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ACLS Digital Extension Grants


The program description below is for the 2015-16 competition for which the application deadline has passed. Pending renewal of funding, information on the 2016-17 ACLS Digital Extension Grants program will be provided on the website in late October 2016.

Grants Details

  • Amount (total grant amount): up to $150,000
  • Grants may be used to cover salary replacement, staffing, equipment and other costs.
  • Tenure: 12-18 months, to be initiated between July 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016
  • Completed applications must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system (ofa.acls.org) no later than 9 pm Eastern Standard Time, February 2, 2016.
  • Notifications will be sent to applicants by mid-May, 2016.

ACLS invites applications for the ACLS Digital Extension Grant program, made possible by the generous assistance of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This program supports digitally based research projects in all disciplines of the humanities and related social sciences. It is hoped that these grants will help advance the digital transformation of humanities scholarship by extending the reach of existing digital projects to new communities of users.

ACLS Digital Extension Grants will support teams of scholars as they enhance existing digital projects in ways that engage new audiences across a range of academic communities and institutions. To this end, projects supported by these grants may:

  • Extend existing digital projects and resources with content that adds diversity or interdisciplinary reach;
  • Develop new systems of making existing digital resources available to broader audiences and/or scholars from diverse institutions;
  • Foster new team-based work or collaborations that allow scholars from institutions with limited cyberinfrastructure to exploit digital resources
  • Create new forms and sites for scholarly engagement with the digital humanities. Projects that document and recognize participant engagement are strongly encouraged.

ACLS will award up to six Digital Extension Grants in this competition year. Each grant will provide up to $150,000 in funding, which may support a range of project costs, including, where necessary, salary replacement for faculty or staff, software, equipment, travel, or consultant fees. Institutional indirect costs will not be covered. ACLS grants may not support creative works (e.g., novels or films), textbooks, straightforward translations, or purely pedagogical projects.

TIMING: Grants may support projects of 12-18 months in duration. Projects must be initiated between July 1 and December 31, 2016, and completed no later than June 30, 2018. Project participants must commit themselves firmly to their preferred timeframe on their completed applications. These awards may be taken concurrently with fellowships covering the salary of a project’s principal investigator or co-investigators salary or other grant funding. Applicants must list current and past funding sources for their projects; in the case of joint funding sources for the project, applicants should indicate clearly in their budget plans how each source of project funding will be used during the ACLS grant period.

The demonstration of scholarly excellence in the humanities as well as the ability to extend the reach of existing resources to new communities of users will be the primary criteria for selection. Applications should discuss both the intellectual and programmatic ambitions of the project and its technological underpinnings. Proposals should specify how digital technologies add value to humanistic study.

Further, proposals will be evaluated relative to the technical requirements for completing a successful research project; evidence of significant preliminary work already completed; the comparative advantage of the proposed project as measured against other related or similar projects; and (as appropriate) those features of the proposal that would promote teamwork and collaboration in the course of the project. Successful proposals should also indicate how their projects articulate with the local infrastructure at their home institutions or the institutions hosting the projects.

All applications must include the endorsement of a senior administrator of the project’s home institution or the institution hosting the project. This endorsement should outline how the institution’s existing cyberinfrastructure complements and supports the technologies to be developed for the specified project.


  1. Projects must be hosted by an institution of higher education in the United States.
  2. Project’s principal investigator must be a scholar in a field of the humanities and the humanistic social sciences.
  3. Project’s principal investigator must have a PhD degree conferred prior to the application deadline. (An established scholar who can demonstrate the equivalent of the PhD in publications and professional experience may also qualify.)

Evaluation Criteria

Peer reviewers in this program are asked to evaluate all eligible proposals on the following five criteria:

  1. The project’s capacity to widen engagement with and extend the use of digital scholarship throughout the academy.
  2. The feasibility of extension and renewal plans.
  3. The project’s intellectual, technological, and institutional sustainability.
  4. The project’s intellectual scalability. Will it be widely used by the scholarly field it concerns?
  5. The project’s articulation with local infrastructure at the institution(s) at which the project and teams will be based.

Application Requirements

Applications must be submitted online and must include the following components. Please log in to our online portal for complete formatting guidelines for each component (including line spacing and font size):

  • An application form completed online by the designated team leader for the project.
  • A 10-page double-spaced proposal. The proposal should explain the proposed project development plan in relation to the objectives of the Digital Extension Grant Program. The narrative statement should explain, briefly but specifically, what the project team plans to do and why, and make clear the scholarly value of the project within its specific and general fields. The proposal must also provide a history of work on the project to date, and some measurement of the project’s current impact among target user communities (such as user metrics, reviews of past work, convenings of advisors to prepare the project for extension, vel sim.). Applicants should balance the description of specific work plans against an overview of the goals and the contribution the project will make to digital scholarship generally and toward the extension of digital humanities scholarship to new communities of use. Furthermore, proposals should explicitly state the means and tools (software, applications, interfaces) to be used to extend the project’s reach, content, and/or use. Proposals should present plans for how the project will be sustained and preserved over time, and how it will come to the notice of potential users. Proposals also should provide a brief, descriptive title, and label sections of the narrative as appropriate to assist readers.
  • A project timeline (no more than three double-spaced pages) providing a coherent plan for the development and execution of the project, including a description of tasks to be accomplished within the grant period. This plan should reflect a thoughtful approach to the project's extensibility.
  • A budget plan (no more than two pages) providing a detailed account of the proposed use of the grant funds. (ACLS makes available a sample budget for reference.) The ACLS Digital Extension Grant Program does not require supported research leave for project participants although grant funds may be used toward this purpose. If grant funds will support course buyout or other research leaves for project team members, the budget must itemize the funds dedicated toward the salary and benefits replacement of each relevant team member. Grant funds may not pay for institutional overhead; however, direct administrative costs, such as office expenses and an honorarium for office assistance, are allowed. If applicable, the budget plan should also reflect any proposed cost-sharing measures undertaken by the host institution or a third-party.
  • Applications must also include a statement concerning the intellectual property rights relating to software and content developed with grant funds. Applicants must commit in their application to: (a) making any software developed with grant funds available pursuant to an open source license located at www.opensource.org and in a public repository (such as Github or Sourceforge); (b) making any digital content broadly available; and (c) not infringing on third party rights with respect to the development, dissemination, and use of the software and/or digital content. In addition, the applicants should explain how they propose to maintain software developed with grant funds after the end of the grant term and for how long they would maintain it in a usable form. The applicants should also state that the primary grantee institution (and/or a partner grantee institution that is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3)) would be the copyright owner of any software developed with grant funds and of any digital files that result from grant-funded digitization.
  • A list of the names and institutional affiliations of members of the project team and a description of each member’s role(s) and capacities on the project. Include two-page CVs for principal project participants.
  • Two reference letters
  • An institutional statement from a senior official of the project leader’s home institution or the institution hosting the project (dean, provost, president, or other appropriate person). The form will ask the institutional representative to confirm that the institution's existing cyberinfrastructure complements and supports the technologies to be developed and the related program activities to be undertaken for the specified project. Though two or more institutions may serve as sites for funded grant activities, one must serve as the lead institution and administer all grant funds.


Related Links

Questions about this program may be directed to fellowships@acls.org.