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California Documentary Project Grants

Left to right: No Mas Bebes, Romeo is Bleeding, The Force and Ovarian Psycos

Current and Prospective Grantees, please note:

In light of the ongoing federal government shutdown, until we receive the next installation of funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the grants we award, we are taking the following steps:

  • We are suspending all grant payments, effective January 16, 2019 – either for new grants, interim or final payments.
  • We will continue to accept applications for our open grant lines with upcoming deadlines, including CDP NEXT GEN (March 15). However, we may need to delay the award of funds until the NEH is open again.
  • We will continue with the review of any recently submitted applications that have not yet been awarded, including those submitted for the California Documentary Project November 1, 2018 deadline. However, we may be required to delay the awarding of funds until the NEH is open again.
  • We will resume payments as soon as the government reopens, the federal budget is approved, and the NEH recommences payments to the state humanities councils. At this point, we are unsure how long this process will take.

Steps you may consider taking at this time:

  • If the delay in funding delays your programming, we are willing to renegotiate grant periods. Please contact your program officer to discuss this option.
  • Please check back at this page soon, which we will update as the situation develops.

The California Documentary Project (CDP) is a competitive grant program that supports the research and development and production stages of film, audio, and digital media projects that seek to document California in all its complexity. Projects should use the humanities to provide context, depth and perspective and reach and engage broad audiences through multiple means, including but not limited to radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, online distribution and interactive media, community screenings and discussions, in classrooms and libraries, at cultural centers, film festivals, and beyond. Funding is available in three categories:

  • CDP NEXT GEN Grants up to $15,000 
  • Research and Development Grants up to $10,000 
  • Production Grants up to $50,000 

Since 2003, California Humanities has awarded over $5 million to projects that document California and its cultures, peoples, and histories, and that together help us better understand who we are and where we live. Recently supported projects include the podcasts and radio series California Foodways, The Stoop and The Intersection; interactive and transmedia documentaries such as K-TOWN ‘92 and The Mojave Project; and documentary films such as REAL BOY, The Return, Forever, Chinatown, No Más Bebés? , The Last Day of Freedom, Romeo is Bleeding, Ovarian Psycos, Tribal Justice, Dogtown Redemption and many more.

CDP Research and Development Grants

CDP Research and Development grants are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions in their earliest stages. Projects must actively involve at least three humanities advisors to help frame and contextualize subject matter throughout the research and development phase. Eligible applicants may apply for funding up to $10,000.

The application deadline for 2018 has passed. The next application deadline for 2019 will be posted shortly.

2018 CDP R&D Guidelines

Watch Grant Application Webinar

CDP Production Grants

CDP Production grants are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions and help propel projects toward completion. Projects must be in the production stage, have a work-in-progress to submit, and actively involve at least two humanities advisors to help frame and contextualize subject matter throughout the production process. Eligible applicants may apply for funding up to $50,000. 

The application deadline for 2018 has passed. The next application deadline for 2019 is Nov 1, 2019.

2018 CDP Production Guidelines

Watch Grant Application Webinar

For more information, contact Senior Program Officer, John Lightfoot.

CDP NEXT GEN Grants

CDP NEXT GEN grants are designed for youth media organizations in support of emerging California mediamakers age 18 and under. Presented in alignment with CA 2020: Youth Perspective and the Future of California, our new statewide initiative that focuses on the lives and experiences of young Californians, CDP NEXT GEN invites applications from California-based nonprofit organizations and public agencies with established track records in youth media programming to provide training and support to emerging mediamakers in the creation of short, insightful nonfiction films and/or podcasts that tell original stories about life in California today.

CDP NEXT GEN intends to support short documentary films or podcasts that shed light on not only the problems we face, but also on the solutions that youth are proposing and the futures they envision. Eligible applicants may apply for funding up to $15,000. The application deadline for 2018 has passed. The next deadline for 2019 will be posted shortly. 

CDP NEXT GEN Guidelines

Watch the CDP Next Gen Application Webinar