Engaging Humanities Grant, 2021–22

The Engaging Humanities Grant supports UC faculty in pursuing thoughtful engagement with diverse publics beyond the academy. California’s communities represent a rich resource for UC faculty interested in pursuing collaborative, public-facing projects that will impact people beyond their campuses. Recognizing that off-campus outreach can produce transformations in knowledge, this grant encourages scholars to develop innovative projects that weave together humanities research and/or pedagogy with community engagement, strengthening ties between UC campuses and California communities through partnerships with community organizations, museums, NGOs, or other public-facing groups.

All topics relevant to the humanities are welcome, but UCHRI is particularly interested in supporting projects broadly related to Living Through Upheaval. The initiative offers grant opportunities for University of California researchers interested in proposing projects that explore and address issues of social, political, and physical upheaval. Turbulent times can yield devastating destruction, but they also create rapid change and offer opportunities to destabilize entrenched power structures. Living Through Upheaval asks you to contemplate the human contours and lived experiences of moments of profound upheaval.

Applicants are invited to request a seed grant of up to $5,000 for burgeoning projects, or a project grant of up to $20,000 for more developed projects. Applicants to all Engaging Humanities grants must have a letter of support from a community partner. Successful applicants for the $20,000 project grants must secure a match of at least 50% of UCHRI-awarded funds from other funding sources. Seed grants do not require matching funds. UCHRI is particularly interested in proposals that clearly articulate innovative modes of engagement with well-defined publics.

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.


Program Details

Engaging Humanities Grants will produce original scholarship and/or programming that is invested in, inflected by, and interesting to a specific public. Applicants should avoid proposing projects where the primary goal is to simply disseminate their research projects beyond the walls of the academy. Ideally, projects will engage a diverse group of UC humanities faculty and students with individuals or groups outside the academy in both the production and dissemination of research. Although projects might include some panel discussions or lectures, they should not be limited to these traditional academic forms of engagement. 

Seed Grants (up to $5,000)

  • Applicants will have already connected with a community organization, and have clearly-articulated plans for small-scale, innovative, experimental partnerships. 

Project Grants (up to $20,000)

  • Proposals will describe ongoing collaborations with community partners that have already produced tangible results, and are founded on symbiotic partnership with outside organizations. Applicants should clarify how this award will advance the project to a new stage, build up a new area of collaboration, or produce a unique outcome.

Application Details

Faculty organizers must be UC ladder rank faculty members and will be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the grant. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their respective campus representative on the UCHRI Advisory Committee for guidance in the application process. Prospective faculty organizers must apply online via Submittable.

Required documents include:

  • Project Title and Abstract (200 words max)
  • Project Description (2,000 words max, see details below)
  • Proposed Budget (see details below)
  • Memorandum of Agreement or Community Letter from the partner organization
  • Curriculum Vitae of the Faculty Organizer(s) (2 pages max)

Interdisciplinary and multi-campus collaborations are strongly encouraged. Though proposed initiatives may involve scholars from a single or multiple UC campuses  (depending on the needs of the project), significant preference will be given to projects that involve at least two UC campuses. Preference is also given to projects that engage with populations not traditionally well represented at the university.

It is strongly recommended that faculty organizers make requests for matching funds BEFORE submitting the application, as it may not be possible for home campuses or granting agencies to appropriate funds if the request comes after the announcement of the UCHRI award. 

The 18-month structure of this award is meant to allow applicants to incorporate research and development during the first six months of the project, if necessary, and to provide time for grantees to think creatively about how to structure collaborative research. Funded project activities should span at least 12 months in total.

All applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with UCHRI’s online journal, Foundry, and to consider submitting work pertaining to Foundry’s new open call, Living Through Upheaval. Foundry seeks academic submissions that experiment with content and form, and that push beyond the constraints of traditional academic publishing.

Project Description

The project description should be a maximum of 2,000 words and include the following elements:

  • Intellectual Agenda, including the relevance and importance of the project for the campus(es), the partner organization, and broader publics. Explain how your project speaks to the Living Through Upheaval theme, or addresses issues of urgent contemporary concern. 
  • Research Plan, including proposed development timeline, and any relevant milestones. The grant activities must take place between July 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022.
  • List of Participants, including each participant’s name, brief biography, and relevance/contribution to the collaborative project and its stated objectives. Commitments from non-UC participants should be evident.
  • Proposed Objectives, including goals and expected outcomes, how the project will potentially impact various communities, and how this impact might be evaluated or measured. 
  • Partnership Statement, describing the key features of your intended collaboration with partner organizations and participants, and a description of the target audiences. What are the stakes for the partner organization and their constituencies who might participate in the project? 
  • Outreach Strategies for involving broader communities, including an explanation of why the chosen strategy is particularly suited for the target audience.

 Proposed Budget

The proposed budget is made up of two elements:

  • The Applicant PROPOSED Budget Template
  • A Budget Narrative (500 words max) that describes how estimates were determined and lists secured, or potential sources for matching funds.

*The use of MRPI funds (including these grant funds) for travel is prohibited through the end of the 2021 calendar year. If your project plans include travel for events anytime before January 1, 2022, please note that it will not be covered by the grant. If you are planning research travel or plan to attend in-person meetings from January 2022 onward, you may submit a budget that reflects this.

Proposed budgets may cover travel and lodging expenses (in 2022 ONLY) for workshop meetings of working group members as well as necessary group and project-related research expenses, including programming and web support. Catered and group meals may not exceed 15% of the total budget. Grant funds do not cover alcoholic beverages. Please note that the majority of the budget should support research and engagement.

UCHRI may also consider administrative costs (up to 15% of the total requested amount), provided justification is detailed in both the budget template and the budget narrative. Amounts should be determined in advance and in writing with the administrative unit (e.g., the faculty organizer’s department or campus humanities center). Campuses are prohibited from charging indirect costs on funding from the Office of the President.

Please note that restrictions on UCHRI funding do not allow honoraria to be paid to UC faculty. Compensation should be in the form of a direct contribution to the faculty member’s research fund, and is limited to a maximum of $300 for UC-faculty presenters/panelists. Honoraria may be paid to non-UC presenters/panelists, and should also be capped at $300.


For program related questions, please contact Shana Melnysyn, research grants manager, at smelnysyn@hri.uci.edu. Please include the name of the grant for which you need assistance.

For technical assistance, contact Submittable at support@submittable.com.