The Mission of Humanities Iowa

To promote understanding and appreciation of the people, communities, culture, and stories of importance to Iowa and the nation.


The Future of Humanities Iowa

Since 1971, Humanities Iowa (HI) has been the premier independent nonprofit organization in the state of Iowa focusing on the public humanities. Our original mandate allowed us to redistribute federal funds among the state’s nonprofits, but we have evolved far beyond this mandate over the decades. We now award grants not only to Iowa nonprofits but also to community partners throughout the state who produce probing, locally relevant programming. We also produce our own programs, including the Iowa Poet Laureate, with the support of nationwide organizations such as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We are involved in exciting projects that include community roundtables, lectures and living history performances, barn restorations,  poetry and papermaking projects with military veterans, Afrofuturist Studies events, art books, inter-generational storytelling projects, magazines, and countless radio, television, and internet streaming programs.

It is in this spirit of innovation and exploration that we started this experiment of Humanities Iowa fifty years ago, and we are working everyday to ensure your Humanities Iowa will be around for the next fifty years, as we live and learn together as Iowans. As we look forward to the next fifty years, our work continues to evolve as we acknowledge and respond to the pandemic, the ongoing fight for racial equity and social justice, and the dynamism of our rural communities so iconic and important to our state. What does our evolving work  look like? Here are just a few examples:  

We are streamlining our grants application processes so that no individual or organization will feel dissuaded by what can sometimes feel like an overly complicated process of applying for grant money

We are constructing additional grants resources for fledgling nonprofits, including web tutorials and webinars.

We are increasing the number of Major Grants ($3,001 - $10,000, each) we award each year to attract smaller nonprofits who need help getting their programs up and running.

We are actively expanding both our Board of Directors and Speakers Bureau in order to achieve full complement of diverse leadership voicesWe are establishing new partnerships to develop deeper contributions to the digital humanities, while actively cultivating relationships in Iowa’s minority and rural communities

We hope you will join us in building a better Humanities Iowa for you and the future of Iowa. If you would like to get involved, we would love to have you join us—by attending our events with your family and friends, nominating individuals to the BOD and Speakers Bureau, and simply help spreading the word: Humanities Iowa is here for Iowa. And as always, you can contact us anytime at with your suggestions.


What We Do

Humanities Iowa (HI) is committed to bringing the humanities to the public through grant making, publications, interactive programming and events. 

We provide grants and partnerships 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 like our Speakers Bureau. 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 Iowa public.

There are two types of grants:

  • Major Grants are awarded twice annually, and range from $3,001 to $20,000.
  • Mini Grants are awarded throughout the year for amounts up to $3,000.

See our Grant Guidelines for full details.

Council Conducted Partnerships (CCP)

Council Conducted Partnerships are funding partnerships between Humanities Iowa and eligible non-profit organizations. A 1:1 cash match is required. Interested organizations may apply for varied amounts based on project scope and available 1:1 cash match. 

Public Programs

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

The Iowa Poet Laureate
Speakers Bureau
Traveling Exhibits
Voices from the Prairie

For more information, visit our Partnerships and Public Programs page.

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.


To learn more about what we do, check out this short video: