The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced $27 million in challenge grants to 130 cultural and educational institutions.

The grants include the largest single sum that the Catholic University of America here has ever received from the federal government - $638,000. All challenge grants must be tripled by funds from private sources within three years.

Eugene J. Kennedy, Catholic University vice president for development, says that most of his institution's grant will be used for renovation and expansion of the university's Mullen Library in order to better accommodate humanities holdings.

Other uses planned for the money generated by the Catholic University grant include support for the school's new humanities fellowships and professional chairs, the Humanities Center for Research and humanities book purchases.

The largest grant announced yesterday was $1.5 million for Stanford University. Stanford plans to use the money for eight new endowed chairs, library collections, the Center for Research in International Studies and renovation of the history corner on the campus.

The National Colonial Farm of the Accokeek Foundation received $45,000 in the only other grant awarded to a District of Columbia Institution.

These grants were made to Maryland institutions: $900,000 to Johns Hopkins University, $120,000 to the Maryland Academy of Sciences, $400,000 to St. John's College and $425,000 to the University of Maryland.

Virginia grants awarded were $150,000 to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, $45,000 to the Chrysler Museum at Norfolk, $100,000 to Ferrum College, $150,000 to the George C. Marshall Research Foundation, $100, to the Institute of Early American History and Culture, $165,000 to Randolph-Macon College, $165,000 to Randolph-Macon College and $125,000 to Roanoke College.