Application Guidelines

We want anyone and everyone in Maine who wants to have the opportunity to join in a rich, meaningful discussion with others about things that really matter to them.

Maine Humanities works closely with every Discussion Project host to support you in bringing your project to life in a way that meets your community’s needs. The MHC provides a facilitator, provides or covers costs for materials, and offers other support as needed.

We are especially keen to support projects proposed by people and organizations serving those who are most deeply isolated from each other and the wider community, and those whose work has public impact.

Program Priorities and Criteria

  • People and organizations serving those who are most deeply isolated from each other and the wider community.
  • People and organizations whose work has public impact.
  • Organizations serving and led by members of communities traditionally under-resourced in the humanities are encouraged to apply. These groups include people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people who live in rural areas, people with disabilities, people who identify as immigrants or refugees, and people whose first (or only) language is not English. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

Common Questions

Who can apply?

Any individual or organization in Maine who wants to hold a series of text-based discussions with their community can apply.

We see applications from people from all sorts of backgrounds, and in all kinds of settings. Groups can be open to the general public, or not. Many groups are intended to gather people with particular shared experience—like veterans or folks who live or work at a particular place or people who work in a particular field. Who do you want to gather?

When should I apply?

We accept applications for the Discussion Project on a rolling basis. You should aim to apply 8 weeks before you plan to hold the first meeting with your group. If you don’t have a clear timeline in mind but you have a clear idea of the group you hope to gather, apply as soon you feel ready to start bringing your idea into reality.

We review applications every two weeks, and notify applicants of our decisions as soon as possible after review.

What should we read?

You name it! There are so many amazing texts that can be read in Discussion Projects—stories long and short, poems, essays, illustrated books, and more. Most groups find it helpful to include at least some fiction (whether a novel or some short stories).

If you’re looking for suggestions, we have a handful of Featured Reads every year. These books are a great starting place for discussing any number of themes that we focus on across our work.

Our Featured Reads are also used in other Maine Humanities programs and events like Readers Retreat and Read ME, so they offer folks in your Discussion Project additional opportunities for participation and connection.

What’s a Discussion Project look like?

Each Discussion Project is unique—created by and for a particular group, in a particular place and time, and unfolding through the interaction of the particular people who meet and talk at each session.

At the same time, all of our Discussion Projects are built on the same basic framework—a group of people gather and discuss a text they have all encountered—and share the same broad goal of making room for the people who participate to develop a sense of connection, agency, and engagement. Most groups have between 6 and 30 participants, and meet between 3 and 6 times for about an hour and a half each time.

Who facilitates the discussion?

Our aim is ensure that every Discussion Project has a skilled facilitator who is able to support the group they work with as they engage with and talk about things that are meaningful to them by engaging closely with texts.

MHC assigns an MHC-trained facilitator to each Discussion Project we award.

Or, when the person hosting a group feels it important that someone from outside our network of facilitators serve as facilitator for their group, we offer an orientation to the Discussion Project and support for the project’s duration.

What if all I need for my group is the books?

If you have a discussion group ready to go – you already have a group of people gathered and you are or are working with a skilled facilitator – but you need the books, you can apply for a Discussion Project: Books Only.


We want anyone and everyone in Maine to have the opportunity to join in a rich, meaningful discussion with others about things that really matter to them. Who will you gather?