On November 12, Humanities Texas received a 2020 Schwartz Prize from the Federation of State Humanities Councils, presented during a virtual ceremony at this year's National Humanities Conference. The Federation, which awards the Schwartz Prize annually for outstanding work in the public humanities, created a special category this year for humanities programs developed or adapted as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic. Humanities Texas was recognized for the transition of our teacher professional development programs to an online format, which to date has included forty-three webinars and seven multi-day institutes.
Judges praised the program for its impressive reach and scope, including its sustainability. One judge noted that, "while working within the confines of the pandemic, Humanities Texas created a series of high-quality, virtual professional development programs for K-12 teachers that actually expanded the council’s reach. . . . In years to come, this model will help Humanities Texas expand its offerings, substantively improving K-12 humanistic education in Texas."
The Schwartz Prize is made possible through an endowment by founding Federation Board Member Martin Schwartz and his wife Helen and has been awarded since 1982. The Federation also awarded 2020 Schwartz Prizes to California Humanities for "Library Innovation Lab," Vermont Humanities for "Vermont Reads 2019: March: Book One," and Humanities Washington for "Cabin Fever Questions."
"This year's winners highlight the depth and breadth the humanities offer today and the ability of the humanities councils to adapt, innovate, connect, and continue to serve their communities through crises," said Phoebe Stein, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. "From reaching often underserved immigrant populations to engaging communities in conversations about anti-racism and supporting our K–12 teachers and community members when COVID-19 hit, these programs reflect the power of the humanities in everyday American life."