GARDNER -- Mount Wachusett Community College has received a $500,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the institution's humanities initiative.

According to the NEH website, the grant will be used for "humanities programming and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities to engage MWCC students and the public in the discussion of enduring themes and ideas from the world's rich cultural and intellectual traditions."

"Federal support from entities like the National Endowment for the Humanities is playing a critical role in the preservation and promotion of our national identity and civic engagement in America," U.S. Rep Niki Tsongas said in a prepared statement Thursday. "Like many of the other great academic institutions here in the Third District, Mount Wachusett isn't just teaching students but is preparing them to play an active role in the national conversation."

"We are extremely excited with this opportunity to enhance our ability to serve students and the community by instilling an appreciation for the humanities and civic engagement within our curriculum," said MWCC President Dan Asquino. "We are looking forward to raising the required match which will endow this initiative into the future."

The award MWCC received was part of $33 million in grants NEH awarded this month to 173 widely varying humanities projects, ranging from the publication of the complete papers of the first Federal Congress from 1789 to 1791 to the archaeological excavation and analysis of Bronze Age settlements around the Marmara Lake Basin in Anatolia, Turkey.

NEH grants are highly competitive and are awarded to recipients representing the highest level of humanities research and public engagement.