Michigan Humanities Awards

At Michigan Humanities, we view the humanities as ideas, words, and activities that help us understand our lives and our world. Through stories, histories, cultures, and conversations, they introduce us to people, places, and ideas. Connecting with people through the humanities gives us a window into how others approach living. Examining diverse heritages, traditions, and histories can point the way to mutual understanding and encourage empathy.

Our annual Michigan Humanities Awards recognize and celebrate one organization and two individuals who are champions of public humanities. Awards are given in the following categories:

Erik Jones Reading Champion Award

The Erik Jones Reading Champion Award is a collaboration between Michigan Humanities and the Erik Jones Foundation. This award recognizes an individual who has significantly supported the development of literacy and passion for reading in Michigan. The recipient of this award receives a $2,500 honorarium.

Humanities Champion of the Year

Humanities Champion of the Year—Individual recognizes the person whose contributions resulted in outstanding public humanities impact in their community and in our state. Examples are teachers, scholars, librarians, historians, or volunteers who have creatively and successfully brought humanities to the public forum.

Outstanding Humanities Organization

Outstanding Humanities Organization recognizes organizations that have made a lasting contribution to the enjoyment of public and accessible humanities programming in Michigan. They may have brought to life a book, humanities project, historical project, discussion, or other humanities programs, serving their community and our state. The awarded partner should have carefully considered gaps and necessities in their communities and to have had an impact in these identified areas through their humanities work.


Nominee Criteria

  • Significant contribution to supporting Michigan communities through humanities      work.
  • Exemplary outreach and advocacy making the humanities available and accessible to the people of Michigan.
  • Actively promote understanding and vitality of the humanities through their work, volunteerism, or leadership across Michigan.

The public is welcome to nominate a person or organization of their choice every year, January 15 through March 1. Award recipients are announced in mid-May and are selected by a panel of volunteers who are humanities professionals. Recipients of the Humanities Champion of the Year and Outstanding Humanities Organization awards receive $2,500 to use towards a celebration in their community or a project supporting their work. The recipient of the Erik Jones Reading Champion Award receives a $2,500 honorarium.

Have questions about eligibility? Please reach out to info@mihumanities.org.


2024 Award Recipients

Cathrine Trautman, Erik Jones Reading Champion Award
Seth Thomas Sutton, Humanities Champion of the Year
Historical Society of Michigan, Outstanding Humanities Organization

Past Award Recipients


Michigan Library Association, Outstanding Humanities Organization
Tim Paré, Humanities Champion of the Year
Center for Arab American Studies at University of Michigan-Dearborn, Community Impact Partner of the Year


Old Settlers Reunion Website, Outstanding Humanities Organization
Kimberly Simmons, Humanities Champion of the Year
NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore at Hope College, Community Impact Partner of the Year


The Diatribe, Community Impact Partner of the Year
Communities First, Inc., Community Impact Partner of the Year
Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, Outstanding Humanities Organization
Dr. Thomas Henthorn, Humanities Champion of the Year


The Willis Patterson ‘Our Own Thing’ Chorale, Outstanding Humanities Supporter
M.L. Liebler, Outstanding Humanities Supporter—Individual
Peter Middleton and Greg Dykhouse, Black River Schools, Humanities Champion of the Year


Charles Ferrell/Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Humanities Champion of the Year
Eric Hemenway, Humanities Champion of the Year
Wild Swan Theater, Community Impact Partner of the Year
Meijer, Corporate Humanities Champion of the Year


If you have questions, please contact info@mihumanities.org.