National Historical Publications & Records Commission

NHPRC-Mellon Start-Up Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History

FY 2022 Grant Announcement (Initial)

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives supports projects that promote access to America's historical records to encourage understanding of our democracy, history, and culture.

The following grant application information is for NHPRC-Mellon Start-Up Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

Funding Opportunity Number:   DIGITALEDITIONS-202106


  • Draft (optional):   April 1, 2021
  • Final Deadline:   June 9, 2021

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2022.

The deadline for this opportunity has passed. These guidelines may be used for reference, but should NOT be used to prepare an application.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), with funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks proposals for its new program for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History.  With an overarching goal to broaden participation in the production and publication of historical and scholarly digital editions, the Start-Up grants program is designed to:

  • Provide opportunities that augment the preparation and training of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) new to the work of historical documentary editing, especially those currently working in history or related area and ethnic studies departments.
  • Encourage and support the innovative and collaborative re-thinking of the historical and scholarly digital edition itself—how it is conceived, whose voices it centers, and for what purposes.
  • Encourage and support the early planning and development of significant, innovative, and well-conceived digital edition projects rooted in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American history and ethnic studies.
  • Stimulate meaningful, mutually beneficial, and respectful collaborations that help to bridge longstanding institutional inequalities by promoting resource sharing and capacity building at all levels, and that build into their plans a variety of means for achieving meaningful community and user input and engagement.

Grants are awarded to collaborative teams consisting of at least two scholar-editors, as well as one or more archivists, digital scholars, data curators, and/or other support and technical staff, as appropriate to fulfill the planning goals and early-implementation needs of the proposed edition. We strongly encourage applications from collaborative teams that include BIPOC faculty and staff in key positions, and that include editorial, archival, and technical staff at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and/or other Indigenous and Native American tribal scholars and community members, and members of the Asian American community. We also encourage projects to seek out community members as well as undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to (and benefit from) participation in all phases of the project.

Eligible projects in this category typically focus on collecting, describing, preserving, compiling, transcribing, annotating, editing, encoding, and publishing original manuscript or typewritten documents, and/or historical records in other formats, such as analog audio and/or born-digital records.  

Eligible activities in this category may include:

  • Travel and related costs for planning meetings (intended for geographically-dispersed collaborations). 
  • Relevant training for project directors and staff, including but not limited to NHPRC-supported training opportunities through its Institutes for Historical Editing program.
  • Associated costs for technical planning, wire-framing, and testing and evaluation with target audience(s) to determine needs and priorities.

For projects undertaking an extensive or supplementary document search, funds also may be used for initial surveying of collections, document imaging and collection, canvassing, community outreach, and related travel.

This grant program does not support the production of film or video documentaries. For a comprehensive list of the Commission's limitations on funding, please see What We Do and Do Not Fund. Applications that consist entirely of ineligible activities will not be considered. 

Award Information

A grant is for up to two years and for up to $60,000 per year. The Commission expects to make up to 6 grants in this category for a total of up to $720,000. Start-Up Grants begin no earlier than January 1, 2022.

The Commission requires that grant recipients acknowledge NHPRC grant assistance in all publications, publicity, and other products that result from its support.


  • U.S. nonprofit organizations or institutions
  • U.S. colleges, universities, and other academic institutions
  • State or local government agencies
  • Federally-acknowledged or state-recognized Native American tribes or groups

Applications from and collaborations involving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges are strongly encouraged.

In order to ensure eligibility, applicants should first review the rules and regulations governing NHPRC grants under the Administering an NHPRC Grant section. 

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is not a requirement. However, the applicant's financial contribution may include both direct and indirect expenses, in-kind contributions, non-Federal third-party contributions, and any income earned directly by the project. 

NHPRC grant recipients are not permitted to use grant funds for indirect costs (as indicated in 2 CFR 2600.101). Indirect costs must be listed under the applicant's cost sharing contribution if they are included in the budget. 

Other Requirements

Applicant organizations must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting an application, maintain SAM registration throughout the application and award process, and include a valid DUNS number in their application. Details on SAM registration and requesting a DUNS number can be found at the System for Award Management website at Please refer to the User Guides section and the Grants Registrations PDF.

Agency Contact

Before beginning the process, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Director for Publishing, Darrell Meadows (, 202-357-5321) at the NHPRC who may: 

  • Offer advice about preparing the proposal;
  • Advise the applicant about the review process; 
  • Answer questions about what activities are eligible for support; 
  • Read and comment on a preliminary draft. Applicants should submit a draft at least 2 months before the deadline. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit drafts, but drafts are not required. Draft materials may be submitted anytime up to (but no later than) the draft deadline specified above. 

Application Information

You must use to submit your Proposal. All information necessary to apply is included in this announcement, the Application Instructions, and the forms on If you need the information supplied in an alternative format, please call the NHPRC at 202-357-5010.

In the event that is experiencing technical difficulties that prevent submission, applicants must first attempt to resolve the issue with the Contact Center (800-518-4726). If cannot solve the problem, applicants must contact Jeff de la Concepcion (; 202-357-5022) no later than 3:00 Eastern Time on the day of the deadline with their valid Contact Center trouble-ticket number. Applications that fail to meet deadlines for reasons other than those noted will not be considered for funding.

Preparing Your Application

Using the Application Instructions, fill out:

  • the Standard Form 424, 
  • the SF 424B, 
  • the NHPRC Budget Form. 

You must also prepare a Project Narrative and Supplementary Materials to attach to your Application Package.

Project Narrative

The Project Narrative is a description of the proposal. It should be no more than 20 double-spaced pages in 12-pt type on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins.

Please organize your narrative in sections, as follows:

Overview (no more than 3 pages): Provide a clear and concise rationale for the proposed digital edition project. Briefly describe your project team, identifying its participants and its proposed activities and expected results. Describe the expected outcomes and benefits of the project for advancing research and teaching in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and/or Native American history. Outline the core opportunities and challenges you foresee in undertaking this work. Also provide a very brief budget summary.

Project Team:  Describe your collaborative project team in fuller detail. Project teams should elect a Project Director to lead the effort. (At the beginning of this section, please list the Names, Titles, Institutions, Phone Numbers, and E-Mail Addresses of the Project Director and Key Personnel (Please ensure that the project director listed in the Narrative is the same person listed in Section 8 (f), of the SF 424. If your institution requires a different contact person on the SF 424, please explain in one sentence.) The team should also include a lead representative from each of the participating institutions. (It is assumed that the applicant institution will serve as the project’s institutional host.) In addition to the Key Personnel, list the names and affiliations of all individuals who have already committed to participating in the planning process, as well as those who have been invited but have not yet committed to participating, and those who might be invited, including any individuals who will serve as advisors. Explain the contributions that both the committed participants and the potential participants would make to the planning process. If applicable, provide a description of legal and operational relationships with other organizations, subcontractors, consultants, administering agents, or collaborators on the project.

The Proposed Digital Edition and Its User Communities: Describe the conceptual and documentary scope of the proposed collaborative digital edition, including a description of the historical materials that will form the core of the edition, whether and to what extent the effort will require systematic search and collection of records, and/or the virtual unification of digitized records, and the amount and type of work (if any) that has been completed to date. Describe your project team’s anticipated user communities and how the envisioned digital edition is expected to advance the particular subfield(s), research area(s), and communities it is intended to support.  Letters of support from relevant individuals, institutions, and organizations should be included in the Supplementary Materials.

Planning Issues: Outline the most pressing issues or challenges (four or five at minimum) that your project team will need to address in forming a successful and sustainable collaborative digital edition project. In this section, please also describe the project team’s current state of thinking and planning around the following (it is expected that some, though probably not all, of these areas will have received some consideration by existing team members):

  • Project conception, scope and design
  • Staffing and collaborative project administration and management
  • Training and other relevant professional development
  • Target audience(s)
  • Student and user community input and engagement
  • Editorial policies
  • Technical architecture and digital workflow
  • Virtual unification of digitized collections
  • Online publication, dissemination, and discovery
  • User experience and accessibility
  • Digital preservation strategies
  • Long-term sustainability

Plan of work: Outline each stage of the planned work within the proposed grant period, in 6-month increments, identifying which staff members are responsible for which tasks. If needed, you may clarify complex work plans with a more detailed work plan in the supplemental materials. (Your work plan should be clearly aligned with the planning issues outlined in the previous section as well as your proposed budget.)

Performance Objectives: List six to ten objectives (or more, as appropriate to and in alignment with your work plan) by which we can measure your performance. You should focus on quantifying what you intend to accomplish and complete.

Supplementary Materials: Submit no more than 35 pages of the following Supplementary Materials:

  • Résumés for all members of the project team (no more than two pages each; please use only institutional addresses and phone numbers)
  • Endorsement letters and Letters of Commitment (from the applicable partner institution(s), project team members, institutional administrators, and other individuals or organizations involved in the planning process)
  • Position announcement for any new positions to be paid for by grant funds
  • A detailed work plan (in either quarterly or six-month increments)
  • Projects also producing print volumes (if already contracted), must include a copy of your publication contract containing the necessary permissions or assignment of rights to publish all of the edition’s content (transcription, annotation, and other apparatus) in a searchable, online edition accessible to the public.

If these materials are available on a web site, please provide the URL(s). Reviewers appreciate applications with fewer supplemental pages.

Project Budget

You must submit a budget on the NHPRC Budget Form available on the Application Instructions page. Note that the form itself contains additional instructions. You may include with your application a Narrative Budget Supplement for budget categories that require further detail.  

Submission Dates and Times

  • Draft (optional):   Anytime up to April 1, 2021
  • Final Deadline:   June 9, 2021

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2022.

Application Review Information

The NHPRC staff will acknowledge receipt of the application soon after we receive it. The following evaluation criteria and weights will be used by NHPRC staff and other reviewers to form recommendations.

Criteria for NHPRC-Mellon Start-Up Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History

  1. Quality and feasibility of the project’s conceptual scope and the proposed edition’s ability to support new research in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American history and studies. (30 percent) 
  2. Quality and extent of the proposed collaboration, including its ability to enhance, build upon, and include the capacities of all participants, and to further the planning, development, and early implementation of the proposed edition. (30 percent) 
  3. Quality and extent of community and end-user engagement and input, as implemented in the development of the proposal and as envisioned for later stages of project development. (20 percent) 
  4. Coherence, effectiveness, and reasonableness of the proposed work plan and budget, including goals and initial ideas for online publication. (20 percent) 

Application Review Process

After submitting a proposal, do not discuss the pending application to the NHPRC with any Member of the Commission. Commission members must ensure fair and equitable treatment of all applications and do not discuss proposals with individual applicants.

Peer Reviewers 

We will ask 5 to 7 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.

Commission Staff 

Approximately 3-4 months after the submission deadline, we will send to the Project Director anonymous copies of reviewers' comments along with specific questions from the Commission staff. Applicants have an opportunity to answer the reviewers and Commission staff’s questions and comments.

The Commission 

After reviewing proposals, reviewers’ comments, the applicants' responses, and evaluations by the Commission staff, the Commission members deliberate and make funding recommendations to the Archivist of the United States, who has final statutory authority and selects award recipients. Throughout this process, all members of the Commission and its staff follow conflict-of-interest rules to assure fair and equal treatment of every application.

Award Administration Information


Grants are contingent upon available funds. In some cases, the Commission will adjust grant amounts depending upon the number of recommended proposals and total budget. The Commission may recommend that the Archivist approve the proposal and extend an offer of a grant with applicable terms and conditions, or it may recommend rejection of the proposal. 

Grant applicants will be notified within two weeks after the Archivist's decision.

Successful applicants will receive an informal offer of award outlining the steps that must be accomplished to qualify for funding. Those steps include verification of their acceptance of general terms and conditions, completion of a survey on their Financial Capability and Accounting Systems, and finalization of performance objectives for their project. 

For awards that meet or exceed the Federal government’s simplified acquisition threshold (currently $150,000), NHPRC staff will first review and consider any information about the applicant that appears in the designated integrity and performance system. This information is accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313). After this review, NHPRC staff will follow the procedures in 2 CFR 200, subpart F, Appendix I, part e.3.

Once these are received, reviewed and acceptable, the NHPRC will issue an official award notice.

Administrative Requirements

In order to ensure that you can manage a grant, applicants should review the Federal grant administration rules and regulations governing grants from the NHPRC listed in the Administering an NHPRC Grant section.


In most cases, award recipients will report on their performance in narrative reports every six months and submit financial reports once a year.