American Rescue Plan – Grant Program

Sustaining Humanities through the American Rescue Plan


General Operating Support Grants


Humanities Project Support Grants


Humanities Tennessee announced grants from the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP), made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on March 11, 2021. This program distributed more than $940,000 in grants to organizations across the state of Tennessee.

SHARP grants supported jobs in the humanities, kept humanities organizations open, and assisted the field in its response to and recovery from the needs created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants may focus on humanities projects or leveraging operational support stemming the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They may also help organizations plan for the future and begin the long process of response and recovery to the pandemic.

SHARP grants are designed to support Tennessee-based organizations doing work in the public humanities. Humanities Tennessee offers two different awards through this program:

  • General Operating Support (GOS) grants are available for nonprofit organizations with a primary mission of public humanities education.
  • Humanities Project Support (HPS) grants are available to nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is not public humanities (e.g., arts, sciences, or community/social services organizations) to undertake a public humanities project.

In order to apply, you must request a grant application (below) through our website.  We will provide eligible applicants access to the application portal. This grant program is now closed.

SHARP Calendar

  • NOW — Request access to the application (below)
  • September 30, 2021 — Application access is available to eligible participants
  • November 30, 2021 — Final Deadline
  • December 31, 2021 — Award Notification
  • January 1, 2022-November 30, 2022—-Project Period
  • February 28, 2023—Final Reports Due


Applicants may request between $5,000 and $20,000 for either General Operating or Humanities Project support . Final award amounts will be determined during review of the entire applicant pool. Priority will be given to applicants with annual budgets under $1,000,000.

While there is no matching requirement for this award, the final report provides space for cost-sharing details of HPS grants. Operating support costs incurred since March 15, 2021 are eligible to be covered. Details of the use of SHARP grant funds include:

The following include eligible costs for General Operating Support (GOS) grants:

  • General operating costs, including staff support and administrative costs.
  • Public humanities programs (new and existing)
  • Strategic planning and capacity building related to coronavirus impacts.
  • Technical or consulting needs related to digital transition or access.
  • Expansion of outdoor and/or virtual activities and increase in access to those activities for target populations.
  • Equity assessments and planning related to coronavirus and attendant economic crisis.


The following include eligible costs for Humanities Project Support (HPS) grants:

  • Staff and operational costs associated with humanities programs (existing and new).
  • Contract or temporary labor for humanities programs.
  • Planning and development of new humanities programs, or re-imagining or revision of existing programs.
  • Technical or consulting needs related to digital transition or access.
  • Expansion of outdoor and/or virtual activities and increase in access to those activities for target populations.
  • Strategic planning or capacity building activities related to coronavirus impacts.
  • **Please note: All HPS grant funds must be used for expenses associated with the humanities program(s) featured in the application. This is particularly important for applicants to keep in mind when determining what organizational expenses (such as staff costs or overhead) can be included in your request. All expenses must be humanities program related.


The following costs are NOT eligible for support by SHARP Grants:

  • Overlapping project costs with any other pending or approved application(s) for federal funding and/or approved federal awards
  • General public humanities programming activities that are not related to the intended purpose of the funds.
  • Funds for activities supported by other non-NEH federal funds 
  • Competitive re-granting
  • Cancellation costs
  • Pre-award costs dating to before March 15, 2021
  • Equipment costs in excess of 20% of total project costs, or $5,000.00. Equipment is defined as tangible, nonexpendable property having a useful life of more than a year.
  • Travel (both foreign and domestic)


Tennessee-based nonprofits serving Tennesseans are eligible for either a SHARP GOS or HPS grant, such as:  museums, libraries, historical societies, public television and radio corporations, arts organizations, churches and religious organizations, neighborhood and community groups, social service organizations. 

Additionally, the applicant must:


  • Be an accredited public and 501(c)(3) institution, non-profit organization or tax-exempt entity (must have an existing EIN)
  • Have a DUNS number
  • Not presently be debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from receiving federal grants

The following applicants are NOT eligible for SHARP funding:

  • For-profit entities
  • Individuals
  • Municipality or government agencies.  Exception: entities such as libraries, parks or K-12 schools may apply through their support group, e.g.: public library foundations
  • Universities, colleges, academic departments
  • Political or advocacy organizations
  • Unincorporated associations
  • Fiscally sponsored organizations
  • Foreign organizations

Please note:  organizations whose core mission falls outside of public humanities education (including the creation or performance of art; creative writing, autobiographies, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and quantitative social science research or policy studies) are not eligible to receive a GOS grant but may be eligible for a HPS grant.


The SHARP Grant program seeks to benefit Tennesseans experiencing pandemic-related hardship through the organizations that serve them, in particular those disproportionately affected by issues arising from the public health crisis, including under-resourced, rural and BIPOC communities.

Proposals are reviewed by an outside panel according to the following criteria, and grants are made by the Humanities Tennessee Board based on the panel’s recommendations:


  • Does the applicant demonstrate hardship due to the pandemic and the related social, economic and structural effects that impede its service to the community?
  • Does the grant contribute to diversity and inclusion in humanities programming by reaching underserved, under-resourced, rural and BIPOC organizations and their audiences?
  • Will the grant address the applicant’s needs to respond to and/or recover from the pandemic? To the needs of its audience and community?
  • Overall, does the applicant contribute to inclusive and robust public humanities offerings in TN? 


Please review additional SHARP materials for more information: 

Detailed Guidelines


SHARP Operating Support Grant Examples

SHARP Humanities Sample Project_Program Activities

SHARP Budget Worksheet

Application Questions

Panelist Evaluation Rubric

Please join us for a virtual webinar via Zoom, “Applying for a SHARP Grant,” coming in October and November.  Registration available here beginning September 30, 2021.

Virtual Office Hours

Humanities Tennessee will be hosting a series of virtual Zoom meetings about the SHARP Grant program. We will give an overview of the application process in the first twenty minutes followed by time for Q&A. These sessions will run for one hour each, or as long as questions remain. You will need to register for each session separately . Attendance at the sessions is not required for applicants but intended as help sessions and to answer questions.