporary public issues
  • inadequate publicity or marketing plans
  • budget not justified or not reasonable
  • application too vague, lacking specifics
  • incomplete application
  • proposed activities occurring prior to funding date

Non-profit Status
Applicant organizations with a 501(c) 3 tax exempt status are eligible, as are state and local governmental agencies.  Program Grants are not awarded to individuals.  Additional federal requirements are described in the application.  Colorado Humanities does not award grants to 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 grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.  

Matching Requirements
Cost share, which varies in amount by type of grant, includes cash and in-kind goods and services.  Proposals are funded on a 1 to1 combined in-kind and cash match. Requests of less than $1,000 need only show an in-kind match equal to the amount requested. If the proposal is awarded funding by Colorado Humanities, program sponsors of requests $1,000 and over are expected to raise third-party, non-federal cash contributions. This "Third-Party Cash," raised from a source not associated with the applicant organization, should be no less than 33% of the amount requested.  For example, a $10,000 request must have a third party cash match of at least $3,334 and $6,666 of in-kind and other cash match.  A $5,000 request must have a third party cash match of at least $1,667 and $3,333 of in-kind and other cash match.  Cash contributions may come from individuals, foundations, businesses, or other organizations not otherwise linked to the sponsoring organization or the program.  Third Party Cash donated to the sponsoring organization for discretionary purposes may be eligible for match.

Third Party Cash is used as part of the Colorado Humanities Gifts and Matching program with the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Project donors must qualify as an "outside source" - that is, funds cannot come directly from the treasury of the sponsoring organization(s), a person (or close relative of a person) directly involved in the project, or federal funds.  A simple process of certification of these funds is required before Colorado Humanities can use the funds in the NEH matching program:  a letter from the donor acknowledging the use intended for the funds (template will be provided after award) and copy of the check or transfer.

Program Formats
Eligible formats include lecture and/or film and discussion series, panel discussions, exhibits, and symposia.  Pre-production of film, video, online and other media may also by eligible. Proposals are encouraged that will engage the broad Colorado public in dialogue, enhance ongoing research, employ original source material, and utilize new technologies.  Criteria used in the selection of proposals includes the following

  • Programs must have broad appeal and effectively engage their targeted audience.
  • Preference will be given to programs which result in a lasting and replicable resource or model.
  • Programs by and about diverse ethnic, cultural and other groups are strongly encouraged.
  • Applications that include the production of film, video or other media must include the "Media Supplement." You may request this form from Colorado Humanities staff.

Program Format
Lecture and/or film series, panel discussions, exhibits, symposia or other program formats.  Colorado Humanities seeks programs which will engage the broad Colorado public in dialogue, enhance ongoing research, employ original source material, and utilize new technologies. 


Programs should enhance the exploration and improve the understanding of significant themes and events in our national heritage.  Humanities scholars must be significantly involved in all aspects of program planning, content development, implementation, and delivery.  Humanities scholars are identified as persons with a terminal degree or its equivalent in a humanities discipline appropriate to the project. Programs must have broad appeal and effectively engage a clearly defined audience. Preference will be given to programs that result in a lasting and replicable resource or model.  Colorado Humanities encourages programs by and about diverse ethnic, cultural and other groups.

Suggested Topics
We continue to seek proposals that focus on the following:

  • The history of black Americans has been a struggle to secure their dignity as human beings, and rights as American citizens, in the face of racial prejudice. What viewpoints have leading black and white intellectuals and activists on human equality, slavery, self-government, the rule of law, emancipation, colonization, and citizenship contributed to the recording of the history of race in America?
  • American politics in the 20th century and beyond is substantially different from what was envisioned at the inception of our country. How do these two times compare? What thinkers were central to this new direction in American politics? What impact have their ideas had on contemporary American politics and institutions, as well as the origins and development of the modern study of politics and government?
  • Throughout American history, communities of ethnic and racial groups, women, immigrants and other groups have sought equal rights. What were the paths followed by these groups in their efforts to achieve equality? What groups have achieved success and how did they do it? What were the commonalities in approaches among these diverse groups?
  • What democratic concepts can we draw on from our own U.S. history to guide us in forging new civic covenants among our citizens?
  • What must we know and understand about the multiplicity of groups and people in our nation, knowing that some have been unequally acknowledged?
  • What kinds of knowledge and capabilities are required for full participation in a pluralist democracy? What kinds of values?

Program Grant Application

The same application form is used for both Small and Large Program Grants.  There is a separate form for Research Grants.  Please read the application instructions and forms thoroughly before submitting your proposal. Please type information in the Word document provided.

Program Grant Application.doc
Budget Form and Narrative.doc
Budget Form and Narrative.xls
Media Application Supplement.doc (Please contact staff to confirm that the media supplement is required for your program.)

Application Instructions

Indicate whether you are applying for a Small or Large Program Grant

Title of Program
A strong title is short enough to serve publicity efforts, indicates clearly the subject, and captures the interest of the program's intended audience.  Please avoid titles which begin with formats, such as "Lecture Series on..." or "Planning for...," or numbers such as "The First Annual..." or "2004 Summer..."

Dates of Program
Include dates of program start and finish (i.e., the time during which you wish to commit grant funds). 

Indicate here whether your program is a lecture series, symposium, exhibit or some other format, as well as whether you plan a continuing series or a one-time program.  Examples: "Six monthly forums and public discussion," "a slide-tape program followed by a panel discussion," "a film/lecture series," "a traveling, interpretive exhibit." 

List every town or city where program activities are to be held.

Intended Audience and Estimated Numbers
List the types of groups or persons you are interested in reaching.  Enter the total number of people you expect to attend, and, if appropriate, the number you will reach in different phases of your program. 

Funds Requested from Colorado Humanities

Enter the exact amount of grant funds (rounded to the nearest dollar) you are requesting from Colorado Humanities.

Third-Party Cash
Cash donated to the program by sources not directly connected with the sponsoring organization or program personnel that is eligible for NEH matching.

List here the total value of all materials, services, facilities, or cash being contributed by your organization or others. 

Other Cash
Cash gifts from the sponsoring organization, other organizations, or participants in the program that may not be eligible for NEH match.

This is the total of the four previous items.

Organization must have non-profit organization tax-exempt status under IRS regulation 501(c)(3) or its equivalent.  This organization will assume fiscal responsibility for the project. For co-sponsored programs, the first organization listed will be considered the principal sponsor. For federal congressional district and Colorado Senate and House district information, visit

Fiscal Agent

List a fiscal agent who has experience and skill in keeping financial records.  The fiscal agent and program director cannot be the same person. 

Program Director
The program director has the principal responsibility for the program and will be the primary contact person for Colorado Humanities staff.  If there is a co-director, the first name listed will serve as the principal contact.  The fiscal agent and program director cannot be the same person. 

These signatures indicate that all information in the entire application is, to the best of the signers' knowledge, true and accurate.  The signatures will also indicate the sponsoring organization's compliance with the rules and regulations regarding nondiscrimination statutes, and debarment and suspension as indicated on the application.

Non-Profit Status
Attach a copy of the document certifying the non-profit status of the legal sponsor, according to the Regulation 501(c)(3) (or its equivalent) of the Internal Revenue Service.  This is a federal document, not a State of Colorado document.

Abstract of Program Description

In 50 words or less, briefly describe the intended program.

Proposal Narrative
Describe briefly and clearly exactly what the program will accomplish and by what means.

Attachments should be limited to no more than four pages of material considered to be essential for a reader to fully understand the program.

Online & Surface Mail Submission Instructions & Formatting
We ask that you submit your application both via email and surface mail.

Two copies and one signed original-signature application (including budget) should be submitted on white paper unstapled (please use paper or binder clips). Pages must be numbered.  No folders, binders or covers will be accepted.  This paper application should be submitted with a postmark or hand-delivered by 5 pm on January 4, 2011 to Colorado Humanities offices.

Applicants who use software other than Microsoft Word and Excel must include the questions and budget as worded and formatted on the original forms.

All applicants, please also email a Word, Excel or pdf of your application narrative and budget by January 4, 2011 to

Media Supplement
Applications which include the production of media (including printed publications) must include the "Media Supplement."  You may request this form from the Colorado Humanities staff.

Budget Form and Budget Narrative
Please use the space allocated to:
a)  list item amounts in the appropriate columns;
b)  type in the left hand column a very brief description of how you arrived at the amount:  e.g., "200 miles @ .39 per mile = $78"; or ("$5 per hour x 10 hours x 4 people = $200"). 
Please confine your description to the space provided on the budget form.  If additional space is required, provide entire item descriptions on a separate attachment, and note the attachment in the space provided for Budget Items/Description on the Budget Form.

General Budget Information
The only program expenses that may be charged to Colorado Humanities Grant Funds, Third-Party Cash, In-kind or Other Cash, are expenses which will occur after the Colorado Humanities grant is awarded.  Out-of-pocket expenses, donated planning time and other budget items involved in preparing the Colorado Humanities grant application cannot be included in the program budget.

Indirect Costs
Colorado Humanities grant funds may not be applied to indirect costs. 

Matching Moneys Available for Your Project
Third Party Cash gifts may be eligible to be certified by Colorado Humanities to the National Endowment for the Humanities matching program. Normally, all Third Party Cash gift monies authorized for match must be certified by Colorado Humanities before any Colorado Humanities grant funds can be released.  Requests for exceptions to this rule must be included in the proposal.  Feel free to call Colorado Humanities staff for clarification. All anticipated matching funds must be approved as part of the program proposal, and must be used to support the program as approved by Colorado Humanities. 

Third Party Cash donors must qualify as an "outside source" -- that is, funds cannot come directly from the treasury of the sponsoring organization(s), a person (or close relative of a person) directly involved in the project, or federal funds.  Third party gifts donated to the sponsoring organization for discretionary purposes may be eligible for match. Contributions cannot directly benefit the donor -- for instance, they cannot be used to purchase services from the donor.  The contribution must be cash (not services or facilities) and made payable to the sponsoring organization.  

Public Access to Project Information

Information about programs funded by Colorado Humanities, excluding salary and detailed budget information, may be reviewed upon written request.  Colorado Humanities staff can provide samples of successful applications.  Information on program applications not funded by Colorado Humanities may be released only with the written consent of the applicant organization. 
Colorado Humanities will release the following information concerning programs not funded

  • Name of the sponsoring organization
  • Name of the program director
  • Program title

(please round off figures to the nearest dollar)
1.  Honoraria
Include fees for all speakers, panelists and other key personnel who are humanities scholars.  Colorado Humanities has adopted a scale that suggests honorarium amounts depending on the level of activity asked of participants in typical public programs. If you wish to include an out-of-state expert or someone who commands a speaker's fee in excess of the suggested honorarium, you must explain the value of the individual to the project.

Participating scholars
$ 50 - 100    A panelist or discussion leader serving as reactor, where little preparation is required
$100 - 150     A panelist or speaker required to prepare brief remarks on an assigned topic
$150 - 300    A speaker required to make a presentation involving substantial preparation
$300 - 500    A scholar required to conduct original research and/or prepare a major presentation

Consulting Scholars
$100 - 200    Per day-for planning and consulting

Outside Evaluator
$150    One or two lectures
$250 - 300    A short, multi-part program (e.g., a 3-4 part lecture series or one-day symposium)
$300 - 400    A longer, multi-part program

2.  Program Director & Support Staff
Although you may include full or partial salaries for program personnel as a cost applied to the grant, Colorado Humanities prefers that such salaries (or a significant portion) be donated as an in-kind contribution so that the greatest proportion of Colorado Humanities funds will go to program activities.  Donated salaries should be included as inkind at the rate the individual would normally receive for this type of activity.

3.  Travel
Include all cost of travel, lodging, and meals for out-of-town personnel.  Travel by program director(s) and fiscal agent should include travel to Denver for the mandatory grant briefing workshop (non metro-Denver residents only).  Local travel cannot be reimbursed from grant funds, but may be counted as an in-kind contribution.  Travel is reimbursed at .39 cents per mile, or, if necessary, the actual cost of economy or coach fare, whichever is less.  Mileage should be established in advance, using a mileage chart.  Travel and per diem costs may also be included as inkind contributions.  For example, if a speaker donates the mileage, or stays with friends in the destination city, equivalent amounts should be included as inkind contributions. Colorado Humanities allows up to $95 per night for lodging in Colorado, and $50 per day for meals (Breakfast, $10; Lunch, $12; Dinner, $23; incidentals, $5).

4.  Supplies & Materials
Consumables and items that have short-term usefulness, such as office supplies, etc.

5. Printing
Costs of printing brochures, flyers, posters, and other promotional items.  Be sure to include an extra 30 copies of brochures and 2 copies of posters for Colorado Humanities.  You should obtain several professional estimates before completing this budget item.  Any artistic, design, or layout time contributed by program volunteers should be included in the inkind column.

6. Postage
Any postage for mailing large numbers of brochures, invitations, press releases, or other items should be included here.  Be sure to quote non-profit bulk mailing rates if available to your group.

7. Media Advertising
Under the inkind column you should include the estimated value of feature articles you expect to solicit, free newsletter space, public service announcement time, radio or TV interview time, etc.  These should be valued at the amount of money it would cost to purchase a similar amount of column inches of advertising, radio or TV time, etc.  If you plan to use grant funds for publicity, you should explain the expense.

8. Facilities, Equipment, Telephone, etc.
Include the cost of renting program venue space or equipment.  Only costs of long-distance calls may be included under grant funds.  Other telephone costs may be donated as an inkind contribution.

9. Other/Fees
If you plan to charge a fee, indicate the amount you will charge and the items in your program budget that the fee will cover.  Examples: "$3.50 per person -- lunch cost"; "$2.50 per participant to cover cost of printed program materials." All fees you charge must be applied to specific budget items in the "other cash" column of your program budget.  Colorado Humanities requires that there be a fee waiver provision whenever a fee is charged for a Colorado Humanities-funded program, so that no one will be excluded because of inability to pay.