NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants

Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Note the matching/cost-share requirements referenced in the Award Information and Matching Requirements section below.

Program Summary

The purpose of the Challenge Grants program is to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by enabling infrastructure development and capacity building. Awards aim to help institutions secure long-term support for their core activities and expand efforts to preserve and create access to outstanding humanities materials. The program funds two distinct types of projects, each with its own notice of funding opportunity:

  • Capital Projects supports the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities.  This includes the purchase and installation of related moveable and permanently affixed equipment for exhibiting, maintaining, monitoring, and protecting collections (whether on exhibit or in storage), and for critical building systems, such as electrical, heating ventilation and air conditioning, security, life safety, lighting, utilities, telecommunications, and energy management.  
  • Digital Infrastructure supports the maintenance, modernization, and sustainability of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST July 5, 2021

NEH Application Deadline: September 28, 2021

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Category: Capital Projects or Digital Infrastructure
  • Project Summary (2-3 pages maximum): Please describe: 1) the significance of the humanities activities to be undertaken and the audiences to be served; 2) how the project directly and indirectly helps the institution achieve long-term goals for its work in the humanities; 3) the project team, collaborators and specialists involved including fundraising personnel; and 4) the anticipated deliverables and outcomes.
  • Matching Commitment Letter: Please provide a letter from a dean or chair including a list of potential donors and detail the strategies to be used for securing matching funds.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit:


U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply, provided that they work wholly or in part with the humanities: they must support research, education, preservation, or public programming in the humanities. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education. Affiliated institutions (for example, a university museum) with separate 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status are also eligible to apply.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Institutions may apply for only one NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant per calendar year.

Award Information and Matching Requirements

Award Amount: $750,000

Estimated Number of Awards: 12-15 total including capital projects and digital infrastructure

Period of Performance: 5 years

Matching Requirements: NEH will offer successful applicants federal matching funds. The requested grant amount should be appropriate to the humanities needs and the fundraising capacity of the institution. Recipients must raise—from nonfederal third-party donors—three times the amount of federal funds offered for grants up to and including $500,000, and four times the amount of federal funds offered for grants in excess of $500,000. For example, a $500,000 grant requires a $1.5 million match; a $600,000 grant requires a $2.4 million match.

Review Criteria

Both capital and digital infrastructure projects will be assessed by the below criteria. See the specific guidelines for each program for specific evaluation questions.

  1. Humanities significance and audience
  2. Long-term impact and institutional commitment
  3. Project plans
  4. Fundraising plans
  5. Project and fundraising teams
  6. Project outcomes and their sustainability