About Humanities Iowa

What We Do

Humanities Iowa (HI) is committed to bringing the humanities to the public through grant making, publications, and through interactive programming and events. Founded in 1971, HI is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities or NEH in Washington D.C.

We provide grants to other non-profit organizations that further the humanities in the state, and we conduct our own programs that support the humanities across Iowa. Each year we serve over 250,000 Iowans with programming and projects, such as our Speakers Bureau and Library Reading and Discussion Series. We have a strong commitment to sharing and supporting the humanities with all Iowans, and to bringing the humanities to life.

How We Do What We Do


HI grants support humanities programs for the out-of-school adult public. Grants are awarded to not-for-profit organizations that serve the Iowan public. See our Grant Guidelines for full details.

There are two types of grants:

  1. Major Grants are awarded twice annually, and range from $3,001 to $10,000.
  2. Mini Grants are awarded throughout the year for amounts up to $3,000.

Council Conducted Programs

Council conducted programs are separate from grant making and include programs that originate from HI and are managed by its staff or agents. These include:


The mission of Humanities Iowa is to promote understanding and appreciation of the people, communities, cultures, and stories of importance to Iowa and the nation.

What are the Humanities

The humanities are our cultural and intellectual heritage--the sum of human experience, thought and expression. They give us knowledge of the past, insight about the present and wisdom for the future. They teach us about others and help us to know ourselves.

The humanities are also a group of disciplines that both mirror and interpret what human beings have believed, experienced, and celebrated in our time and throughout the centuries. As branches of learning, the humanities include history, literature, languages, philosophy, ethics, law and comparative religion.

The history, theory and criticism of the arts are also considered humanities topics. Social sciences that employ qualitative approaches, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, political science, international relations, and interdisciplinary areas such as folklore, women's studies and American studies, are also fields in the humanities.

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National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities or NEH in Washington, D.C. is a federal agency that supports all areas of the humanities. Funding research, education, museum exhibitions and other programs and activities throughout the country, the NEH supports humanities organizations like HI, linking them with Humanities Councils in the 50 states and six territories. For more information, check out NEH's web site at www.neh.gov

Some of what HI offers...

Speakers Bureau

Image of OJ Fargo, a member of Speakers Bureau

HI Speakers Bureau brings insightful lectures and programs in the humanities to senior centers, museums, libraries, businesses, and other organizations throughout Iowa.

Traveling Exhibits

image of barn from Iowa titled barn goddess

Our exhibits present humanities issues in a visual format by lending portable exhibits to schools, libraries, banks, museums, businesses and city governments for public display. If you are interested in one of the following exhibits please contact our office for more details info(at)humanitiesiowa(dot)org

Current Exhibits:
 A Sense of Place
 Barns of Iowa


International Writing Program

Image of Paul Engle

HI is helping to fund a one-man play by the International Writing Program (IWP) based on the life of native Iowan Paul Engle, cofounder of the IWP. In 2007 the IWP celebrated 40 years of bringing writers from around the world to Iowa. HI was able to talk with IWP director, Christopher Merrill about Paul Engle, the IWP and what both have meant to Iowa.