Humanities Lab

Experimentation is as foundational to the humanities as it is to science. All of us who do humanities work need time and space to feed our own creativity and learn from each other. That is what the Humanities Lab is for.

Now in its second year, this program provides a space for organizations to experiment with new program ideas, learn about program models, and push their own practices in exciting directions. Participants will meet for regular learning sessions as a cohort while simultaneously developing a new project idea.

NJCH will provide funding to support both participation in the program and to pilot new projects.

An introductory webinar was held March 16, 2023.
Webinar recording | Presentation slides

Humanities Lab

At a Glance

At a Glance

Participating organizations will receive guided learning and funding to experiment with new programs. This support includes:

  • Cohort learning, individual meetings, and regular assignments
  • Optional additional meetups after the program
  • A community in which to create a new humanities project
  • $500 program participation award, followed by up to $5,000 in project funding

Is my organization eligible? | Apply now »

Program Components

The program consists of guided learning and project development, culminating in a pilot project supported with up to $5,000 in funding from NJCH.

Learning & Project Work

  • Cohort learning sessions (2 hours each) that include guest speakers, case studies of public humanities projects, and time to workshop project ideas.
  • Individual meetings between participants and NJCH staff to collaborate on project development.
  • Assignments that break down the project development process.
  • At the end of the learning sessions, participants will create a plan and budget for their new project.
  • Participants who wish to pilot their new project will be guaranteed funding up to $5,000, with final funding decisions made by the cohort themselves.
  • Optional cohort meet-ups continue during the pilot project period for ongoing community support.

Funding

  • Each organization selected for Humanities Lab receives an award of $500 to support time spent on program work.
  • After the learning sessions, each participating organization may submit their new project proposal for additional funding up to $5,000 to pilot that new project.
  • Participant organizations are not required to pilot their projects at this stage, but the funding is guaranteed if they wish to do so.
  • Please note: this additional funding is only available at the time of the program. Proposals will be reviewed by members of the Lab cohort and awards finalized collectively.
  • Organizations participating in Humanities Lab (during the cohort or during pilot projects) are not eligible to apply for other awards from NJCH (including Grants, Community History, Informed NJ, or a sponsorship) until the final report has been approved and the award has been closed.

Who is this program for?

Humanities Lab is a process-driven program for those who have either not begun or are very early in the process of developing a project. Participant organizations are required to attend all program activities and follow the Lab’s process for developing projects.

This is not a grant program. If your organization is working on an established idea or project, Humanities Lab is not the place for you. (But an NJCH grant might be!) Consider applying to the Humanities Lab if you: 

  • Have an idea for a project but need time and support to develop it.
  • Want to expand your programming or explore new ways of engaging with audiences.
  • Have too many ideas and would benefit from a sounding board of cohort organizations and experts.
  • Are not a humanities-missioned organization but think the public humanities would provide new outlet for your work.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Nonprofit, state/local government, or unincorporated groups are eligible.
  • For-profit organizations and individuals unaffiliated with an eligible organization are not eligible.
  • Organization must be based in New Jersey.
  • Must commit to participating in all program activities.
  • Up to 3 organizational representatives can be selected, including paid staff, volunteers, or community members.
  • Current NJCH grantees or program participants are not eligible to apply until their previous awards are closed.

Encouraged to Apply

  • Small organizations with budgets less than $500,000.
  • Organizations that prioritize the perspectives of traditionally marginalized people.* We invite you to explain the unique perspective of your community in your application.
  • Non-humanities-missioned organizations, such as arts, social services, community or neighborhood groups, science or environmental, and cultural organizations.
  • Organizations that have not received NJCH funding in the recent past.

*For example, but not limited to: organizations whose primary mission, intentions, and practices are by, for, and about the art, culture, and histories of people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, non-English speakers, recent immigrants, etc.

If you’re not sure if Humanities Lab is right for you or you have questions that you’d like to talk through before applying, get in touch. You can schedule a virtual meeting or email questions to Gigi Naglak, NJCH’s Director of Programs, at gnaglak@njhumanities.org.

Timeline for 2024

  • Application deadline: April 30
  • Notification of decisions: by May 17
  • Cohort learning sessions: Exact times and locations TBD
    • week of June 17 - in person, 10:00-2:00 (including lunch)
    • week of July 8 - virtual, 10:00-noon
    • week of July 22 - virtual, 10:00-noon
    • week of August 5 - 10:00-2:00 (including lunch)
  • Individual project review meetings: August-September (virtual, by signup)
  • Final project plan and budget due: September 5
  • Cohort meeting: Late September or early October (in-person, TBD)
  • Pilot Project Period: October 1, 2024-September 30, 2025
  • Final reports due: 90 days after close of project