Press Release

A Community Tour of PIPELINE, Convening Arts Educators Around Trauma-Informed Practice, and Celebrating 100 Years of the 19th Amendment Among Statewide Projects Selected for Illinois Humanities Funding

December 18, 2019, Chicago—The Illinois Humanities board of directors announced today it has approved funding for 10 Community Grants projects totaling $41,037, supporting organizations that help bolster local cultural organizations and networks, and make lifelong learning and civic engagement accessible to audiences across the state.

“Illinois Humanities is proud to support not-for-profit organizations that promote the importance of the humanities in private and public life,” said Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon, PhD. “These champions of the humanities make their communities and our whole state more vibrant.”

The Community Grants program guidelines include three areas of activity: Vision grants, for planning and evaluation; Action grants for projects meant to grow audience, experiment with interactive programming, and try out new digital tools; and, Multiplier grants for ambitious statewide or regional partnerships. The next Community Grants deadline is January 15th, 2020. Grants are awarded three times a year, and Illinois Humanities has given out $17 million in grants since the program’s inception.

Of the 10 projects approved, five are either located outside of Chicago or are statewide initiatives. The grants include:

The grant to the Westside Justice Center (WJC) will support programming in their gallery space. The WJC, founded in 2015 by a group of attorneys, community leaders, and legal advocates, aims to empower community members to demand accountability and access to systems of justice. The space that the WJC uses as a gallery is seen as furthering the group’s larger mission – in particular its efforts at community outreach and education. The grant specifically allows playwright and organizer Kristiana Rae Colón to program regular events in the gallery space, such as pop-up events that build upon programming at the #LetUsBreathe space in Back of the Yards.

“My purpose is to create portals for transformation, and this new season at the Movement & Justice Gallery gives us the opportunity to do that on the west side,” says Colón. “The first exhibition of 2020, Paradise Now: Alternate Realities as Resistance, will harness the radical imagination of our visual and performance arts communities to activate the Westside Justice Center in a new way, opening space for our people to dream and create,” she added.

The Illinois Humanities grant to the Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) is for CCT to produce collaborative discussions among cultural groups as well as with the general public on how to deliver high-quality support services for families experiencing trauma and its residual effects. CCT reaches thousands of young people experiencing trauma.

“With help from Illinois Humanities, we will engage the public, mental health experts, the Chicago theatre community and the arts education sector at-large to advance this important work,” says CCT Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell. “We would also like to thank Lurie’s Center for Childhood Resilience, the community partner that began this journey with us into trauma-informed arts education during our recent world premiere, ‘The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963.’”

Russell added: “We cannot wait to take this next step, mobilizing the theatre arts to create positive change in our community.”

The League of Women Voters of Naperville (LWVN), which was founded in 1956 and is one of more than 800 state and local leagues, encourages informed and active participation in local government through education and advocacy. The Illinois Humanities grant to LWVN is for “100 Years Strong: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Film Series & Discussion,” which aims to raise awareness about the fight for the women’s vote, encourage civic engagement and voting, and commemorate history. The four-part film and discussion series will take place from February through May 2020, and will include: the history of women’s suffrage, including African American abolitionists/suffragist women, and ending with how racism and white supremacy continue to affect voting and democracy today.

“Now, more than ever is the time to defend our democracy,’ says LWVN Board President Becky Simon. “The Illinois Humanities grant will allow us to educate a new generation of voters to remind them that the right to vote was hard-won and can be easily lost.”

The Action grant for OSF Healthcare is atypical for Illinois Humanities because of the system’s size. OSF, after all, has nearly 21,000 employees at 114 locations throughout the state. Its mission, however, is to serve people with the greatest care and love. Illinois Humanities support will further the work of an interprofessional group of humanities enthusiasts who discuss humanities programming, education and interventions monthly. “OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria is excited to partner with Illinois Humanities on this grant that elevates the role of the humanities, ethics, and art in improving well-being for our patients and clinicians,” said Bob Anderson, OSF Saint Francis President.

“Even as our reliance on technology to cure disease and illness grows, so too grows our need for creative ways to honor the personal encounter that lies at the heart of health care,” Anderson said. “OSF Saint Francis is especially grateful for the support and awareness this grant will bring to those who come to us for care and those who provide that care.”

About Illinois Humanities: For more than 45 years, Illinois Humanities has been committed to expanding access to the humanities for all Illinoisans. Illinois Humanities works to strengthen the social, political, and economic fabric of Illinois through constructive conversation and community engagement. Using the humanities as tools to stimulate civic engagement and discussion, Illinois Humanities creates experiences across Illinois through programming, exhibitions, education, and grantmaking to engage a diverse public on ideas and issues that matter.

For more information on the grants program, visit or contact Mark Hallett at