American Textbooks Potential Grant Sources


After searches on both the Foundation Center and other internet searches, I determined almost all projects that involve digitizing American history books receive funding from the NEH or other government sources. I would expect (or hope) to get the bulk of my funding from there. When performing a keyword search for "textbooks," I discovered most funding for textbooks either comes from religious groups paying for religious texts for schools (Catholic groups especially) or digitizing textbooks so they can be used by disabled students. However, I was able to get creative by searching grants made to my choice host institution, the New York Public Library. Though groups like the Visual Resource Association (VRA) would support projects like mine, they only give out very small ($1500) grants; all of these organizations regularly give out much larger grants, from $10,000s to millions of dollars.


Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: This well-funded foundation is known for primarily promoting math-and science-based education initiatives. However, recently they have given multi-million dollar grants to fund digitizing rare book collections at the National Archives (including some prominent collections that are American history, not science, based) as well as to Wikipedia for promoting diversity and access to knowledge. I feel that following that example, as my project deals with often-overlooked groups in American history, I could apply under their Digital Information Technology and the Dissemination of Information program area. I would emphasize that, though my site is geared toward high school students, it will also link to scholarly criticism of history writing and it will be absolutely accessible and usable to anyone - I think this would fall under the "grants in universal access to knowledge support the digitization and democratization of scientific and cultural knowledge in all its forms and aim to preserve its openness and accessibility for the widest public benefit." Moreover, the New York based foundation has a national scope with some special interests in NYC, which I think is perfect for my project: it is designed for students across the country, but the group of teacher-consultants will probably be NYC-based.

Smith Richardson Foundation: This Connecticut-based institution is concerned with American public policy and tends to skew conservative at times (giving lots of money to the American Enterprise Institute). However, in 2009, they gave a $20,000 grant to the non-partisan Center for Education Studies New York, specifically funding a project "for Islam and the publishers to disseminate the American Textbook Council's findings on the treatment of Islam and history of the Muslim world in the social studies textbooks used in U.S. secondary schools." I would emphasize how my project is also mining textbooks for their use of language, but how it can also function as a way to preserve classic texts on American history by well-known scholars for anyone to examine. A more conservative institution might like having the materials that older generations used to be available, and I could play up "little red schoolhouse" nostalgia.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: Another large, well-funded, New York-based foundation, the Mellon Foundation is known for supporting (among other initiatives) libraries and conservation efforts. I think my program would fit under their Scholarly Communications and Information Technology program area, whose main objectives read: (1) to support libraries and archives in their efforts to preserve and provide access to materials of broad cultural and scholarly significance; (2) to assist scholars in the development of specialized resources that promise to open or advance fields of study in the humanities and humanistic social sciences; and (3) to strengthen the publication of humanistic scholarship and its dissemination to the widest possible audience. Obviously, my project is based in a public library, and I would emphasize how American history textbooks certainly have a broad cultural appeal. Again, I would also play up how anyone, not just high school students, could easily use my site to get access to these textbooks in full.

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