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INDIANAPOLIS — As humanities organizations across Indiana look to build back stronger following the impact of COVID-19, a new wave of relief grants is giving them a boost.

Indiana Humanities announced more than $800,000 in federal pandemic-relief grants have been awarded to 78 organizations across the state. The funds are provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“In supporting this funding, the U.S. Congress has sent the message that the humanities are essential to our recovery from the impact of COVID-19,” said Keira Amstutz. “These funds allow us to put much-needed resources into Indiana communities, where they can be used to strengthen humanities organizations and the programming they provide to Hoosiers.”  

Keira is the president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. She says the relief funds come as many organizations are struggling with lack of funding and lack of income from programming.

“So many organizations had gatherings every year where they were bringing people together as part of their fundraising operations, and many of those events have been canceled or scaled way down,” Keira said.

Many humanities organizations were forced to either shut down or cut back on staffing due to the pandemic. One of the organizations that had to briefly shut down was the Indiana State Museum.

Eric Todd, vice president of operations for the Indiana State Museum said they had to shut down for three months during the height of the pandemic. He says a large part of their reopening process was making sure they had a safe experience available to visitors.

The Indiana State Museum foundation received $20,000 in operating grants and $10,000 in programming grants through the latest round of grant funding. Eric says they are using this funding to help provide a safe outdoor experience for their visitors.

“Being able to offer our school break camps, primarily outdoor and really focusing on history, nature, but spending that time outside rather than putting kids together in a classroom setting,” Eric said.

The museum is expanding its outdoor experiences through its 12 locations throughout the state including developing walking tours at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site and Catharine Coffin House Archaeology tour at the Angel Mounds State Historic Site

“One of the things that make us special as a museum system is that these are real places with historical significance, so it’s important that that school kids get out and still get to be in those environments and see those things,” Eric said. “So by offering virtual and outdoor opportunities for them, it lets them do that in a safe place rather than being kind of in a smaller indoor setting.”

To distribute the funds, Indiana Humanities invited nonprofits to apply for two types of grants: Operating Support Grants and Programming and Capacity-Building Grants. 

The operating support grants help to cover basic costs like salaries and rent and utilities.

The programming and capacity-building grants can be used to put together programs that help them to respond to the pandemic and help their communities understand the impact of the pandemic. They could also use the grant for capacity building and strategic planning so they can move forward from the pandemic. 

The grant process was open to organizations including:

  • Historical societies/heritage groups
  • Museums that focus on humanities subjects
  • Historical homes and sites
  • College/university-affiliated humanities centers and institutes that provide public programs
  • Other nonprofits whose core mission centers on developing and implementing humanities programming

“It was tough making the decisions,” said George Hanlin, director of grants for Indiana Humanities. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t support everyone who submitted an application, but we’re really proud of what we were able to support and the organizations that we funded are doing immense valuable work in their communities, so we’re glad to give them some relief funds.”

Another Indianapolis-based recipient of the grants is the Madam Walker Legacy Center. They received $15,000 from the operating grant and $10,000 from the programming grant.

Kristian Little Stricklen, President of the center, said the initial spread of the coronavirus derailed plans for in-person events at the center and the grand re-opening celebration.

“Unfortunately a tremendous source of MWLC event ticket sales and 3rd party event venue rental revenue could not be realized, causing a loss of at least $1 million to date,” Kristian said.

Kristian says they were able to pivot to a new operating mode, and with support from the pandemic-relief grants, they will be able to physically re-open its theatre doors for several upcoming events, including “Open-House October” and their 40th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration and Statewide Student Essay Contest in January 2022.

The following organizations were awarded funding through the pandemic-relief grants:

First Congressional District

  • Calumet Collaborative, Whiting ($10,000/Programming)
  • Cedar Lake Historical Association, Cedar Lake ($5,000/Operating)
  • Decay Devils, Gary ($5,000/Operating)
  • Legacy Foundation, Merrillville ($10,000/Programming)
  • Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse, Gary ($10,000/Programming)

Second Congressional District 

  • Elkhart County Historical Society, Bristol ($5,000/Operating)
  • Fulton County Historical Society, Rochester ($10,000/Operating)
  • Goshen Public Library, Goshen ($9,549/Programming)
  • Hesston Steam Museum, La Porte ($10,000/Operating)
  • History Museum, South Bend ($10,000/Programming)
  • Holy Cross College, Notre Dame ($10,000/Programming)
  • LGBTQ Center, South Bend ($10,000/Operating)
  • Ruthmere Museum, Elkhart ($10,000/Operating)
  • Ruthmere Museum, Elkhart ($10,000/Programming)
  • Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame ($7,235/Programming)
  • Studebaker National Museum, South Bend ($20,000/Operating)

Third Congressional District 

  • Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust, Fort Wayne ($5,000/Operating)
  • Allen County–Fort Wayne Historical Society, Fort Wayne ($15,000/Operating)
  • ARCH, Fort Wayne ($10,000/Operating)
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Auburn ($20,000/Operating)
  • Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, New Haven ($10,000/Operating)
  • Huntington County Historical Society, Huntington ($9,900/Programming)
  • Jay County Historical Society, Portland ($5,000/Operating)

Fourth Congressional District

  • Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Greencastle ($10,000/Programming)
  • Cass County Historical Society, Logansport ($5,000/Operating)
  • Howard County Historical Society, Kokomo ($10,000/Operating)
  • Howard County Historical Society, Kokomo ($6,460/Programming)
  • Montgomery County Historical Society, Crawfordsville ($10,000/Programming)
  • Ouiatenon Preserve, Lafayette ($10,000/Operating)
  • Tippecanoe County Historical Association, Lafayette ($15,000/Operating)

Fifth Congressional District

  • Conner Prairie Museum, Fishers ($20,000/Operating)
  • Indiana Council on World Affairs, Indianapolis ($5,000/Operating)

Sixth Congressional District 

  • Bartholomew County Historical Society, Columbus ($10,000/Operating)
  • Bartholomew County Historical Society, Columbus ($10,000/Programming)
  • Dearborn County Historical Society, Lawrenceburg ($5,000/Operating)
  • Delaware County Historical Society, Muncie ($10,000/Operating)
  • Facing Project Gives, Muncie ($5,000/Operating)
  • Historic Madison, Inc., Madison ($10,000/Operating)
  • Historic Madison, Inc., Madison ($10,000/Programming)
  • Jefferson County Historical Society, Madison ($10,000/Operating)
  • Jennings County Public Library, North Vernon ($10,000/Programming)
  • Randolph County Historical Society, Winchester ($5,000/Operating)
  • Shelby County Historical Society, Shelbyville ($5,000/Operating)
  • Wayne County Historical Museum, Richmond ($10,000/Operating)

Seventh Congressional District

  • Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, Indianapolis ($20,000/Operating)
  • Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Freetown Village, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Harrison Center, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)
  • Indiana Album, Indianapolis ($5,000/Operating)
  • Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis ($20,000/Operating)
  • Indiana Landmarks, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)
  • Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Indiana State Museum Foundation, Indianapolis ($20,000/Operating)
  • Indiana State Museum Foundation, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)
  • Indianapolis Film Project/Kan-Kan Cinema, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Indianapolis Film Project/Kan-Kan Cinema, Indianapolis ($9,000/Programming)
  • Indianapolis Propylaeum, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Indy Reads, Indianapolis ($15,000/Operating)
  • Irvington Historical Society, Indianapolis ($5,000/Operating)
  • James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, Indianapolis ($5,000/Operating)
  • James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, Indianapolis ($9,660/Programming)
  • Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)
  • Kheprw Institute, Indianapolis ($10,000/Operating)
  • Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Indianapolis ($15,000/Operating)
  • Madam Walker Legacy Center, Indianapolis ($15,000/Operating)
  • Madam Walker Legacy Center, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)
  • Spirit & Place, Indianapolis ($10,000/Programming)

Eighth Congressional District

  • CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Terre Haute ($20,000/Operating) 
  • Clay County Historical Society, Brazil ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Corning Heritage Center, Montgomery ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Dubois County Museum, Jasper ($10,000/Operating) 
  • Evansville African American Museum, Evansville ($10,000/Operating) 
  • Evansville Museum of ArtsHistory & Science, Evansville ($20,000/Operating) 
  • Grouseland Foundation, Vincennes ($10,000/Programming) 
  • Odon Winkelpleck Public Library, Odon ($4,000/Programming) 
  • Pike County Public Library, Petersburg ($4,000/Programming) 
  • Reitz Home Museum, Evansville ($10,000/Operating) 
  • Scotland Historical Society, Scotland ($2,500/Operating) 

Ninth Congressional District 

  • Clark County Museum, Jeffersonville ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Jackson County History Center, Brownstown ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Jeffersonville Township Public Library, Jeffersonville ($3,713/Programming) 
  • Lakota Language Consortium, Bloomington ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Monroe County History Center, Bloomington ($10,000/Operating) 
  • Monroe County History Center, Bloomington ($5,000/Programming) 
  • Preservation Alliance, Scottsburg ($5,000/Operating) 
  • Seymour Museum, Seymour ($2,500/Operating) 
  • Vintage Fire Museum and Safety Education Center, Jeffersonville ($5,000/Operating)