National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Public Engagement with Historical Records

FY 2024 Grant Announcement (Initial)

Through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the National Archives support 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 Public Engagement with Historical Records projects.

Funding Opportunity Number: Engagement-202311

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 89.003

  • Draft Deadline (optional):   August 15, 2023
  • Final Deadline: November 2, 2023

NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2024

Agency Contact

Before beginning the process, applicants should contact Director for Access Programs Nancy Melley ( at the NHPRC who may:

  • Advise the applicant about the review process;
  • Answer questions about what activities are eligible for support;
  • Supply samples of successful applications;
  • Read and comment on a preliminary draft. The deadline to submit draft proposals for this program is August 15, 2023.

Grant Program Description

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"Freedom on the Move" is using a crowdsourced, comprehensive database of North American runaway slave ads to create lesson plans for New Orleans school children through a Public Engagement grant.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks projects that encourage public engagement with historical records. The idea behind this program is to form collaborations among archivists, educators, historians (including documentary editors) and people working in community-based archives to involve the public in discovering and using historical records. The NHPRC is looking for collaborative projects that create models, tools, and technologies that other institutions can freely adopt to serve other communities.

Projects that center the voices and document the history of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are especially welcome. In addition, with the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence approaching, the Commission is interested in projects that promote discovery and access to collections that explore the ideals behind our nation’s founding and the continuous debate over those ideals to the present day. 

We are seeking projects that will engage people in the study and use of historical records for institutional, educational, or personal reasons. For example, an applicant can:

  • Enlist volunteer “citizen archivists” in projects to accelerate access to historical records, especially those online. This may include, but is not limited to, efforts to identify, tag, transcribe, annotate, or otherwise enhance digitized historical records.
  • Develop educational or creative programs for K-12 students, undergraduate classes, or community members that encourage them to discover and use historical records already in repositories or that are collected as part of the project.
  • Collect primary source material from people through public gatherings and sponsor discussions or websites about the results.
  • Use historical records in artistic endeavors. This could include K-12 students, undergraduate classes, or community members. Examples include projects that encourage researching and writing life stories for performance; using record facsimiles in painting, sculpture, or audiovisual collages; or using text as lyrics for music or as music

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 normally is for one to three years. The Commission expects to make up to five grants of between $50,000 and $150,000. The total amount allocated for this program is up to $600,000. Grants begin no earlier than July 1, 2024.

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

Eligible applicants:

  • Nonprofit organizations or institutions
  • Colleges, universities, and other academic institutions
  • State or local government agencies
  • Federally-acknowledged or state-recognized Native American tribes or groups

Projects must include at least one of the eligible activities described for this program. Applications must include all required elements (S 424, NHPRC Narrative Budget Form, and Supplemental Materials), Applications that do not meet both criteria will not be considered.

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

The total costs of a project are shared between the NHPRC and the applicant organization.

Cost sharing is required. 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.

The Commission provides no more than 75 per cent of total project costs in the Public Engagement with Historical Records category. For example, a total project cost of $100,000 means the applicant institution can request up to $75,000 in NHPRC grant funds and must provide at least $25,000 in cost share.

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 Unique Entity ID in their application. To register or request a Unique Entity ID, go to Already manage an entity that does business with the federal government? You may want to consult this article on the transition from DUNS to the Unique Entity ID

Ensure your and registrations and passwords are current. It may take up to one month to register or reactive your registrations, and NHPRC will not grant deadline extensions for lack of registration.


Applicants should submit a draft proposal prior to making a formal application. Draft materials should include, at minimum, the project narrative and budget, and drafts should be sent directly to are encouraged to the Director for Access Programs Nancy Melley (, who will send comments on your proposal in time for you to make changes to a final application. The deadline for drafts to this  program is August 15, 2023. 

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 may request an alternative. To make use of the NHPRC backup system, applicants must contact Jeff de la Concepcion no later than 3:00 Eastern Time on the day of the deadline with their valid Contact Center trouble-ticket number.

Preparing Your Application

Using the Application Instructions, fill out:

  • the Standard Form 424
  • the Standard Form 424B
  • the NHPRC Budget Form

You will 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:

  1. Overview: Begin with a short description of the project's purpose and goals, the nature of the collaboration, the methodological or pedagogical challenge it seeks to address, and how it will increase public engagement with historical records. Please include a short description of the archival materials that will be used during the project. The NHPRC prefers projects that plan to test their methods at multiple organizations and/or with multiple audiences, depending on the type of project.
  2. Archives Program Description: Briefly summarize your organization's archival program, describing the nature and scope of your holdings and your access policies for public use of your holdings, including days and hours of operation and those of your partners, if any. Explain the role that archivists and other members of your team will have in carrying out your public engagement program.

  3. Plan of Work: Describe the plan of work for the grant period. Describe in detail the types of activities you intend to engage in and the relationships among them. Outline each stage of the planned work. Types of activities that are typical for these projects may include planning, research, prototyping, testing, and marketing. Be specific about how you intend to publicize and evaluate the project. Applicant should not include processing and description of collections by professional staff during the project period, and digitizing of repository material by professional staff should be limited and funded from cost share. Be certain to include enough time to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the project. Final evaluations should include an assessment of the costs and benefits of employing the new methods, including user surveys. Include, in the supplementary materials, charts that indicate the people, time, and resources needed for each stage.
  4. Project Products: Describe the structure and content of the products you plan to produce for the completed project. These may include software and documentation; curriculum, training, and other educational products; websites, manuals; conference presentations; and articles; and/or brochures and pamphlets. Outline the long-term digital preservation plan (or provide a link to it) for any archival digital resources created during the project. The NHPRC expects that products will be freely available.
  5. Personnel Qualifications: For the people or positions in the proposal, provide a narrative explanation of the qualifications of the staff who will contribute to the success of this project. Demonstrate that the project staff has the skills, educational background, and experience appropriate to the project. Explain the roles of all staff named in the project budget, both for those already on staff and for those to be hired. Names, Phone and Fax Numbers, and E-Mail Addresses of the Project Director and Key Personnel (Please ensure that the project director listed on this summary 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.) In the supplementary materials, provide a résumé of not more than two pages per person for all staff named in the project budget. For those staff or consultants to be hired for the project, provide position descriptions or call for consultants.
  6. Performance Objectives: List four to six measurable objectives. Focus on quantifiable results that reflect what you intend to complete by the end of the grant period. For example, how many institutions will test your methods; what measurable improvements will there be in techniques for public participation, discovery, or use of historical records; how many people will be reached with educational and outreach programming; how many of the tools developed through the project will be available for use by the broader archival and historical publishing communities; or how many people will try these new methods. These should allow you and the Commission staff to evaluate your progress as you submit interim and final reports.


Supplementary Materials

Prepare up to 20 pages of Supplementary Materials to your Narrative, such as:

  • Résumés of named staff members (please use only institutional addresses and phone numbers. No more than two pages per staff member) (required)
  • Position descriptions for staff to be hired with grant funds (required, if applicable)
  • Detailed work plan charts that supplement the Narrative
  • Institution's preservation plan for digital materials (if applicable and available)
  • Samples from existing finding aid(s) or indexes for selected materials (required, if applicable)
  • Letters of support
  • Statements of commitment from all project partners (if applicable)

If these materials are available on a web site, please provide the URLs. 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) Deadline: August 15, 2023
  • Final Deadline: November 2, 2023

NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2024

Application Review 

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:

  1. Quality and extent of the project's potential impact in increasing public engagement with historical records, especially those online. (30 percent)
  2. Qualifications of the staff, quality of the proposed collaboration, and reasonableness of the work plan and budget (including cost share). (30 percent)
  3. Usability of the project's methodology and products by the archival and historical communities. (20 percent)
  4. Effectiveness of the dissemination plans for the project's results. (20 percent)


Application Review Process

After submitting a proposal, do not discuss the pending application 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 a panel of up to 7 external peer reviewers to evaluate and score the proposal.

The Commission
Based on reviews and staff evaluation, Commission members deliberate on proposals 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.


Award Administration Information



Grants are contingent upon available appropriated 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.

Commission staff will notify applicants of the Archivist's decision with two weeks following the meeting and will provide anonymous copies of reviewer comments to all applicants.

Successful applicants will receive an informal offer of award outlining the steps that must be accomplished to qualify for the funds. Those steps include verification of their acceptance of general terms and condition, completion of a survey on their Financial Capability and Accounting Systems, and finalization of the 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 all requested documentation is 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.