Our Mission

To connect Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.


Who Are We?

Cal Humanities is a non-profit that promotes the humanities in California in order to help create “a state of open mind.”

Through our work, we inspire Californians to learn more, dig deeper, and start conversations that matter among our dramatically diverse people.

What Do We Stand For?

We believe that the humanities are valuable and necessary. They help us explore that which binds us together and also makes each of us unique—the magic and mystery of being human. Through the power of literature, we gain insight and empathy. History’s lens lets us better understand the present and improve the world in which we live. Critical inquiry skills help us make sense of our experiences and become engaged lifelong learners. The humanities are not only a means for elevating the quality of our lives—they are truly vital for a healthy society.

Our mission: to connect Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.

Our long-term vision: Californians possess the knowledge, understanding, respect, and empathy to create a more thoughtful, open, and just state.

We are committed to asking and exploring questions that matter, to striving for greater understanding and insight, to finding meaning, and to building the bridges, partnerships, skills, and opportunities that can make California a state of open mind.

What Do We Do?

Cal Humanities has been bringing people together around their history and culture for more than 30 years. Every day we ask ourselves: what does it take to create “a state of open mind?”

An independent non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, we were founded in 1975 as a granting organization and have grown and evolved over the years. We promote the humanities as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect us to each other in order to become a better California. We produce, fund, create, and support humanities-based projects and programs, eye-opening cultural experiences, and meaningful conversations. Our audience is as diverse as the 38 million people from every corner of the globe that make up our state.

About Our New Look and Name

The open quote. It’s the start of every great idea. It represents the beginning of dialogue, thought, conversations...the figurative start to a perspective that may change how we think about the world. Californians are diverse in their backgrounds and thinking, which is why we want our work to be open, accessible, and representative of all these rich aspects of our state’s diversity—and potential. Ultimately, it’s our tool to create a state of open mind.

Formerly known as the California Council for the Humanities, we have recently changed our name to Cal Humanities to underscore our organization’s increased efforts to promote the humanities as relevant, meaningful ways to better understand the human condition. Our new name reflects our aim to become more interactive and accessible as we provide our diverse audiences with a host of meaningful experiences to engage with the humanities and our fellow Californians.

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