The American Research Center in Sofia, Bulgaria, (ARCS) has been awarded a $750,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to set up an endowment in support of the center's humanities staff and library.

The research center was founded in 2004 by Kevin Clinton and Nora Dimitrova of Cornell's classics department. The grant will bolster ARCS's role in facilitating research in Bulgaria and other Balkan states.

The challenge for the center is to raise $2,225,000 to receive the full NEH match, at a ratio of $1 from the NEH for every $3 in non-federal funds. The grant "will allow ARCS, a new American Overseas Research Center, to establish an endowment that will serve to sustain the center for the long term," Clinton said in an e-mail from Sofia.

ARCS was established as a consortium of North American higher education institutions (now numbering more than 70) to provide North American scholars with a base in Bulgaria for academic research in the humanities and social sciences. It is dedicated to promoting collaboration between scholars from North America and former Communist countries in southeastern Europe.

Fields of study include anthropology, archaeology, art history, epigraphy, economics, history, languages and linguistics, music, philology and sociology, from prehistory through the modern age. All current projects and activities are in the humanities and include history, art history, archaeology, epigraphy, language and ethnomusicology.

The center offers fellows, resident members and research teams logistical support in dealing with an array of problems that they encounter as they plan and carry out their research in Bulgaria -- including permits for access to research material and institutions. Scholars can access the resources of Bulgarian institutions and establish collaboration with interested colleagues from the region and elsewhere through the network established by the center.

ARCS also offers lectures and seminars by local and visiting scholars, conferences, educational trips, cultural events and academic training programs for students including fellowships and language training. The center is engaged in a major collaborative effort with the America for Bulgaria Foundation in supporting joint Bulgarian-American excavations and other archaeological projects and preserving archaeological sites in Bulgaria.

NEH Challenge Grants are peer-reviewed by leading scholars and administrators in the humanities and are extremely competitive.

For more information about ARCS and to make donations to match the Challenge Grant, contact Clinton at or visit