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NC Humanities Wins National Excellence Award

NC Humanities Receives National Excellence Award for North Carolina Reads (2023)

North Carolina Humanities has received a prestigious Schwartz Prize for its North Carolina Reads statewide book club program. The award annually recognizes outstanding work in the humanities.

North Carolina Humanities (NC Humanities) was presented its 2023 Schwartz Prize at the National Humanities Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 27 by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The award to NC Humanities was uniquely given in memory of Marilyn Hatza, the former Director of Grants and Community Engagement at Maryland Humanities. Marilyn’s son and husband presented the award to NC Humanities after a moving musical performance of two of her favorite songs played by her husband. NC Humanities thanks the Hatza family and the Federation of State Humanities Councils for this honor.

Other Schwartz Prize winners this year included the Alaska Humanities Forum for its Ilakucaraq Program and Rhode Island Humanities for its 2022 Civic Health Index.

Federation of State Humanities Councils Board Chair, Paxton Williams, Presenting the 2023 Schwartz Prize

North Carolina Reads is a free, statewide book club that annually features five books that explore issues of racial, social, and gender equity and the history and culture of North Carolina. NC Humanities hosts monthly virtual book club events from February through June where participants hear directly from book authors and topic experts. Libraries, community groups, and individuals across North Carolina read along with NC Humanities and are encouraged to take what they learn back to their community to host their own book discussions.

Launched in 2022 with support from a special initiative grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), North Carolina Reads has quickly become North Carolina’s premier statewide book club.

North Carolina Reads selections 2022-2023

At the heart of North Carolina Reads is NC Humanities’ desire to connect communities through shared reading experiences. Everyone is welcome at North Carolina Reads events. Participants do not need to have read the books to attend discussions or have received a book box.

Since 2022, NC Humanities has distributed over 9,500 free North Carolina Reads books and reading resources around the state. To expand accessibility in underserved communities across North Carolina, NC Humanities offers a limited number of North Carolina Reads book boxes to readers that include a selection of the five book titles, unique swag, bookmarks, and curated program and discussion guides. North Carolina Reads is unique because readers keep their books from the book box after the series is complete as a way to further literacy and conversations about North Carolina stories.

Now in its third year, North Carolina Reads has already brought twenty-three professional, award-winning authors and topic experts to public audiences with many of the books being written by authors who are from, lived in, or currently reside in North Carolina. All previous North Carolina Reads book club discussions were recorded and are available on YouTube. Program and discussion guides are also available for free download at

North Carolina Reads 2024 Graphic featuring book covers
North Carolina Reads 2024 Begins in February 2024

In 2024, North Carolina Reads will feature: Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick, Poster Girls by Meredith Ritchie, American Refuge: True Stories of the Refugee Experience by Diya Abdo, The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, and Welcome to the Circus of Baseball by Ryan McGee.

Interested in joining this statewide movement of readers? North Carolina-based readers can still request a 2024 North Carolina Reads book box as an individual or as a group. NC Humanities encourages readers to also check with their local library or independent bookstore for books. North Carolina Reads 2024 event registration details will be released starting in early 2024 at Please sign up for NC Humanities’ e-newsletter to stay updated on all event announcements at

NC Humanities wishes to acknowledge the authors and topic experts who have participated in North Carolina Reads. Without their expertise, North Carolina Reads would not be as robust and insightful as it is.

NC Humanities also thanks the NEH for their initial and ongoing investments, as well as the Library of Congress Center for the Book and the State Library of North Carolina, for their long-term partnership.

There are many other organizations and individuals to thank for their involvement, including NC Humanities’ board of trustees, many of whom have served as moderators for North Carolina Reads events and have supported the program strongly from its inception.

About North Carolina Humanities: Through grantmaking and public humanities programs, North Carolina Humanities connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community. North Carolina Humanities is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The North Carolina Center for the Book, the state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library Congress, is a program of North Carolina Humanities that promotes books, libraries, literacy, and reading around the state. To learn more, visit

About the Schwartz Prize: Since 1982, the Federation of State Humanities Councils has awarded the Schwartz Prize to up to three councils for outstanding work in the public humanities each year. The prize was established by founding Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife, Helen. The Schwartz Prize judges are selected from humanities partners, former board members, and council board and staff of the prior year’s winners. For more information, visit

Press Contact: Melanie Moore Richeson,, (704) 687-1520

Photo and Video Credit: Federation of State Humanities Councils

Photo Caption: (1) North Carolina Humanities staff and incoming Board Chair, Mike Wakeford, presented the 2023 Schwartz Prize by the Hatza family and Federation of State Humanities Councils Board Chair, Paxton Williams.