Mass Humanities Announces 2023 Funding Opportunities Through Grants

Special to the Patriot-Bridge

Mass Humanities, the Commonwealth’s leading funder of humanities programs, announced upcoming opportunities for its 2023 grant season.

In 2022, the Northampton-based foundation awarded more than $1 million in grants to non-profits, supporting free public events, oral history projects, and community conversations and media partnerships. This year, Mass Humanities seeks to increase its impact through the Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative, and its long-running Reading Frederick Douglass Together program.

Applications and guidelines are available at

“We believe the work of Massachusetts residents to reimagine our stories provides a pathway to reinvigorating our democracy at the local, state, and national level,” said Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. “These vital programs amplify the diverse ideas, stories and conversations that continue to make the Commonwealth a global leader in ideas and the fight for equality.”

Mass Humanities grants opportunities for the 2023 season include:

• Expand Massachusetts Stories (Up to $20,000)—At this pivotal time, Massachusetts needs new voices and fresh narratives to meet our challenges. We support organizations that embrace this historical moment as an opportunity to bring communities together to reimagine stories, revitalize traditions, and ignite new ideas for the future. Expand Massachusetts Stories (EMS) grants support projects that collect, interpret, and share narratives about the commonwealth, emphasizing the voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized or have been excluded from public conversation. As part of the EMS grant program, Mass Humanities will also offer Advancing Equity Track grants to 15 applicants whose projects are led by people from historically excluded communities, and whose organizations meet additional criteria. The Advancing Equity Track applications open on Monday, Feb. 6, with Letter of Inquiries due on Monday, March 20. Applications for the EMS Open Track opens Monday, March 20, with applications due on Monday, May 22.

• Read Frederick Douglass Together Grants (Up to $2,000)–Each year, Mass Humanities organizes and funds free events where communities gather to read and talk about Frederick Douglass’ influential address, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” The most celebrated orator of his day, Douglass’ denunciations of slavery and forceful examination of the Constitution challenge us to think about the stories we tell and do not tell, the ideas that they teach or do not teach, and the gaps between our actions and aspirations. To quote Douglass: “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the future.” Applications are open now and grants are made on a rolling basis each month.

An online webinar for anyone interested in applying takes place on Feb. 16 at 1pm. A video of the webinar will be shared on

Last year Mass Humanities awarded more than $713,000 in grants to 42 organizations across the Commonwealth through the Expand Massachusetts Stories grant program with support from the Barr Foundation.  Of the 42 grantees, 62% had people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) among their project leadership; 60% of the organizations funded had operating budgets under $500,000; and 48% had operating budgets under $350,000.

More than 25 organizations hosted Reading Frederick Douglass Together events across the state.  Each event features a group of diverse people gathering to read portions of the Douglass’ Fourth of July speech. The readings provide the opportunity for communities to discuss race, democracy, and our responsibilities to the past and how we might find ways to strengthen our future together.

Mass Humanities grants are made possible in part by a partnership with Mass Cultural Council, the state arts agency, and by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To learn more about Mass Humanities grant opportunities contact Katherine Stevens, Director of Grants and Programs, at [email protected].

Mass Humanities, a non-profit foundation based in Northampton, creates opportunities for the people of Massachusetts to transform their lives and build a more equitable commonwealth through the humanities. Since its founding in 1974, the organization has provided millions of dollars to support thousands of humanities projects across the Commonwealth. Established as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Mass Humanities is an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council and private sources. For more information, visit or connect on social media at:

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