Thursday, January 16, 2014

$500,000 NEH Challenge Grant Award

The Library Company has been awarded a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to endow the Program in African American History. Announced last month, the award is one of three Challenge Grants awarded to institutions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the year and requires a 3:1 match. The resulting $2 million will create an endowment to support fellowships, programs, acquisitions, publications, and administrative expenses for the Program, and provide bridge funding to support these costs while the endowment is being raised. A permanently endowed program will increase scholarly attention to the experience of people from the African diaspora in early America and create a more complete understanding of the origins of our society.

The Library Company’s Program in African American History is the only one in the nation dedicated to promoting the study and understanding of African American history, culture, and thought in pre-20th century America and the Atlantic World. The Program was created in 2007 with the support of the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation to formalize the Library Company’s pioneering contributions to the promotion of the scholarly study of African American history before 1900 and to disseminate the scholarship produced to an engaged public. This endowment will make permanent PAAH’s ability to engender new ways of understanding the history of African Americans, to contribute to diversity within the academy, and to create an engaged community of professional specialists and an educated general public. Says Program Director and University of Delaware Associate Professor Erica Armstrong Dunbar, “This funding will enable the Library Company to realize the legacy of founder Benjamin Franklin and achieve our full potential as an independent humanities institution—contributing to the creation of new knowledge and helping to break down social barriers to participation in this process.”

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