Cal Humanities is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of the human condition.
We pursue our mission by awarding grants and offering programs that enrich the lives of Californians through the humanities—sparking meaningful conversations with neighbors or colleagues, supporting documentaries that reveal startling truths, helping communities uncover their hidden stories, and reading and discussing thought-provoking books together—that is, through finding ways of making the strange familiar, the puzzling comprehensible.
We rely on the depth, creativity, and commitment of exceptional media makers, community organizations, engaged intellectuals, and public institutions to make the humanities come alive for Californians through our grant investments.
We create our own programs to plant seeds of change—whether it’s training librarians to create community conversations in their branches or supporting healthcare workers to better understand their patients as whole, complex human beings.
We launch initiatives to tackle big questions with partners across the state because we can’t do it alone, and we wouldn’t want to.
Taken together, our grantmaking, programs, and initiatives are the tools we use to share ideas, explore cultures, question assumptions, inspire collaboration, and serve California its own best medicine—our most valued collective knowledge and common humanity.
Initiative: Searching for Democracy
Our democracy is an ongoing experiment that requires us to think, converse, and engage together to be what it was meant to be: of, by, and for the people. Cal Humanities has launched the Searching for Democracy initiative to embolden our state to go on an exploration to find the kind of democracy we’re looking for.
California Documentary Project
There can be no doubt that media has a deep reach into our everyday lives. The internet, television, radio, film, and video games are shaping what we believe and how we interact with each other and the world. That’s why Cal Humanities invests in the vision of astute media makers who are showing us who we are in ways that may surprise, trouble, or fascinate—but always enlighten us.
What if people all over California were reading a book on the same topic? What would we want to say to each other? Find out how to join the conversation—this year about the meaning of democracy.
What’s the value of uncovering the countless stories of California? There are people here from every corner of the globe and that wealth of knowledge is one our state’s greatest assets. Community Stories (formerly the California Story Fund) aims to give expression to that diversity of experience and wisdom—so we can know where we come from in order to shape where we’re going.
Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare
Can reading a poem by Thomas Hardy help a nurse understand better the journey that brought a soldier to her hospital? The Literature & Medicine program’s answer is “yes.” Cal Humanities is supporting wounded soldiers who are returning home and ones who are already here by helping VA healthcare workers empathize with their patients and thereby provide more compassionate care.
Now We’re Talking
Libraries are not just places to be quiet. They are becoming neighborhood living rooms where friends and strangers alike can talk with each other about things that really matter to them and their communities. Cal Humanities is helping to animate conversations in places where all are welcome.
We Are California
California is one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet. So who exactly is here? And why did they come? We Are California is a web-based resource that helps to uncover the history of the kaleidoscopic populace of our state.
Join The Conversation