NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grants

NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grants provide funding to help humanities organizations respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Application Opens: May 13th 2020
Application Deadline: May 29th 2020 at 11:59 PM

The North Carolina Humanities Council is providing NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grants for North Carolina nonprofit cultural organizations experiencing hardships due to the pandemic. This grant funding is available via the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal CARES Act. NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grants supports eligible expenses in two categories:

  1. Funding to maintain existing humanities programming/services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  2. Funding to innovate, adapt, and strengthen access to humanities programming/services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Support for staff salary for employee retention
  • Support for basic institutional and operational costs such as purchasing equipment or systems (i.e. technology and communication systems)
  • Rent/Utilities which directly support humanities programming
  • Support for disaster-related professional development for staff and volunteers
  • Support to secure and protect property and collections
  • Other general operating costs which support humanities programming
  • Support to create new digital programs that patrons can access on personal devices
  • Support to digitize collections and make them available online
  • Other humanities program adaptations required due to COVID-19 response (i.e. social distancing)

Please see our NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grant specific Grant Guidelines for a sample list of eligible requests and a full list of ineligible expenses.


  • Organization must be located in North Carolina.
  • Organization must have a DUNs number.
  • Organization must not be presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from receiving federal grants.
  • Organization demonstrates a hardship due to the pandemic or the impact of following public health recommendations taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections locally.
  • Organization must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit humanities organization or tax-exempt government entity with a significant humanities focus:
  • ELIGIBLE: Organizations with a track record of a commitment to the humanities – including, but not limited to, archives, cultural centers, community cultural heritage organizations, historic sites, historic preservation organizations, historical societies, literature organizations that provide public humanities programming, museums, public libraries, humanities media/film organizations.
  • INELIGIBLE: For-profits, individuals, chapters of national organizations, universities/colleges/academic departments, K-12 schools, visual/performance/literary arts organizations, political or advocacy organizations, social science research or policy study organizations, organizations that do not have a stated commitment to humanities programming, or organizations which provide programs or services limited solely to the members of a particular religious group. Note: A program run by an agency with a religious affiliation may be granted funds, but only if the program is not religion-based and grant allocation funds are clearly not used for religious activities. 
  • Please note, no grant match is required.

Grant Funding Levels

Based on the availability of funds and expected need, the Council has implemented caps on requests. The caps are related to annual operating expenses.

  • Annual Operating Expenses of $0 – 50,000 = Request Cap of $5,000
  • Annual Operating Expenses of $50,000 – 150,000 = Request Cap of $10,000
  • Annual Operating Expenses of $150,000 – 500,000 = Request Cap of $15,000
  • Annual Operating Expenses of $500,000+ = Request Cap of $20,000


Applications that meet one or more of the following criteria will be given priority: 

  • Organizations who do not receive significant public support
  • Organizations in rural communities
  • Organizations serving traditionally under-resourced groups including communities of color or other marginalized groups

How to Apply

  1. Please review the Council's Grant Guidelines (NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grant specific) before applying. 
  2. Review the online application system instructions and FAQs then watch this video tutorial on the online application system.
  3. Get started on your application by following one of the two options below: We regret that feedback cannot be given on draft applications.
      • A. If you are new to the online systemplease create an account prior to applying. Once you have created your account and are logged in to your Applicant Dashboard, click "Apply" in the upper left-hand corner to view an alphabetical list of all open Council opportunities. Please bookmark the login page for ease of access.
      • B. If you have previously created an account, please click here to login. Once on your Applicant Dashboard click "Apply" in the upper left-hand corner to view an alphabetical list of all open Council opportunities. Please bookmark the login page for ease of access.
  4. We anticipate that decisions will be announced 15 business days after the submission deadline, however this is subject to the volume of applications received. All decisions will be announced via our online application management system.

    Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Submission of an application does not guarantee approval. Due to the high volume of applications we will not be able to provide comments on award decisions.
    The North Carolina Humanities Council, its affiliates and staff, are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Consult with your professional tax advisor and/or attorney for specific issues including CARES Act and the use of funds from any award.