Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Programs

Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO).

Program Summary 

The Whiting Foundation invites selected schools, scholarly societies, and other humanities institutions to nominate for the Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Seed Grant. These programs celebrate and empower early-career faculty who embrace public engagement as part of their scholarly vocation by funding ambitious, often collaborative projects to infuse into public life the richness and nuance that give the humanities their lasting value.

The Public Engagement Fellowship of $50,000 is for projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public. For the strongest Fellowship proposals, both the overall strategy and the practical plan to implement the project will be deeply developed, relationships with key collaborators will be in place, and connections with the intended public will have been cultivated. In some cases, the nominee and collaborators may have tested the idea in a pilot, or the project itself may already be underway.

The Public Engagement Seed Grant of up to $10,000 supports projects at a somewhat earlier stage of development than the Fellowship, before the nominee has been able to establish a specific track record of success for the proposed public-facing work. It is not, however, designed for projects starting entirely from scratch: nominees should have fleshed out a compelling vision, including a clear sense of whose collaboration will be required and the ultimate scope and outcomes. They should also have articulated specific short-term next steps required to advance the project and understand the resources required to complete them. We anticipate that a recipient might use the grant, for example, to test the project on a smaller scale or to engage deeply in planning with collaborators or the intended public.

These two programs are entirely separate: aspiring Fellows need not have received a Seed Grant, and receiving a Seed Grant does not automatically qualify a grantee for a future Fellowship. They fund similarly ambitious public-humanities work; it is the stage of a project that will determine the relevant program.

See the Whiting guidelines for full details around eligible projects and programs.


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

Sponsor Nomination Deadline: June 1, 2021

Sponsor First-Round Application Deadline: June 14, 2021

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Summary (2 pages maximum): Provide a compelling summary of your public-facing project, making clear the humanities content, format of engagement, and anything to be produced by the project (if applicable). Lay out all of the activities you and your collaborators will undertake and specify your desired outcomes as clearly as possible. Identify the partners who will be critical to the project’s success.
  • 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: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6577/home


Nominees must be full- or part-time humanities faculty in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. Faculty need not be on a tenure track to be eligible. Nominees must also be early-career: they should have received their doctorate between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2020.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Partner schools are invited to nominate one humanities professor for each program: one for the Fellowship program and one for the Seed Grant program.

Award Information

Fellowship Award Amount: $50,000

Seed Grant Award Amount: Up to $10,000

Review Criteria

  • Potential to engage the intended public. Is the project conceived with a public outside the academy in mind and designed carefully to engage them? Is the plan to reach that public explicit and robust? How significant will the engagement be, in terms of breadth and depth?
  • Ability to complete the project successfully. Is the project management plan sound, detailed, and tailored to achieve the intended outcomes? Does the candidate have the skills, resources, and collaborators needed to execute the project effectively in the proposed timeframe?
  • Intellectual value. Is the project rooted firmly in the programs’ focus humanities disciplines? Will it make a meaningful intellectual contribution with its audience, engaging them in the complexity and nuance of humanistic learning? Does it bring to bear the clarity, thoughtfulness, and profundity that characterize the best scholarship? What value does the participation of a scholar in a leadership role bring to the project intellectually?