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California Documentary Project Grants

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

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:

  • Research and Development Grants up to $10,000 
  • Production Grants up to $50,000 
  • CDP NextGen Grants up to $15,000
Grant Program Application Opens Application Deadline Grant Period
CDP R&D September 1, 2021 November 1, 2021 April 1, 2022-March 31, 2024
CDP Production September 1, 2021 November 1, 2021 April 1, 2022-March 31, 2025
CDP NextGen January 15, 2022 March 1, 2022 April 15, 2022-April 14, 2023

Since 2003, California Humanities has awarded almost $6.5 million through the CDP grant program to nonfiction film, audio, and interactive media projects that document California in all its complexity. Projects supported through CDP include documentary films CRIP CAMP, UNITED SKATES, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN, THE ASIAN AMERICANS, WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN, ADIOS AMOR – THE SEARCH FOR MARIA MORENO, the podcasts THE STOOP and CALIFORNIA FOODWAYS; and transmedia documentaries K-TOWN ‘92 and THE MOJAVE PROJECT, and many more.

See a list of recently supported CDP projects

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 two 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.

Deadline November 1, 2021, 5pm PT

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. 

Deadline November 1, 2021, 5pm PT

For more information, contact Senior Program Officer, John Lightfoot at jlightfoot@calhum.org.

CDP NextGen Grants

CDP NextGen grants are designed for youth media organizations in support of emerging California media makers 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 NextGen 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 media makers in the creation of short, insightful nonfiction films and/or podcasts that tell original stories about life in California today.

CDP NextGen 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.

See a list of recently supported CDP NextGen projects

Deadline March 1, 2022. Information from the previous round is provided below for reference. 

Grantees, please find information on managing your grant and logos in the Grant Portal