On September 15, the National Humanities Alliance produced a virtual briefing that discussed NEH funding for diverse histories and civics in K–12 education. Since 2018, NHA has worked with over 20 NEH-funded professional development programs for K-12 educators to survey their impacts. Cecily Hill, director of community initiatives, was joined in discussion by four of the project directors we’ve worked with: Alice Nash, Rolando Herts, Stacey Greer, and Ray Locker. The event was a fruitful opportunity for congressional staff and others to hear about the data we’ve collected on these programs over the past 3 years that attest to their tremendous value, and to hear directly from project directors about how these programs offer crucial professional development to our nation’s educators, illuminate diverse histories, and support civic education in our nation’s classrooms.
This past spring, when universities were shutting down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE issued a temporary exemption, which allowed nonimmigrant international students to stay in the U.S. while their classes went virtual. On July 6, ICE issued a decision that would end temporary visa exemptions for immigrant students whose upcoming coursework will be entirely online.
In early April, we launched a survey that asked humanities organizations to share the challenges they are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Museums, historic sites, and historical societies told us that closing their doors and canceling major events has led to major financial stress, leading them to face lay-offs and the possibility that they won’t survive as organizations.
As Congress begins to consider additional COVID-19 relief funding packages, we are calling on humanities advocates to contact their Members of Congress this week to urge additional relief funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. While we are very grateful for $75 million awarded to the NEH in the CARES Act, currently available funding will cover only a fraction of the needed assistance.
Every March, we organize Humanities Advocacy Day to ensure that Members of Congress hear from their constituents about the value of federal funding for the humanities. For first time advocates, walking through the marble halls of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Hill’s largest congressional office building, can be intimidating. And meeting with your Member of Congress to ask them for millions of dollars for the National Endowment for the Humanities can be even more so.
Earlier this week, Congress released its spending deal for FY 2020, which included a $7.25 million increase for the NEH, the largest increase we have seen in a decade. If enacted, which it is expected to be, this would bring the agency’s budget to $162.25 million.
What’s your #1 piece of humanities advocacy advice?
We’ve asked conference participants who spend a chunk of their time advocating for the humanities what one piece of advice they would offer humanities advocates. Check out their sessions at the National Humanities Conference to learn more!
October is National Arts and Humanities Month, and we hope you will join us in taking this opportunity to raise the profile of humanities advocacy.
This past Tuesday, we joined forces with the University of Iowa to bring Iowa’s congressional staffers into conversation with 35 representatives from universities, museums, libraries, and archives. Hosted at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, the event was one in a series of in-district meetings intended to educate public officials on the value of the humanities to their communities.