As part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) grant program, our organization was awarded a $10,000 grant in 2021 by Humanities MT and the National Endowment for the Humanities. These general operating support grants were awarded to numerous Montana public humanities organizations & cultural institutions throughout the state. Operating support grants are rare, but so critical! Because of funding received from this grant, we were able to:
- Cover important operational costs necessary for successfully navigating and responding to the multitudinous challenges posed by Covid
- Continue offering regular free activities in the community
- Plan for future years.
Here is a snapshot of how we these funds were used (which also gives you an inkling of some of the behind-the-scenes operational costs involved in successfully running even the smallest of non-profits).
We are so grateful to Humanities MT & the National Endowment for the Humanities for their support of our organization! Thanks to their grant, we were able to cover important operational expenses & continue providing free activities for people in the Helena and surroundings communities. Operating support grants are rare….but so critical! What an amazing gift Humanities MT and the National Endowment for the Humanities is to organizations like ours and so many others! Thank you, thank you! – Marisa Diaz-Waian, Director of Merlin CCC
How Operational Support Translates to Programs that Benefit the Community and the Humanities at Large
By way of helping to cover these important operational costs, the SHARP grant benefitted not just our organization but the community at large and the field of humanities. Broadly speaking, our activities are a place for individuals to come together and cultivate their personal and civic selves by thinking together, critically, creatively, and philosophically. Given the range of topics we explored in our 2021 and 2022 programs, this means that community members explored, examined, reflected upon, and conversed about a variety of deeply human experiences including issues having to do with: justice and fairness, virtue, ethics, war/military, grief and loss, transformation, living as a community, and more.
While people can engage in this kind of deep thinking individually, rarely do they have a chance to do so together in the community as a community — to learn from and with one another in a focused, philosophical way.
What is more, in addition to the unique insights and perspectives encountered when people have an opportunity to engage in this fashion, community itself is developed, built, and nurtured…and not just any community, but a community of thinkers who — by virtue of the skills, dispositions, and attitudes that philosophy helps to cultivate — are dedicated to working together to understand the world, ourselves, and one another more robustly, responsibly, resiliently, and gracefully.
About Humanities Montana & NEH
Humanities Montana is an independent, nonprofit affiliate organization of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that provides support for educational and cultural public programs throughout the state.
As a humanities organization, they believe in the capacity of history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, and more to stimulate reflection, create knowledge, resolve problems, and inspire delight. They provide and support numerous public programs that encourage critical thinking, examine civic issues and other issues of concern, and deepen our understanding of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Their mission is to enrich the lives of all Montanans by fostering inquiry and stimulating civil and informed conversations about the human experience.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965 and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH promotes promoting excellence in the humanities and awards grants to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. NEH grants have the aim of:
- strengthening teaching and learning in schools and colleges
- facilitating research and original scholarship
- providing opportunities for lifelong learning
- preserving and providing access to cultural and educational resources
- strengthening the institutional base of the humanities