Take Back Our Neighborhoods Milwaukee 2018

A group of community members led public talks and walks in Milwaukee’s Northside neighborhoods in order to collect and share local stories of caring and stewardship. The vision is to “take back” homes, streets and gardens for neighbors. This project fit our call for proposals for programs with a focus on race and ethnicity. Photo by Meg Turville-Heitz.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council administers the only grant program in the state devoted to the public humanities.

Throughout the state, we help bring communities together by supporting projects in schools, libraries, museums, churches, historical societies, colleges and civic groups.


We award Mini Grants of up to $2,000 and Major Grants of up to $10,000.
  • There are four Mini Grant rounds. Applications must be received by: February 1, May 1, August 1 or November 1. Decisions are made by a WHC board subcommittee within one month of the deadline.
  • There are three Major Grant rounds. Applications must be received by: April 15, August 15, or December 15. Decisions are made by the WHC board in the following June, October, and February, respectively.

How competitive are our grants?

How competitive are these grants?

Between 2000 to 2012, the WHC received an average of 58 applications for Mini Grants in the four rounds combined. We funded 59% of those applications. The average award was $1,632. In the same time period, the WHC received an average of 37 applications for Major Grants in the three rounds combined. We funded 51% of those applications. The average award was $7,657.

The dedication of a mural in Fort Atkinson honoring the late local poet Lorine Niedecker brought the community together for events and conversations as part of the 2018 Wisconsin Poetry Festival.

Six secrets to successful WHC grant applications:

  • Our grants require a 50% match. In-kind match and cash both count!
  • We can’t fund capital expenditures or stand-alone archival projects.
  • Applicants must be affiliated with a not-for-profit, Wisconsin-based sponsor and include a humanities expert as part of the planned program.
  • We can’t fund projects whose purpose is advocacy.
  • The project must engage the public in the humanities. We look for opportunities to make history, culture and conversation happen.
  • We can offer guidelines, draft proposal review, intensive brainstorms and a lot of conversation about what will help make your project come to life.
What does a successful grant proposal look like?
  • It reflects the interests or needs of the community …
  • It builds or strengthens connections between communities and their organizations …
  • It brings people together to explore and share ideas and to reflect on what we hold in common, and where we differ …
  • It fosters observation, inquiry, analysis, reflection …
  • It has its feet firmly planted in the humanities and engages the skills of experts and community members in ways that promote insight and meaning, and it respects local knowledge and ways of knowing. …
  • It promotes Wisconsinites’ understanding of the character and conditions – past, present and future – of our lifestyles and homescapes…
  • It helps institutions do what they do better.
WHC grants have:
  • Helped survivors of human trafficking give public voice to their experience, thanks to a workshop at a women’s college.
  • Fostered dialog at a city library to heal race relations by exploring the realities of subtle racial undertones all around us.
  • Helped a library build civic pride in its community’s history of building U.S. warships.
  • Given voice to Viet Nam veterans’ personal memories through a traveling collection of snapshots.
  • Told overlooked stories of street-level history through a documentary project accessible by mobile phone.

Request for Proposals/Special Funding Initiatives

Does your project explore the legacy of race and ethnicity in Wisconsin?

The Wisconsin Humanities Council has a special interest in funding projects that engage in, or foster, meaningful community conversations about issues of race and ethnicity. Projects should use humanities expertise to support community dialogue, which may not advocate for particular political positions, but may speak directly to current concerns, such as police-community relations.  Thanks to a generous donation, we have additional special funds available to be spent in northern Wisconsin.  Click here for more information.


Instructions and Application

Our Grant Guidelines are a first stop for more information and the Grant Application Instructions will lead you step-by-step through preparing a proposal.

Please note: As of July 1, 2019 our application forms have changed. Please download our most recent form below.

If you have any questions or if your plans include producing a video, audio or digital humanities product, please call us at (608) 265-5595 or email Meg Turville-Heitz for additional information and the special application form for digital projects.

Shakespeare in the Park 2017

In the summer of 2017, visitors to state parks all over Wisconsin were treated to free performances of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors.’ The seven-member cast from Summit Player’s Theatre held a fun and entertaining workshop for all ages about Shakespearean history, language and characters before each show. Photo by Meg Turville-Heitz.

Need help?

If you or your organization have never applied for a grant, or you just want some feedback on an idea you aren’t sure about, please contact us to discuss your idea. We may be able to help!  It might be anything from helping to brainstorm an idea or connecting with a humanities expert. We are happy to read drafts, but please allow three weeks to a month before the application deadline for review.

Resources for Applicants

We understand, writing a competitive grant proposal can be challenging. To help you in the process, we publish a regular series of tips, called Grants 101, on our Humanities Booyah online magazine.

Meg Turville-HeitzIf you have any questions or if your plans include producing a video, audio or digital humanities product, please call us at (608) 265-5595 or email Meg Turville-Heitz for additional information.