About We the People

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About We The People

We the People is an NEH program designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles.

NEH was founded on the belief that cultivating the best of the humanities has real and tangible benefits for civic life. Through We the People, NEH has rededicated itself to this mission, and is leading a renaissance in knowledge about American history and principles among all our citizens. Launched on Constitution Day, September 17, 2002, We the People celebrated its fifth anniversary in September 2007.

Funding for We The People

  • Since its inception, NEH’s We The People program has been appropriated more than $66 million in new funding from Congress. An additional $9 million in NEH matching funds have been made available for We The People projects, bringing the program’s funding total to nearly $75 million.
  • Grants awarded through the We the People program have leveraged approximately $18 million in third-party funds for projects on American history and culture.

Notable accomplishments

  • The overwhelming majority of funding for the We The People program is awarded through NEH’s core grant-making divisions. To date, 1,500 projects have received NEH support under the We The People program.
  • Landmarks of American History and Culture supports enrichment workshops for K-12 teachers and community college faculty at important historic sites. To date, workshops have been offered at 51 locations nationwide, serving nearly 10,000 school and community college educators.
  • The We The People Bookshelf program is one of several important projects supported directly through We The People. Since 2003, NEH has delivered free sets of classic books, based on themes central to American history and culture, to more than 9,000 school and public libraries nationwide.
  • Picturing America℠ invites young people across the country to explore the course of American history through some of the nation's greatest art treasures. A program launched in February 2008 and piloted to over 1,500 schools, Picturing America will be awarded to educators at over 26,000 schools and public libraries across the nation as a result of the first round application period. Awardees will receive large reproductions of selected art masterpieces and printed teaching materials in fall 2008.
  • The National Digital Newspaper Program, a long-term effort to create a national, digital resource of historically significant U.S. newspapers, was launched by NEH and the Library of Congress in 2004. As of February 2010, the Chronicling America Web site contains more than 1.7 million pages of newspapers published between 1880 and 1922 in fifteen states and the District of Columbia. Over the next twenty years the collection will grow to include papers published in all states and U.S. territories between 1836 and 1922.
  • We The People funds have also enabled NEH to commission new lesson plans on American political history for EDSITEment, NEH's humanities outreach website for educators
  • Other We The People projects have included a forum for scholars on History and Culture of the Early Republic, lectures on “Heroes of History” and cash awards to 22 high school juniors for their entries in the “Idea of America” Essay Contest.

How you can participate in the We The People program:

Facts about We The People (3-page PDF)

Consult the We The People Archive of past events and activities