Arts, Culture, and Humanities


  • Missoula, MT

Mission Statement

VISION Humanities Montana will enrich the lives of all Montanans by fostering inquiry and stimulating civil and informed conversations about the human experience.


Humanities Montana believes in the capacity of the humanities—history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, ethics, and more—to

Stimulate reflection
Create knowledge
Resolve problems
Inspire delight.

We provide and support public programs that

Explore issues of enduring and contemporary concern
Encourage critical thinking
Examine civic issues
Deepen our understanding of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

Main Programs

  1. Montana Conversations
  2. Speakers in the Schools
  3. Community Conversations
  4. Grants
  5. Hometown Humanities
Service Areas



State of Montana

ruling year


Principal Officer since 2009


Dr. Ken Egan



humanities grants speakers youth programs

Notes from the Nonprofit

We believe in the humanities and their impact on our state. We believe in communities coming together, in critical thinking, and in reflection. We believe in continuing to learn outside the walls of schools, about our neighbors, our past, and our world. We believe in supporting our libraries, museums, and community centers. We believe that the humanities bring people together from all walks of life, that they connect us and are the common ground beneath us.

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Physical Address

311 Brantly

Missoula, 59812


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Humanities Organizations (A70)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Humanities Montana brings Montanans together to learn and reflect on the state's past, present, and future by each year awarding up to 60 grants to nonprofit groups all across Montana, providing 180 Montana Conversations programs in communities of all sizes, reaching 60 schools through Speakers in the Schools, organizing community conversations on pressing issues, and partnering with a single community for a full year through Hometown Humanities to assure our impact is lasting and sustainable.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Montana Conversations

Living history presentations, demonstrations of Native American crafts and cultures, history lectures, and current public affairs discussions are just a few of over 100 programs available to not-for-profit groups across the state.


Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served


Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- Other Specified Group



Program 2

Speakers in the Schools

Montana Conversations presenters tailor these humanities programs to high school audiences.


Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)



Program 3

Community Conversations

Trained facilitators work with groups wanting to reexamine their values and choices through discussion of short, thought-provoking readings.


Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served


Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)



Program 4


Humanities Montana awards grants to organizations on a competitive proposal basis. Proposals are assessed based on humanities content and participation by humanities scholars in planning and/or execution of projects. We are committed to serving the needs of Montana and its people and so particularly encourage programs that:
stimulate statewide dialogue on topics of concern including cultural change and developments causing social stress;
promote dialogue between humanities scholars and the public;
foster discussion among the state's diverse cultures and across its geographical distances;
strengthen cooperative relationships among Montana communities and their cultural organizations—museums, libraries, schools, colleges and universities, and tribal organizations;
deepen deliberative dialogue and civic discourse among all the citizens of our state.


Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served


Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)



Program 5

Hometown Humanities

Hometown Humanities creates a year-long partnership between Humanities Montana and a Montana community with a population below 20,000 to assure intensive and ongoing humanities programming in that region, both in the year of partnership and in subsequent years.


Arts, Culture & Humanities

Population(s) Served


Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    By providing programs and grants on history, literature, Native American Studies, current affairs, and more all across the state, Humanities Montana will build communities, nurture families, and sustain Montana's vital cultural institutions.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    1. Demonstrate the importance of humanities in everyday life
    Humanities Montana has the unique mission of infusing Montana communities with public humanities programs of high quality. These programs show the value of humanistic studies such as literature, history, Native American Studies, philosophy, and more. They encourage Montanans to learn and reflect together.
    a) Build Speakers Bureau and Speakers in the Schools into elite programs by focusing on high-quality programs with diverse topics and diversified funding base.
    b) Determine viability and appeal of Montana Center for the Book programs, Letters About Literature and Montana Authors Project.
    c) Discontinue sponsorship of Montana Festival of the Book.
    d) Continue to improve evaluation of programs to enable Humanities Montana to demonstrate value to constituents, funders, and government agencies.
    e) Expand Humanities Montana's resource base by increasing funding through private, foundation, and governmental support and building partnerships with humanities and other organizations.
    f) Add staff strategically to assure Humanities Montana can deliver high-quality programs and provide staff assistance to nonprofit organizations and individuals throughout the state.
    g) Review number of board members and the ideal make-up of members to determine optimal board for advancing the organization's goals.
    h) Strategically shape board committees and advisory groups to diversify and expand sources of funding and other resources to build a strong base of operations.

    2. Bring Montanans together to promote community vitality
    As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a 45-year commitment to public affairs programs, Humanities Montana is uniquely positioned to promote community vitality through hosting and funding civil and civic gatherings.
    a) Build Hometown Humanities into a signature program by dedicating more resources, including funds and staff time, and planning for ongoing engagement with each host community after the Hometown Humanities year has ended.
    b) Rebrand and expand funding for Reflect: Community Readings and Conversations to assure widest possible use.
    c) Offer reading and discussion programs of high quality on an occasional basis, such as "Muslim Journeys" and “Standing Together Montana," a veterans' initiative.
    d) Promote Opportunity Grants as an accessible means to support home-grown initiatives.

    3. Montana Matters!: Exploring where we have been, where we are, and where we are going
    Humanities Montana is ideally situated to encourage Montanans to share and learn more about their past, present, and future. In addition to the programs listed above, we can provide direct support through grants and special offerings—as well as staff guidance—for a wide range of initiatives exploring our state's story.
    a) Organize occasional special events.
    b) Simplify grant review calendar to enable equitable distribution of funds.
    c) Continue Opportunity, Regular, 3-Year Sustaining, and Film grants.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    We have a superb staff and dedicated, talented board. We are especially committed to understanding and meeting the needs of Montanans where they live. Toward that goal we are in constant performance improvement mode, as well as adapting our program offerings to current interests and concerns.

    Our program team--Kim Anderson and Sarah Kahn--are experienced, savvy, responsive program developers and advocates. Kim has worked with Humanities Montana since 2000, first organizing the Montana Festival Book, then assuming a leadership role as Director of Programs and Grants. She excels at grant counseling and program development, such as Hometown Humanities.

    Sarah Kahn brings experience building her own cultural nonprofit to Humanities Montana's programming efforts. She excels at understanding interests among millennials, as well as cutting-edge issues such as immigration and economic challenges.

    Jason Neal serves as Humanities Montana's digital communications specialist. He brings experience as both a management consultant and gifted creative writer to the task. His web and marketing designs are inventive, fresh, and easily navigated.

    Ken Egan, executive director, provides overall leadership to Humanities Montana. He manages the day-to-day operations, works extensively with the board of directors, maintains close working relationships with regional and national partners, and leads the ever-more effective fundraising efforts.

    Humanities Montana's board of directors includes 18 top-flight volunteers from diverse backgrounds and regions. The board brings an array of gifts for strategic thinking, legal analysis, nonprofit experience, legislative know-how, academic expertise, and more.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    We measure our success against the goals stated in our strategies above.

    More than that, we constantly assess success through evaluations of all programs and grants. We have a rich set of data through evaluations provided by program sponsors, humanities presenters, program attendees, board and staff members who attend our funded events, and detailed grant final reports.

    We will also use that essential measure: Are we able to provide ever more humanities opportunities for all Montanans? In other words, can we steadily increase the number of programs and grants awarded and increase audience numbers and participation? We have shown steady growth for the past five years and anticipate extending that trend line.

    We pay close attention to what our partners and constituents share with us through surveys and more informal conversations. As part of our quality improvement efforts, we conduct constituent surveys every two-three years, then board and staff carefully review those results and consider changes to our strategies.

    Finally, most difficult to gauge but so critical: Are we changing the cultures of Montana for the better? Are Montanans communicating with each other in more civil ways? Are difficult but vital ideas circulating in more communities? Are citizens applying more critical thinking to these ideas? In short, do more Montanans learn and reflect together in meaningful ways?

  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    We have completed many of the concrete goals set forth in our strategies. For example, Hometown Humanities is truly a signature program for us and in fact received a national award in 2015!

    Our grants are more accessible than in the past, with a user-friendly Opportunity Grant (our lowest level of funding) serving as a gateway to more complex projects. We are especially gratified to see more applications from smaller communities.

    We have increased outreach to Montana's indigenous communities and will launch an American Indian Initiative in the next year that will make funding available for more projects in Indian Country.

    Citizens commend us for encouraging more civil conversations about difficult issues for Montana communities. If anything, we would like to do more of these.

    Still, as the funding needs indicate, we could do so much more with more funding. We could increase the number of Montana Conversations and Speakers in the Schools programs, and we could offer many more grants that enable Montanans to develop their own compelling programs.

    We must continue to expand our base of funding through increased private and foundation giving.
Service Areas



State of Montana

Social Media

Funding Needs

Every year Humanities Montana has far more demand for its programs and grants than it can provide. The top three funding needs are: 1. Montana Conversations: While Humanities Montana currently dedicates $60,000 in direct costs to this very popular program, we could provide at least $20,000 more in presentations each year, enabling us to serve ever more Montana communities. 2. Speakers in the Schools: The demand for this program has only grown over time. While we dedicate $40,000 in direct costs at this time, we could provide $20,000 more each year. This program has such an impact on young minds, encouraging critical thinking, historical perspective, and civil discussion. 3. Grants: While Humanities Montana provides $150,000 in grant support for Montana nonprofits to create their own humanities programs, we could award at least $50,000 more, based on demand and the number of high-quality applications we receive. Grants are especially powerful for smaller communities that build programs of immediate relevance to their citizens.

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Fiscal year: Nov 01-Oct 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




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Principal Officer

Dr. Ken Egan


Ken Egan has served as the executive director of Humanities Montana since 2009. He earned his B.A. in English at the University of Montana, his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught English at Middlebury College, Rocky Mountain College, and Drury University. He served as divisional and department chair at Rocky and Drury and sat on the board of Humanities Montana (then Montana Committee for the Humanities) from 1989 to 1992. Egan is a member of the Leadership Montana Class of 2013. His books include Montana 1889, Montana 1864, Hope and Dread in Montana Literature, and Writers Under the Rims: A Yellowstone County Anthology.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"Montana is a small town with long streets.  Humanities Montana brings citizens together for deliberation and celebration through grants, programs, and online discussion forums.  We are also committed to connecting kids to community and supporting museums, libraries, and schools."



Dr. Tobin Miller Shearer

University of Montana

Term: Jan 2017 - Dec 2017


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Race & Ethnicity
Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity
Diversity notes from the nonprofit
The board has created a member matrix that values diversity in all its forms. When staff positions become available, we seek every opportunity to diversify the staff.