Humanities Indicators
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Funding & Research  >  Federal Funding for the Humanities
Distribution of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Program Funding among Activity Types
(Updated October 2015)

Some of the program monies distributed by the NEH are allocated according to a legislatively mandated formula, and the remainder is distributed at the discretion of the agency within its programmatic divisions, each of which receives a set appropriation from Congress. Most of these discretionary funds are made available through a competitive process involving peer review.[1]

Findings and Trends

  • Just over 37% of all Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 NEH program funding was distributed under the Federal/State Partnership program, with monies going to state humanities councils to support their administrative and programmatic operations (Indicator IV-1e). This level was an increase of three percentage points over the FY 2013 distribution.
  • After the substantial proportion of NEH funding going to the state humanities councils, the largest share of program monies (14.5%) went for preservation and access activities focused “on ensuring the long-term and wide availability of primary resources in the humanities,” such as production of reference materials and resources, the digitization of historically significant newspapers, and the documentation of endangered languages.
  • The Division of Research Programs received 13% of the agency’s funding. Most research funding was distributed in the form of fellowships and stipends to college and university faculty members, as well as to independent scholars. While the NEH briefly provided support for dissertation completion during the 1990s, the agency has not traditionally made awards to graduate students. And unlike such federal science agencies as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, the NEH has never made awards to postdoctoral students.
  • Public programs and education-related activities each received around 11.5% of the NEH program funds. Public programs brought the humanities to diverse audiences via television, film, web sites, museum exhibitions, and other means, while funding for education supported the professional development of humanities educators at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels.
  • The agency distributed 7.7% of its program funding in the form of challenge grants. Such grants are intended to enhance existing local, state and national humanities programs and institutions.
  • Four percent of NEH program monies went for grants and other awards specifically targeting the digital humanities through the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH), which funds “projects that explore how to harness new technology for humanities research as well as those that study digital culture from a humanistic perspective.” Activities funded by this office are often interdisciplinary and subsidized in conjunction with other entities, both public and private. Scholars and projects with a substantial digital component receive funds under all NEH program areas, as a result, the percentage of funds allocated to ODH understates the share of NEH monies given to support digital projects and materials.
IV-1e: Distribution of National Endowment for the Humanities Program Funds* among Activity Types, Fiscal Year 2014

* Funds distributed included those for new grants, supplemental grants, program contracts, and other program-related purposes. Included are awards that were made by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) using funds appropriated by Congress, transferred to NEH by other federal agencies, and/or contributed by nonfederal entities.

Source: National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Planning and Budget, “Summary of Grants and Awards, FY 2014,” (provided to the Humanities Indicators upon request).

About this DataRelated Indicators


[1] The NEH is a grant-making agency that through its various programs distributes the bulk of its annual appropriation from Congress to organizations and individuals for a variety of humanities activities. The NEH’s program funding also includes monies it receives via interagency agreements and private donations, but these represent a small proportion of the agency’s total programmatic budget.