ACLS Digital Justice Seed and Development Grants are designed to promote and provide resources for projects that diversify the digital domain, advance justice and equity in digital scholarly practice, and/or contribute to public understanding of racial and social justice issues. This program especially supports projects that engage with the interests and histories of people of color and other historically marginalized communities, including (but not limited to) Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities; people with disabilities; and queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people. In this way, the Digital Justice Seed and Development Grants seek to address the inequities in the distribution of access to tools and support for digital work among scholars across various fields, those working with under-utilized or understudied source materials, and those in institutions with less support for digital projects.
Please note that ACLS grants may not support projects whose focus is the production of creative works (e.g., novels or films), textbooks, straightforward translations, or purely pedagogical projects. Institutional indirect costs will not be covered.
The Digital Justice Seed Grants and Digital Justice Development Grants each fund projects at different stages of development.
Digital Justice Seed Grants support projects at the earliest stage of development, those that explore or experiment with new materials, methodologies, and research agendas by way of planning workshops, prototyping, and/or testing products. The Digital Justice Seed Grants promote inclusion and sustainability by extending the opportunity to participate in the digital transformation of humanistic inquiry to a greater number of humanities scholars and projects at the beginning stages of development, and especially those based at institutions that do not regularly provide funds or staff support for digital work. These grants range in amount from $10,000 to $25,000 with a 12-18 month tenure.
By contrast, the Digital Justice Development Grants support projects that have advanced beyond the prototyping or proof-of-concept phase. The proposals for such projects should be able to provide evidence of significant preliminary work already completed, as well as articulate the next financial, technological, and intellectual phases of project development. These grants range in amount from $50,000 to $100,000 with a 12-18 month tenure.
Yes, PIs without doctorates or faculty positions are eligible to apply for a Digital Justice Grant. The only requirement for eligible PIs is that they can demonstrate that they are scholars in the humanities and/or interpretive social sciences. ACLS does not limit its definition of scholar to those with faculty positions or with doctorates. We define scholar as one with a demonstrated track record of engagement in scholarly debates and communities, whether by publications, conference presentations, or collaborations with other scholars both in and outside their fields.
For those situated more firmly in the social sciences and/or engage interdisciplinarily from STEM fields, we rely on those applicants to demonstrate in their materials that humanistic and qualitative interpretative methods are central to their scholarship. Those methods may also be how their scholarship grounds itself within the variety of other relevant humanities fields (e.g. Black studies, queer studies, urban studies, etc.) for this program.
No. Given that the Digital Justice Seed and Digital Development Grants support projects at different stages of growth, a project suited for the former would not be suited for the latter, and vice versus. For that reason, ACLS encourages prospective applicants to review the differences between each application to determine which grant is the best fit for the proposed project. Applicants should also consider issues like project history, prior funding, and new or established technological infrastructure when determining if seed grants or development grants are appropriate.
Yes, both Development and Seed grants can be used to purchase equipment and software. Our sample budgets of both the seed and development grants (which can be found at the bottom of each competition page under the “Application Resources” heading) provide an example of the kinds of expenses covered by each grant.
Yes, a portion of the funds can be used to pay for the digitization or cataloguing of analogue materials. However, the strongest applications will clearly articulate how their project brings the digital to bear on subjects that have been historically underrepresented or understudied in academe, as well as the project’s intended audiences and its plans for how the project team will engage those constituencies.
Yes. Given the robust intersection of digital and public humanities, ACLS welcomes digital projects that feature community partners as key interlocutors and/or co-creators for the development of the proposed project. If applicable, such partners should appear throughout a project team’s application materials, including the proposal narrative, budget and budget narrative, as well as the list and description of project team members.
Depending on the nature of the project, grant awardees can allocate a portion of their budget to contracting freelancers, consultants, or other partners outside of the university who provide technical expertise in service of forwarding the project’s goals. However, we encourage applicants to consider what, if any, technological resources are available to them at their home institutions and to supplement grant funds with those resources when possible.
Yes, collaborators and partners outside of the United States can receive support through the Digital Justice Grant program. However, please note that all projects must be verified by a senior administrator at an institution of higher education in the United States. Such verification occurs through submission of the institutional verification form.
Once ACLS forwards grant funds to an awardee’s noted institution, the PI of that project team should collaborate with the relevant institutional personnel to direct funds to their non-university partners.
If an applicant (defined either as a Primary Investigator or a broader team or unit) has two distinct projects that each meet the respective eligibility requirements for the Seed and Development grants, that applicant can submit two separate applications for each project. However, in the spirit of distributing these funds as widely as possible, please note that applicants cannot be awarded both grants. In the rare circumstance that our peer review panel awards two projects from the same applicant, that applicant will be required to select which grant they would like to receive.
No, applicants are not required to host their projects on their institution’s servers. However, please note that in order to complete the application, applicants must submit an intellectual property statement and commit 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) no infringement of third-party rights with respect to the development, dissemination, and use of the software and/or digital content. The creators of the software, digital products, and content created with support of ACLS grant funds will retain intellectual property ownership rights of those materials. Digital content should be made as widely available as intellectual property constraints allow, ideally with the most liberal Creative Commons license that is appropriate to the underlying content.
Yes, both Digital Justice Seed and Development grant funds may be used for tuition reimbursement, salaries, and course releases in order to support the members of your project team as they carry out grant-funded activities. In some cases, you may also use grant funds to create post-doctoral positions for the project. Our sample budgets, from previously funded Digital Justice applications, provide examples of the kinds of expenses that are covered by each grant.
Online Grant Application Process
No, you may work on it in multiple sessions, though you will need to save your work after you finish each section of the application. Once you have submitted the application, you cannot work on it again.
ACLS does not require reference letters for its Digital Justice Grant program. Given that one of the ongoing challenges of legitimizing digital scholarship within academic institutions is the inability of most traditional disciplines and departments to truly “get” digital work, the exclusion of reference letters is a response to the incredibly small pool of potential scholars who could write them; the same pool of scholars who, by and large, apply to the program and/or serve as reviewers.
The elimination of letters of recommendation also brings the Digital Justice program into greater alignment with the standard of other ACLS programs, including our Central Fellowship, which no longer require letters of recommendation as an exercise in making the application process more equitable for contingent faculty.
The application does require a statement of institutional verification, to be submitted by a senior administrator (e.g. a Dean, Provost, or VP of Research) at the Primary Investigator’s home institution. The institutional verification is not a formal letter of recommendation, but rather a form with a series of check boxes as well as a fill-in field for brief comments on the available technological resources at the institution. Administrators are invited to complete this form via ACLS’s OFA system once the PI submits the administrator’s email within the application.
The applications for both the Digital Justice Seed Grants and Digital Justice Development Grants can be accessed via ACLS’ OFA portal. Once applicants register for the current competition year in OFA, they will be directed to a menu featuring open ACLS competitions. They can begin and later submit their Digital Justice applications through this portal.
Applications for ACLS Digital Justice Seed and Development Grants are read by a panel of scholars from diverse fields in the humanities and related social sciences who have extensive expertise in digital research development and project management in a range of higher education institutions. They are scholars entrenched in the digital humanities and publicly engaged scholarship, who have successfully used digital methods to produce innovative scholarship.
After the Digital Justice selection committees meet and finalize their decisions in early Spring 2024, ACLS will notify all applicants in mid-to-late Spring 2024.
A: Yes, you may request feedback generated through ACLS’s peer review process by writing to [email protected] with the subject line “Request for feedback –” followed by your full name, e.g. “Request for feedback – Jane Q. Applicant.” Requests for comments from the 2023-2024 competition must be received by June 15, 2024.
Due to the number of requests ACLS receives each year, and the work of administering new fellowships each spring, we do not begin processing feedback until the summer, after the competition year is complete. Thank you for your patience.
Please also note that feedback is made available at the discretion of each reviewer. Comments may not be available from every reviewer who assessed your application. We encourage peer reviewers to provide constructive feedback to applicants looking to improve on their ideas or how they express those ideas; comments are not an explanation or rationale for why an application was not selected for an award. Such feedback also is not intended to be directions that, if followed, would lead necessarily to greater success in future competitions. After all, the pool of reviewers changes every year, as does the pool of applications.