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 August 2018)

Some of the program monies distributed by NEH are allocated to states and jurisdictions according to a legislatively mandated formula, and the remaining funds are distributed at the discretion of the agency within its other 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

  • In fiscal year 2017, 41.5% of all 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).
  • After the substantial proportion of NEH funding going to the state humanities councils, the largest shares of program monies (14.3% each) were directed toward preservation and access and research and activities. The preservation and access funds are focused, according to the agency, “on ensuring the long-term and wide availability of primary resources in the humanities . . . [by] preserving cultural heritage materials and making them available to scholars, teachers, and the general public.”[2] Most research funding was distributed in the form of fellowships and stipends to support projects of significance to specific humanities disciplines and to the field as a whole.
  • Public programs received 13.1% of NEH program funds. Public programs are intended to bring the humanities to diverse audiences via mass media, websites, museum exhibitions, and other means.
  • Education-related activities received 11.7% of NEH’s program funds to support curricular and professional development at both the K–12 and postsecondary levels.
  • Almost 5% 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.”[3] Activities with a substantial digital component receive funds under all NEH program areas, thus the percentage of funds allocated to ODH understates the share of monies NEH invests in digital projects and materials.
IV-1e: Distribution of National Endowment for the Humanities Program Funds* among Activity Types, Fiscal Year 2017

* 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 Evaluation (data provided upon request). Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (

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[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.
[2] National Endowment for the Humanities, “About the Division of Preservation and Access,” (accessed 7/25/2018).
[3] National Endowment for the Humanities, “About the Office of Digital Humanities,” (accessed 7/25/2018).