DC Docs Partnership Grant Program

Washington, DC, as we know it today, has a treasured cultural legacy that spans generations.  HumanitiesDC (HDC) is committed to supporting projects that breathe life into the unique stories of our rich communities.  HDC is seeking qualified partners for its DC DOCS program to help us with this mission.

DC DOCS provides financial and capacity building resources to established filmmakers interested in telling a humanities story about Washington, DC through a documentary short film.  Potential projects must incorporate relevant humanities scholarship into the stories that they tell.

Selected partners will have the opportunity to work with the HDC grants team who will provide capacity-building and subject-matter support throughout the life of the project.

Proposals will be reviewed in June and selected projects will be announced in early July.

Click here to download the full RFP for this program.

Award Amount:

Applicants may request up to $30,000 depending on the scope of their projects.

Project Period:

This opportunity is for documentary short film projects conducted between July 15, 2019-July 15, 2020.


All proposals must be received by May 29, 2019.

What are we looking for?

The DC DOCS program accepts applications for funding to produce a documentary short film. Prospective projects should be:

  • led by mid-career or established filmmakers who can provide evidence of their past successes,
  • informed by humanities scholars knowledgeable about the field or subject-matter the documentary short will cover,
  • innovative, unique, and of strong educational interest to a wide public audience,
  • focused on one or more central humanities disciplines.

Applications must identify a scholar, and how that person will guide the project through the grant cycle.  Applicants must demonstrate the scholar has the appropriate expertise to serve in that role on the project and that the identified scholar has committed to working on the project throughout the grant cycle. Each funded project will result in a lasting digital final product that will be added to HumanitiesDC Digital Museum.

In addition to an overall description of the project, the grant application will also require:

  • A statement of expected impact,
  • a description of collaboration and community involvement,
  • list the project team and roles they will play,
  • timeline of film project activities/stages,
  • marketing and evaluation strategies, and
  • budget and budget narrative.

What is a Documentary Short?

An eligible documentary film is defined as a nonfiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects. It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction with a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.

This definition is based on (though not identical to) the one found in the 91st Academy Awards-Special Rules for the documentary awards.

What is a Scholar?

A scholar may be a working academic professional with an advanced degree in the humanities discipline most closely related to the proposed project, but an appropriate scholar does not always need these credentials. Some qualified scholars may lack an advanced degree or university affiliations but may be recognized subject-matter experts in the documentary project’s field of inquiry. In either case, the applicant must support their choice of scholar in the application narrative.

How to Apply:

Review the full grant RFP (click here to download). When you are ready to begin your proposal, visit the HDC grants portal at http://grantapplication.wdchumanities.org.

Additional Application and Reporting Info:

This project was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.