Save Humanities Councils Funding: Support America’s Cultural and Competitive Future

Target: Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, Senate Committee on Appropriations Vice Chair Thad Cochran, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Reed, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Michael Simpson, House Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Moran, and U.S. Congress Members

Goal: Protect funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and Federation of State Humanities Councils

For nearly 40 years, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has served millions of American families, educational communities, health care professionals, veterans, and citizens in every congressional district across the country. Humanities council programs make education an accessible community experience at little or no cost, strengthening local institutions and building community identity. Congressional Humanities Caucus Co-Chair David Price calls NEH “the single most important source of federal funding for research and scholarship in history, literature, foreign languages, and other fields that provide individuals with critical ethical, cultural, and historical perspective.” These councils support grassroots humanities programs and public community-based activities to produce local events exploring aspects of American and world culture. Participants in rural, urban, and suburban communities benefit from the K-12 educational resources for students and teachers, strengthen parents’ vocational skills and family bonds, and bolster cultural capacity building.

Last year’s NEH and state humanities councils funding already endured budget cuts well below targeted 2008 levels. Despite these dire constraints, humanities councils were able to leverage $5.15 for every federal dollar awarded in 2010 grants. The NEH awarded $142.7 million through 1,200 awards spanning every state and territory during Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10). Even on a barebones budget, portions of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ budget were allocated for the Federation of State Humanities Councils, which conduct programs such as Humanities on the Hill, National Humanities Conferences, Museum on Main Street, and state humanities councils. These 56 state councils worked with 9,600 organizations in 5.700 U.S. communities to reach millions of Americans through teacher institutes, family literacy programs, and thousands of innovative programs. Through responsible stewardship of our nation’s limited financial resources, the NEH works with local humanities councils to bolster economies and enrich lives. It is imperative that we preserve current funding levels.

We urge you to support FY10 level funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2012 Fiscal Year. U.S. Senator Tom Udall advocated for federal support of the arts and humanities as “an important tool for expanding cultural, educational, and economic opportunities in communities across the United States.” Investing relatively small amounts of federal support into humanities pays out significant dividends in national education and the cultural infrastructure of local communities. It also advances critical U.S. interests by nurturing a globally competitive workforce, illuminating our cultural heritage, strengthening civic engagement, and protecting our national security.


Dear Honorable Congress Members Inouye, Cochran, Reed, Simpson, Murkowski, Moran, and U.S. Congress Members:

An investment in the National Endowment for the Humanities and state humanities councils amounts to an investment in America’s cultural, economic, community, and educational vitality. In the complex environment of globalization, we face a pressing need for humanities programs which impart cultural knowledge, cultivate critical reasoning and creativity, and encourage ethical awareness. Diligent fiscal management of humanities council resources provides crucial support for small community organizations and institutions which have already suffered severe public and private funding cuts, such as local libraries, museums, and historical societies. They are the lifeblood of small-town America and the catalyst for creative problem solving. In many communities, humanities council programs are the only available, affordable, or free opportunities for the public to engage in civic learning and lateral thinking.

I urge Congress to provide flat funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities at the FY10 enacted level of $167.5 million in FY 2012. The humanities councils understand and respond to the specific needs of their states, involving local citizens in developing shared learning experiences for their own communities. Many of these programs would vanish without humanities council support, or survive with limited functionality. I respectfully request your consideration for America’s educational, economic, and civic futures – protect NEH funding.


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