NEH challenge grants are capacity-building grants, intended to help institutions and organizations secure long-term support for their humanities programs and resources.
Through these awards, many organizations and institutions have been able to increase their humanities capacity and secure the
permanent support of an endowment.
Grants may be used to establish or enhance endowments or spend-down funds that generate expendable earnings to support and enhance ongoing program activities.
Challenge grants may also provide capital directly supporting the procurement of long-lasting objects, such as acquisitions for archives and collections, the purchase of equipment, and the construction or renovation of facilities needed for humanities activities.
Funds spent directly must be shown to bring long-term benefits to the institution and to the humanities more broadly.
Grantee institutions may also expend up to 10 percent of total grant funds (federal funds plus matching funds) to defray costs of fundraising to meet the NEH challenge.
Because of the matching requirement, these NEH grants also strengthen the humanities by encouraging nonfederal sources of support.