The Black Trowel Collective was formed in 2016 by a group of archaeologists following a workshop on anarchism within archaeology. See more, including a manifesto, on their Blog page.

The Black Trowel Collective Microgrants are granted by a collective of archaeologists (from PhD students to faculty members) committed to the active support of archaeology students from working-class and historically looted communities who are both regularly excluded by traditional scholarship and academic programs, or who require more economic support than those resources cover. They have been inspired by Sportula, which is an initiative supporting Classics students.

The Black Trowel collective recognizes that academia in its current form is ethnicity, class, and gender-biased and discourages or even effectively forbids minorities and people from working classes from attending programs by enforcing prohibitively high tuition fees, expensive mandatory field schools and ignoring the often harsh reality of these students’ lives outside of the academic bubble. All too often, the members of the collective and their students have to work double shifts to get the extra money needed to buy a book, attend an excavation project, pay rent or internet bills to have access to online university materials from home, or even just buy a proper meal so that they do not have to attend the next class on an empty stomach! It is their goal to erode these barriers to make them more permeable for the next generation of archaeologists.

To this end, they provide microgrants from $5 to $300 (or £ or €) to archaeology graduate and undergraduate students who need it. They can also work to find larger amounts of money and/or connect the interested students with mentorship for non-monetary needs (e.g. if someone needs an archaeologist from his/her racial/ethnic group or class background to talk something over with, or if someone has an issue impacting his/her academic career that he/she doesn’t feel comfortable letting their department know about, or even if someone needs access to a certain journal/manuscript, etc).

How to get a microgrant

Simply apply through the application form and the Black Trowel Collective will do their best to get the requested amount to you as soon as possible. You don’t have to explain yourself. The Black Trowel Collective rejects the all too common pattern in academia (and everywhere) that demands historically underrepresented and working-class people “prove” their worthiness in a system that ignores structural inconsistencies in students’ backgrounds or expose/perform their need and trauma for some committee in order to get the money that we require.

The Black Trowel Collective’s goal is to start their relationship with their grantees through trust, instead of with an assumption that they are lying (i.e. through proving need). Minority and working-class students are already forced to navigate these types of distrustful relationships with their institutions while their financially comfortable peers are not.

Who can apply?

Any archaeology student (graduate or undergraduate) who needs it! Students of color and students without parental/family support or who lack access to other forms of financial aid by virtue of being undocumented etc. to the front!

For further information click on

or contact the Black Trowel Collective by email at [email protected]