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Special Project Grant will support the nationwide development of The Meaning of Service reading and discussion program for AmeriCorps volunteers.

CHICAGO – The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) a $350,000 three-year grant for the nationwide development of the IHC’s The Meaning of Service program. This reading and discussion program for youth service workers explores fundamental questions about the meaning of public service by examining diverse philosophical, historical and literary texts. A trained facilitator leads discussions that provide volunteers the opportunity to examine, refine, and regenerate the beliefs underlying their work.

The IHC is currently running The Meaning of Service at eight AmeriCorps sites in Illinois: City Year, PCC Wellness, Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, Notre Dame Mission, Project Yes, and Asian Human Services in Chicago, as well as Belleville AmeriCorps in Belleville and the Illinois Public Health Association in Springfield. In addition to running Chicago area and downstate sites in Illinois, the IHC will provide funds to seven other state humanities councils to run reading and discussion groups in their communities. Three national training workshops and yearly state workshops for coordinators and facilitators will also be funded. Humanities councils scheduled to participate in the national MoS  are:

  • Illinois
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Wyoming

The Meaning of Service was founded in 2003 as a pilot program in Chicago. In 2005, the IHC received a three-year NEH grant to expand the program in Illinois and to twelve other states. Using lessons learned from the previous national expansion, the goal of the current national MoS program is to help make reading and reflection a key feature of the service experience in the eight states involved.

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ Special Project Grants support planning, consultation, and implementation of programs at diverse venues for public or non-academic groups, such as senior citizens, youth, members of civic organizations, professional groups, history and heritage tourists, hobbyists, and local citizens.

More details about The Meaning of Service can be found online at For more information on the Illinois Humanities Council and its programs, please visit, call 312.422.5580, or email

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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