FAQ about the NEH Challenge Grant

What is the NEH, anyway?

The National Endowment for the Humanities was established by Congress in 1965 to support research and public programs in the humanities.

What are the humanities?

For the purposes of NEH grants, the humanities include subjects like history, literature, religion, foreign languages, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, art history and criticism, dance history and criticism, film history and criticism, music history and criticism, ethnic studies, folklore, women’s studies, law, linguistics, and more.

Why does the NEH give challenge grants?

The purpose of challenge grants is to help institutions and organizations secure long-term support for and improvements in their humanities programs and resources. Awards are made to museums, public libraries, colleges, historical societies, public television and radio stations, and other non-profit entities to improve their financial stability and the quality of their humanities activities.

How did Legacy get its challenge grant?

Legacy applied under a Special Initiative for Local History, designed to help small institutions improve their humanities resources in local history. Out of 93 applicants in national competition, the Legacy Museum was one of only seven to receive grants.

What will the NEH grant fund?

Rather than being a direct gift of funds, the grant matches, dollar for dollar, funds raised for the endowment over three years, up to a total of $100,000. This is a deliberate strategy to equip the museum to be effective and self-sufficient in the future.

What is endowment?

Endowment is money that is permanently invested. Only the incomeearned by the invested money may be spent. Legacy’s endowment fund, established in 1998, is administered by the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust.

What will the income from Legacy’s endowment fund be used for?

Income from the $200,000 endowment, estimated at about $10,000 annually, will be used to pay a curator for each of the Museum’s exhibits.

What does a curator do?

A curator has intellectual control of a museum’s collections and does the research and writing that support an exhibit, as well as much of the planning for exhibits. She or he has a strong academic background in the subject represented by the museum. In Legacy’s case, a curator would be a museum professional with an advanced degree in African American history.

Why does Legacy need a curator?

Legacy needs a curator for every exhibit to put the history of Central Virginia’s African Americans into its broader context and to strengthen the Museum as an educational institution. A curator legitimates the work of the Museum and gives it credibility.

How much time does Legacy have to meet the NEH challenge?

The first $33,000 of Legacy’s share must be raised by July 31, 2003. The second $33,000 must be raised by July 31, 2004, and the last $34,000 by July 31, 2005.

How is the fund-raising going?

It is going very well. Advisory committee member Jean Smith-Turner and Legacy treasurer Patricia Gentry are chairing the fund-raising committee, with Ron Dolan and Rev. Haywood Robinson, Jr., as honorary chairs. Legacy’s advisory committee is providing assistance. Barbara Bennett sits on the fund-raising committee and serves as liaison among that committee, the advisory committee, and the board of directors.

A letter campaign was launched in March 2003 to communicate with those who have visited and supported the museum over its first years. Personal visits to corporate sponsors will be made in June and July. This year’s work will pave the way for pledges and on-going contributions through 2004 and 2005. Generous contributions from members of the Central Virginia community and friends of the Museum, along with handsome grants from the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust and the R. R. Donnelly Foundation have enabled us to raise the first $33,000 ahead of the July deadline.

How can I help?

Write a check to the Legacy Museum, with NEH in the memo line. Make a memorial gift or a gift to honor someone special. Get a church group or organization you belong to, or a business you are part of, to donate as a group. Send your check to the Legacy Museum, P.O. Box 308, Lynchburg, VA, 24505. Be sure to write NEH in the memo line. All contributions are tax-deductible.

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