Giving Compass' Take:

• At Exponent Philanthropy, Phil Hall explains why funding the humanities might be an essential, under-appreciated approach to a just COVID-19 rebuild.

• How can you be sure funding the humanities effectively supports members of all communities? What are you doing to look for outside-the-box answers to recovering from COVID-19, like funding the humanities?

• Discover COVID-19 relief funds that go towards supporting the humanities.


Can we recover from the pandemic while becoming a more equitable society?

Food, housing and financial security are rightly our philanthropic priorities right now. Yet, our country is calling on us to heal persistent divides and right structural wrongs. Humanities organizations could play a pivotal role.

The humanities suffer benign neglect in philanthropy. Many funders concentrate on addressing inequity and promoting a better quality of life for underrepresented populations by making grants for education, the arts and community development. But there is a case to be made for funding the humanities, now more than ever.

Understanding history allows us to ask big questions about our present. We have all seen large-scale protests against racism. Locally, smaller groups of residents are speaking to one another about their own experiences. Humanities organizations can support this meaningful examination.

In our world, authority and power come from knowledge, and this is often conveyed from a position of educated privilege. But it need not be. The field is acknowledging that we risk perpetuating harms by not listening to all people. Whose knowledge do we value? And how do we center lived experience?

Well-established organizations are shifting. Mass Humanities has prioritized transforming the stewardship of the humanities field in the state. The Boston Athenaeum, a membership library founded in 1807, is becoming more welcoming and collaborative, encouraging civic discourse beyond their Beacon Hill reading rooms.

Expanding access is also important. The Clemente Course in the Humanities offers tuition-free college-level classes to adults in underserved communities. It invites participants to talk about the challenges they face in the humanities. And the experience can be transformative; many continue their education or assume leadership roles in their communities.

Read the full article about funding the humanities by Phil Hall at Exponent Philanthropy.