The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announces the launch of the Sustaining Public Engagement Grant Program, a $3.5 million responsive funding program made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative.
As many institutions of higher education face difficult financial decisions, publicly engaged humanities programs risk being labeled as “extras” or “luxuries.” Yet connections with communities outside academia, particularly as we seek to understand the most pressing problems of our time, are crucial to the thriving of humanistic scholarship.
The ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grants will support programs based at accredited American colleges and universities devoted to the co-creation of knowledge with diverse communities outside academia that have experienced staffing reductions related to pandemic conditions, programming setbacks, and/or loss of institutional capacity for publicly engaged work.
ACLS will award up to 40 Sustaining Public Engagement Grants ranging from $50,000 to $225,000 for terms of 12 months each. Successful applicants will demonstrate how their programs provide strong public engagement around racial equity, climate change, US-global relations, public health and pandemic recovery, strengthening democracy, and/or exploring America’s diverse history.
ACLS will begin accepting Sustaining Public Engagement Grant applications starting Friday, October 8, 2021, with applications due by 9 PM EST Tuesday, December 7, 2021. Applications from programs based at minority-serving institutions, regional public colleges and universities, and community colleges are strongly encouraged.  
Learn more about the Sustaining Public Engagement Grant Program, eligibility requirements, and application process at

ACLS will host a series of informational webinars about the application process.

“ACLS is proud to be part of this NEH recovery effort, which will sustain many humanists who are committed to engaging directly with the world beyond academe or preparing students to do so,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “ACLS was founded on the core belief that knowledge is a public good: the Sustaining Public Engagement Grant Program perfectly exemplifies that principle. It will help humanistic scholars work together with members of the public to create and circulate much needed insights into America’s past and present as well as visions for a better future.”

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriated supplemental funding to the NEH to provide emergency relief to cultural organizations and educational institutions and organizations working in the humanities that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Act recognizes that the humanities sector is an essential component of economic and civic life in the United States.