Grant Details

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    C - Funds little to no technology


    National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)


    The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) program helps cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures that mitigate deterioration, prolong the useful life of collections, and support institutional resilience: the ability to anticipate and respond to disasters resulting from natural or human activity.

    Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections offers two kinds of awards: 

    • Planning Grants - to help an institution develop and assess sustainable preventive conservation strategies. Planning projects may encompass such activities as: site visits, risk assessments, planning sessions, monitoring, testing, modeling, project-specific research, and preliminary designs for implementation projects. Planning grants must focus on exploring sustainable preventive conservation strategies. They also must involve an interdisciplinary team appropriate to the goals of the project. The team may consist of consultants and members of the institutions staff and might include architects, building engineers, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, and facilities managers, among others. A preservation/conservation professional who works with collections must be included on the planning team. All members of the team must be identified in the application, and they should all work collaboratively throughout the planning process; and
    • Implementation Grants - to help an institution implement a preventive conservation project. Implementation projects must focus on sustainable preservation strategies. Projects should be based on planning that has been specific to the needs of the institution and its collections within the context of its local environment. It is not necessary to receive an NEH planning grant to be eligible for an implementation grant. Planning for sustainable preservation strategies could be supported by NEH, other federal agencies, private foundations, or an institutions internal funds.

    All applicants, whether applying for planning or implementation projects, must clearly address sustainable preventive conservation strategies in their application narratives. Sustainable preservation strategies can take many forms, depending on the nature of an institution and its collections, its building, and the local climate. However, interdisciplinary collaboration during planning and implementation of these strategies is essential. In SCHC projects, such teams typically consist of consultants and members of the institutions staff and can include architects, building engineers, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, archivists, and facilities managers, among others.


    History of Funding

    None is available.

    Additional Information

    Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grants may not be used for:

    • general conservation/ preservation assessments, establishing initial environmental monitoring programs, and other basic preservation projects that could be supported through Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions;
    • the preservation of materials that are the responsibility of an agency of the federal government, are privately held, or are not generally accessible for research;
    • the installation of climate control, security, lighting, storage equipment, and fire protection systems as a component of a project to construct a new building;
    • the preservation of the built or natural environment; 
    • the renovation or restoration of historic structures, except insofar as that activity is needed to preserve humanities collections that such structures house;
    • the stabilization of archaeological sites;
    • asbestos abatement;
    • new construction and major renovation resulting in an expanded building footprint or addition of floors/stories;
    • alterations and repairs that are considered routine operations and maintenance expenses;
    • the purchase of buildings or land;
    • promotion of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view;
    • advocacy for a particular program of social or political action;
    • support of specific public policies or legislation;
    • lobbying; or
    • projects that fall outside of the humanities; the creation or performance of art; creative writing, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and empirically based social science research or policy studies.


    Division of Preservation and Access Staff

    Division of Preservation and Access Staff
    Division of Preservation and Access
    400 7th Street SW
    Washington, DC 20506
    (202) 606-8570

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants are U.S. nonprofit organizations, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.

    Deadline Details

    Proposals must be submitted by January 15, 2020. A similar deadline is anticipated annually.

    Award Details

    The maximum award for planning grants is $50,000, for a period of performance of up to two years. Applicants may request a period of performance of up to five years for implementation projects, with a maximum award of $350,000. SCHC grants generally cover no more than 80 percent of total project costs (direct and indirect) for planning projects and 50 percent of total project costs (direct and indirect) for implementation projects.

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