Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants

Funding Agency:
National Endowment for the Humanities

The purpose of the Challenge Grants program is to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by enabling infrastructure development and capacity building. Awards aim to help institutions secure long-term support for their core activities and expand efforts to preserve and create access to outstanding humanities materials. The program funds two distinct types of projects, each with its own notice of funding opportunity:

  • Capital Projects supports the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities for humanities activities.  This includes the purchase and installation of related moveable and permanently affixed equipment for exhibiting, maintaining, monitoring, and protecting collections (whether on exhibit or in storage), and for critical building systems, such as electrical, heating ventilation and air conditioning, security, life safety, lighting, utilities, telecommunications, and energy management.  
  • Digital Infrastructure supports the maintenance, modernization, and sustainability of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms.

Fundraising is a critical part of NEH Challenge grant awards: up to 10 percent of total funds (Challenge matching funds plus certified gifts) may be used for fundraising costs during the period of performance. 


  • Duke Internal Deadline: Interested applicants should contact Paul Noe ( as early as possible.
  • Optional Draft due: April 3, 2020

  • Application due: May 15, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants include U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, accredited public and 501(c)(3) institutions of higher education, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments. Applicants must work wholly or in part in the humanities: they must support research, education, preservation, or public programming in the humanities.

Applicants may apply for only one NEH Challenge Grant per calendar year (either Capital Projects or Digital Infrastructure). Previous recipients of Challenge Grants (including Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants (CHA), Challenge Grants (CH), Cooperative Agreements and Special Projects (ZZ), and Special Initiatives (CZ)) are eligible to apply for a subsequent Challenge Grant beginning in the third year after the submission of the final financial report for its most recent NEH Challenge Grant. For example, if a prior Challenge Grant recipient submitted their final financial report in 2017, they would not be eligible to apply for a subsequent Challenge Grant until 2020. Recipients of Next Generation Challenge Grants (ZB and ZA), Humanities Access Grants (ZH), and Creating Humanities Communities grants (ZR) are exempt from this requirement.

Amount Description

Approximately $12,500,000 is expected to be available to fund up to 30 recipients (Capital Projects and Digital Infrastructure combined). You may apply for a ceiling amount of up to $750,000. The requested grant amount should be appropriate to the humanities needs and the fundraising capacity of the institution.

Funding Type





Arts & Humanities

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

* A letter of support endorsed by the chair/director and the appropriate dean - 1 to 1.5 pages -  In this letter, please describe how the matching funds will be solicited. Do you already have donors lined up to contribute? If not, what strategy will you use raise the matching funds? Have you already begun working on it? Please elaborate.
* Project summary - 2 to 4 pages
* CV or Biosketch of project leader

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials:


External Deadline

May 15, 2020