Lilly Endowment: Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative.

Lilly Endowment is pleased to announce a new open and competitive round of its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative. Through this initiative, the Endowment is inviting museums, historical sites and other cultural organizations to submit concept papers that describe potential plans to mount exhibitions, conduct educational programs and/or engage in other activities to provide fair, accurate and balanced portrayals of the role religion has played and continues to play in the United States and around the world.

The primary aim of the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative is to improve the public understanding of religion and thus foster greater knowledge of and respect for diverse religious traditions. 

The Endowment anticipates awarding a total of up to $78 million through planning and implementation grants to approximately 30select museums and cultural organizations to support projects that demonstrate significant promise to strengthen their organizations’ capacities to incorporate religion more fully into their interpretive activities and public programs.

Organizations that submit the most compelling concept papers will receive planning grants of up to $100,000 each and will be invited to submit proposals for implementation grants of up to $2.5 million each to develop and implement their concepts.

More information about the initiative may be found on the Endowment’s website at:

This grant opportunity builds on earlier Endowment-funded efforts to enhance public understanding of religion, including grants to support religion projects at more than three dozen organizations made through invitational rounds of the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative and other related grants. These museums and cultural organizations include: the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA, Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, International African American Museum in Charleston, SC, MFA Boston, Boston, MA, National Museum of African American Music, Nashville, TN, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL, National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, MO, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, DC, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, and Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA. A complete list of organizations receiving Endowment grants for this purpose may be found on the Endowment’s website

This new open and competitive round of the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative seeks to expand these efforts by providing support to other museums and cultural organizations to undertake similar projects that are in alignment with their mission and appropriate for their constituencies.

As you will read, interested organizations may register for information sessions to learn more about the initiative. Concept Papers should be submitted via the Endowment’s website by October 30, 2023.

The Endowment recognizes that museums and other cultural organizations are among the most trusted institutions in the United States and play essential roles in informing visitors about the world. We hope that some organizations in your networks will be interested in this grant opportunity and consider submitting an application to participate in this initiative. 

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