Action Grants ($2,000 to $20,000) support the implementation of new projects or existing programs. The most competitive applications describe audience needs and propose ways to address them through the humanities.


If you know what to do and have a plan to launch your project, an Action Grant is for you.

These grants can help you implement new projects developed through previous Incubation Grants or other planning processes. Or they can support the continuation or expansion of longstanding programs. We encourage you to set a bold vision for your programming and experiment with new topics and program designs.


Action Grants are different from Incubation Grants because:
  • The majority of the work of the grant project is about implementation – not planning – regardless of the size of the grant. A small event might only require a $3,000 Action Grant while a large planning process might require a $15,000 Incubation Grant.
  • These projects are ready for prime time. A strong Action Grant proposal will be able to clearly articulate a program’s objectives, plan, and timeline.
  • Even very new projects can be appropriate for Action Grants. If the planning and development work has been done and the pilot is ready to go, your project will be more competitive as an Action Grant. If there is still substantial planning and development you wish to do, then an Incubation Grant is a better option.
  • You know what and who you need to make your project successful. You are able to articulate the component parts through your grant application and budget. There are very few questions you have left to answer before you’re ready to get the show on the road.

Still not sure if this grant is right for your project? NJCH staff is available to help you determine the appropriate type of funding for your proposed project.


The most competitive grant proposals support one or more of the Council’s primary goals:
  • to build new audiences for the humanities.
  • to bring people of different perspectives and backgrounds together.
  • to explore new program models.
  • to create lively humanities opportunities around the state.

Action Grants focus on implementation. Only projects that are clearly ready to be implemented will be competitive in this type of grant.

Consider the following questions and tips as you develop your application:
  • There are no exceptions to our application deadlines. Early is the new on time. Do not wait until the last minute!
  • Tell us a story. Quantifiable data is a huge selling point, but we also want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and why it’s significant.
  • Your audience is the heart and soul of your project. Who are you serving and what role do they play in your project and for your organization?
  • Questionable budgets strike fear in the heart of funders. It’s a bad idea to either inflate or underestimate your budget. If you don’t have a good idea of what your project is going to cost, you are not ready to submit a grant application.
  • Your budget tells a story. Make sure that story matches the one you’re telling in your narrative. There should be obvious connections between the expenses outlined in your budget and the activities outlined in your narrative.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid generalizations, flowery language, and hyperbole. Don’t write more than you need to. And by all means – proofread!
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. It’s great if you can reach a lot of people with your program or make a big splash. But it’s also great to allow a smaller group to explore an idea with considerable depth.

NJCH staff is here to help. Promise! We can help you conceive your project, give feedback on a draft of your application, help you find a scholar or other expert, connect you with an evaluator, help you identify community partners, and so much more. We also provide workshops that help you understand the grant program and delve deeply into its most important aspects.


Each Action Grant proposal is evaluated on the following measures:

The project deeply engages with the humanities and relies on informed resources to pursue complex questions and ideas. It creates opportunities for critical thinking and analysis and pushes participants towards broader perspectives. It includes at least one humanities expert on the project team.

The project is designed to serve an audience or community. It involves the public in its conception and execution, either before, during, or after the grant period. The applicant seeks to engage underrepresented or underserved audiences and finds ways to bring together people of different backgrounds and experience. Rather than presenting information to passive participants, the project offers opportunities for dialogue or response.

Applicant has a clear vision for the project and has set goals. The project is connected to the organization’s mission and objectives. The project is meaningful for the organization and its public, fuels creativity, and pushes the organization to expansive and ambitious thinking.

Plan and Budget
The project is supported by a well-conceived plan, identifies clear outcomes or deliverables, and articulates a reasonable budget that reflects the work plan. The budget shows thoughtful consideration of what will be needed to implement the project.

The applicant articulates a plan for assessing project results and determining next steps. Assessment criteria are clearly connected to the project’s goals.

The organization is capable of executing the proposed project and has assembled an appropriate project team to do so.




Please note: Organizations can apply for either Incubation or Action Grants during each grant round.


Letter of Intent: September 14-30, 2020
Drafts accepted: Through October 16, 2020
Application Deadline: October 29, 2020
Award Notification: By December 23, 2020
Projects Begin: Within 3 months of award


Letter of Intent: March 1-15, 2021
Application Deadline: April 15, 2021
Award Notification: By June 25, 2021
Projects Begin: Within 3 months of award




Grants Officer
609-695-4838 x221