Soul of the City Partnership Grant for Youth Programs

HumanitiesDC is seeking applications for a Humanities-driven program for young people, between 14 and 19. Grantees will execute a program and submit at least two lesson plans, in addition to working in their grant cohort to produce a best practices guide.

Soul of the City is designed to provide young people, ages 14 to 19, an opportunity to explore the role of the Humanities in asking and answering critical questions about the world. The Soul of the City grant encourages the development and execution of a high-quality, national model level, Humanities-driven, youth engagement program. This award recognizes innovative models that center the empowerment and meaningful engagement of young people through programs and projects that build civic engagement, leadership skills, and employ social emotional learning, engaged scholarship, and experiential learning.

Awarded since 2014, Soul of the City grants, provide communities, neighborhood organizations, churches, and educational organizations the opportunity to work with young people. Our 2019 Soul of the City funding cycle seeks grant partners who will create programming and curriculum that represent exemplary models for Humanities-driven scholarship and youth engagement.

Click here to download the full RFP for the Soul of the City Partnership Grant program.

Award Amount:

Applicants may request up to $20,000.

Project Period:

This opportunity is for projects conducted between September 15, 2019 and September 15, 2020.


All proposals must be received by Monday, July 29, 2019 at 11:59pm.

What are we looking for?

Educational Philosophy

The Humanities represent a broad range of fields, many of which are interdisciplinary.

Teaching through the Humanities allows for rigorous, engaging, and innovative scholarship that enhances the educational experiences of students. The Humanities as a field is dedicated to investigating what makes us human and how we experience the human condition. To that end, we are dedicated to creating environments where young learners are encouraged to think deeply and critically, take ownership of their own learning, and explore the world around them.

At the core of these beliefs is a passion for the importance of experiential learning and the role teaching plays in opening a student’s perspective and experience. We recognize that learning is an ongoing process. Humanities DC, recognizes the vital role educators, facilitators, and instructors play in guiding students as they explore new terrains and connect to new ideas. As such, we acknowledge how crucial pedagogy is to creating affirming spaces in which students are appropriately challenged, given spaces to grow, and most importantly guided toward the production of first-rate Humanities work.

HumanitiesDC strives to incorporate four key learning methodologies into our pedagogy:

  • Social-emotional learning
  • Action-research approaches
  • Project-based learning
  • Dialogue-based engagement

Our pedagogical commitments are grounded in the concept that learning happens for students in diverse ways. Learning is determined not only by the content of a curriculum, but also by the environment in which it occurs and how it is delivered.

Pedagogical Approach

Social Emotional Learning[1]

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which learners acquire and effectively apply knowledge from their coursework. Social emotional learning helps students develop critical thinking and other skills that are necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. A social emotional learning approach is based on the concept that the best learning emerges in supportive, firm, and creative teacher student relationships. SEL is based on the idea that students thrive in engaging, meaningful, and challenging learning environments.

Social emotional learning can help students cultivate the following skills:

  • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Recognize emotions and responses in self and others
  • Regulate and analyze strong emotions – positive or negative
  • Recognize individual strengths and areas of growth
  • Ability to listen and communicate accurately and clearly
  • Take the perspective of others into consideration
  • Establish positive and realistic goals
  • Work cooperatively and effectively in groups

To practice SEL, a program should:

  • Create opportunities for lively student participation
  • Promote close reading and analysis of text(s)
  • Incorporate current and contemporary issues into the curriculum
  • Employ multiple learning styles
  • Provide students with opportunities for dialogue
  • Build opportunities for reflection into the curriculum

Interactive Learning

Interactive Learning (IL) focuses on student engagement and participation in the curriculum. As a pedagogical approach, IL encourages students to apply knowledge and concepts to real life situations. IL avoids passive learning scenarios (lectures) and instead focuses on helping participants develop their own knowledge and connections to what they are learning. As such, interactive learning:

  • Promotes discussion and dialogue
  • Uses project-based activities to further learning
  • Scaffolds lesson plans in order to incorporate a range of learning styles – tactile, kinesthetic, visual, and auditory.


Community partnerships – HumanitiesDC was founded in 1980 as the DC Community Humanities Council, and our commitment to encouraging grassroots scholarship has been a continued to be a part of our grantmaking. All proposed grant projects must demonstrate both how the community will benefit from the project and be actively involved in its creation. Rigorous scholarship is an important part of any funded proposal, but the best applications will propose projects that create partnerships between academia and the public.

Strong scholar involvement – One of the goals of HumanitiesDC’s partnership grant programs is to encourage productive relationships between humanities scholars and the public. All proposed projects must specify a scholar, and how that person will guide the project throughout the grant cycle.  Typical scholars have an advanced degree in the humanities discipline most closely related to the proposed project and many have university affiliations, but an appropriate scholar does not always need these credentials. In every case, 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.

Educational Product with Lasting Value – Ultimately, every applicant, even those proposing public events or exhibits, must commit to producing a tangible educational product that can be archived in HumanitiesDC’s DC Digital Museum. This product is the primary expected result of all awarded grants and a crucial part of HumanitiesDC’s goal of building an online repository of films, publications, and other materials related to the humanities in Washington. In many ways, the delivery of a well-researched, original, and eminently useful final product at the end of the grant cycle is what determines the success of the grant.

Eagerness to work closely with HDC Grants Officers – HumanitiesDC grants officers strive to establish strong partnership-level relationships with their assigned grantee cohort. In the HumanitiesDC cohort model, Grants Officers work closely with grantees with regular check-in and information-sharing meetings, professional development and capacity-building workshops, and networking opportunities. Grants officers work with HumanitiesDC’s communications staff to promote grantee events and activities, and to seek press coverage for every funded project. Finally, grants officers provide capacity-building and technical assistance, serving as a sounding-board, giving advice and feedback on project activities and, ultimately, taking delivery of the final educational product. In addition to an overall final product description, the grant application will also require:

  • A description of collaboration and community involvement
  • A list of the project team members and their roles
  • A marketing and evaluation strategy and plan
  • An audience impact statement
  • A budget and budget narrative.

How to Apply:

Download and review the full RFP here. When you are ready to begin your proposal, visit the HDC grants portal at

[1] Definition based on Social Emotional Learning overview developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Retrieved from:


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