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Notice of Funding Opportunity: Climate Smart Humanities Organizations Program (US)

Notice of Funding Opportunity: Climate Smart Humanities Organizations Program (US)

Deadline: 9-Aug-24

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Office of Challenge Programs is accepting applications for the Climate Smart Humanities Organizations program.

  • The Climate Smart Humanities Organizations (Climate Smart) program strengthens the institutional base of the humanities by funding operational assessments and strategic planning efforts to sustain and protect historical, cultural, educational, intellectual, and physical assets from the risks of climate change. Projects must improve a humanities organization’s capacity to respond to a changing climate through operational and/or risk assessments and result in physical or digital planning document(s) outlining specific mitigation and/or adaptation actions the organization will implement over time. Climate Smart supports individual and consortium projects, and requires certification of an equal amount of third-party, non-federal gifts to release NEH funds.
  • Some examples of potential climate smart projects are:
    • A university museum seeks to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet campus-wide “net-zero” targets. Assessments include energy audits of the museum building and off-site storage, evaluation of mechanical systems, and calculation of the carbon footprint of daily operations. Working with university facilities and outside consultants, the museum establishes a step-by-step climate action plan that details operational and physical changes to meet zero emissions, along with required resources. The non-federal match is met through a state sustainability grant and targeted donations from university alumni.
    • An archive located adjacent to a river analyzes the costs, risks, and benefits of adapting its current building to meet increasing flood hazards; renovating or relocating an existing building farther inland; or building a new, purpose-built structure outside of the local community. Assessment activities include working with local experts to identify projected flood hazards, pre-decisional cost estimates for renovation and new construction, and community listening sessions. The resulting climate adaptation plan summarizes the result of assessment activities and provides data for the organization’s leadership, local officials, and community members to better understand possible hazards and evaluate each option, while ensuring that important humanities-based research materials remain accessible to all stakeholders. Matching funds are raised through a non-federal community development grant program.
    • Three historic homes in the same town establish a consortium to coordinate resilience efforts through individual and joint strategic planning. One historic home submits the proposal and coordinates the award, including regular meetings and a joint training workshop for board members and staff of participant organizations. In addition, each site works individually with a consultant to consider historically appropriate building, programming, and grounds interventions that might reduce energy consumption and improve the visitor experience at each location. The project results in climate resilience plans specific to each house and a formal partnership agreement to develop a shared offsite collection storage space that is more energy efficient, reduces costs, and protects humanities collections from climate-related hazards. The board members of each historic home contribute the required matching funds and supply a pledge letter with the application.
Project Design 
  • Climate smart strategic planning focuses on two distinct but related types of activities that increase resilience:
    • mitigation planning focuses on reducing your institution’s environmental impact and energy costs
    • adaptation planning prepares for and adjusts to actual and expected climate change scenarios to protect humanities-focused institutional assets and facilities.
Funding Information
  • NEH anticipates awarding approximately $2,500,000 to an estimated 10-20 recipients per deadline.
  • You may request up to $300,000 in federal matching funds, which must be met at a 1:1 ratio by third-party, non-federal gifts. You may propose a budget of up to $600,000 ($300,000 from NEH plus $300,000 in matching funds). Your request should be appropriate to your organization’s ability to meet the required match, the number of participating organizations, and the goals of the project. In general, NEH anticipates that budgets for projects proposed by individual organizations will be less than those proposed by consortiums.
  • You may request a period of performance up to 24 months. The period of performance is the time during which you may incur expenses to carry out the work under the award. It must start on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month.
  • If you apply for the 2024 deadline, you must request a period of performance start date between May 1 and September 1, 2025.
  • If you apply for the 2025 deadline, you must request a period of performance start date between May 1 and September 1, 2026.
Eligibility Criteria
  • To be eligible to apply, your organization must be established in the United States or its jurisdictions as one of the following:
    • a nonprofit organization recognized as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
    • an accredited institution of higher education (public or nonprofit)
    • a state or local government or one of their agencies
    • a federally recognized Native American Tribal government
  • Individuals and other organizations, including foreign and for-profit entities, are ineligible.
  • If your organization is eligible, you may apply on behalf of a consortium of collaborating organizations. If NEH selects your proposal for funding, you will be programmatically, legally, and fiscally responsible for the award.
  • The recipient may not function solely as a fiscal agent but should make substantive contributions to the success of the project.
  • Institutions of higher education, municipalities, and local and tribal governments may apply to develop a climate action plan for one or more humanities-based subunits, such as a library, archive, or museum. Your proposal should focus exclusively on creating strategic planning documents specifically for those humanities-based subunits.
  • Institution-specific foundations specifically created for the purpose of raising money for a single, humanities-based entity, such as a university or a museum, may serve as the legal recipient.
  • The institution-specific foundation must have a memorandum or other form of legal agreement in place designating it as the agent for the recipient for soliciting and receiving donations for the Climate Smart Humanities Organizations award.

For more information, visit NEH.

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