Supporting Jobs in the Humanities

Are you familiar with Loren Eiseley’s starfish story? The one in which an older man comes upon a small child throwing starfish that have been washed up by the tide back into the ocean. There’s no way the child could help them all, but his efforts made a difference for each one he tossed back into the water.

As we think about the impact the SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan) Grant program has made throughout Tennessee during the past year-and-a-half, we can cite big numbers and statistics which is exciting, such as $941,454 awards given to 91 organizations. Of that total, nearly $720,000 helped support 294 Tennessee jobs, in full or in part.

Imagine the difference this made to each person whose income continued, each organization whose programs sustained or grew, and each community member reached, in person or virtually.

Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia

“These funds from Humanities Tennessee will empower The Heritage Alliance of NE TN & SW VA to continue our regional educational programs and community outreach initiatives throughout 2022. Such efforts contribute to The Heritage Alliance’s mission of preserving the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region, and providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences. Specifically, this grant will offset lost revenue from 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and enable our organization to continue serving residents of and visitors to East Tennessee.”

One community, one program, one job at a time, the Congressionally appropriated American Rescue Plan funds achieved their purpose: to support jobs in the humanities, keep humanities organizations open, and assist the field in its response to and recovery from the needs created or exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Governor John Sevier Memorial Association

“Due to funding from Humanities Tennessee, Marble Springs State Historic Site will be able to rehire our Program Coordinator position allowing us to offer higher quality programs, events, and field trips that advance our mission in inspiring learning about the life and times of John Sevier through creative engagement. Our audience which includes regular visitors, members, and regional school children will benefit greatly from having a trained professional dedicated to our education efforts crafting fun and unique opportunities.”


Tennessee’s cultural organizations are among a seemingly endless list of those who have suffered serious impacts from the pandemic. These organizations are run by staff and volunteers who are our neighbors and fellow community members. While the SHARP Grant program provided vital relief and support, the need continues. Organizations like the Highlander Research and Education Center offer just one example:

Highlander Research and Education Center

“Humanities Tennessee funding will provide necessary staffing support for Highlander Research and Education Center in our 90th year as we expand our collection of archival materials through document recovery and preservation while creating digital resources for broader access.”

Throughout November and early December, Humanities Tennessee will continue to share the state-wide jobs impact from SHARP funds. HT is eagerly marshalling the impact of SHARP resources across the state, including the experiences and partnerships that arose from it. We are also looking ahead at strategies and partnerships that elevate our investment in public humanities programming, Tennessee’s cultural infrastructure, and outreach to traditionally under-represented audiences. We are poised to build on this momentum and enhance our contribution to public humanities in Tennessee.


See a full listing of Tennessee SHARP Grant Recipients


Subscribe to Humanities Tennessee’s newsletter to stay involved