Press Release

Nearly $40K in Community Grants Announced

An exhibit on African-American soldiers in the Civil War, a literary exchange with Mexico, and a virtual exhibit on Ray Bradbury among projects funded

CHICAGO, August 24, 2020 – Illinois Humanities announced today it will award 8 grants totaling $38,200 to support public humanities projects across the state.

“Especially in this moment of continued duress, Illinois Humanities is proud to support not-for-profit organizations that promote the importance of the humanities in private and public life and that inspire collective action and hope,” 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 September 15th, 2020. Grants are awarded three times a year, and Illinois Humanities has given out $17 million in grants since its inception. See here for more details.

With Community Grants support, the Lawrence County Historical Society is going to carry out “An Eagle on his Button: The story of the African-American Civil War soldiers from Lawrence County, Illinois.” Founded in 1961, the Historical Society is located in South East Illinois, and serves a predominantly rural county. In the past, it has hosted a Museum on Main Street exhibition, received a Forgotten Illinois grant, and earlier this year was awarded a COVID-19 emergency relief grant.

The LCHS will produce a multimedia presentation and curriculum focusing on the 35 local African-American residents who served in the Union Army. This will include their involvement in the Battle of the Crater, but also the painful, sometimes terrifying instances of racism they experienced locally.

“Better understanding of racial tensions in our past hopefully leads to better understanding of today’s racial issues,’ said John M. King of the LCHS. “Our project highlights the Free Black community of Lawrence County before 1865. Many local Black soldiers enlisted and fought in the Civil War to make conditions better both at home and throughout our nation. The Lawrence County Historical Society of Lawrenceville is extremely proud to tell this story of hope, with funding from Illinois Humanities.”

Another grantee is MAKE Literary Productions, which produces a literary magazine as well as the annual Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature and Art. Lit & Luz is an ambitious cultural exchange between writers and visual artists from Mexico and Chicago. This year’s theme is “Remix: Respond & Rebuild.”

“This grant will allow the Lit & Luz Festival to create virtual programs with the guidance of expert digital strategists and operators and incorporate better resources for simultaneous translation and closed captioning,” said Sarah Dodson, MAKE’s executive director. “A major component of Lit & Luz is the fostering of community—both within the international artistic exchange and the audiences who look forward to multidisciplinary programming which centers contemporary Latinx literature, art, and ideas. Though we can’t be together physically, it is critical that we continue to connect with each other through open dialogue, performance, and presentation.”

This is the third time that Illinois Humanities has supported the work of MAKE Literary Productions.

Of the 8 projects, four are located in the city of Chicago and four are located in or feature activity elsewhere.

About Face Theatre Collective for SHINDIG, a ruckus for queer black lives ($8,000) Chicago, Ill.

American Writers Museum for Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable Virtual Exhibit ($4,000) – Chicago, Ill.

Fourth Wall Films for An Infantryman From Hero Street, an historical documentary film ($4,100) Moline, Ill.

Lawrence County Historical Society for An Eagle on His Button: The story of the African American Civil War soldiers from Lawrence County, Ill. ($4,000) – Lawrenceville, Ill

MAKE Literary Productions NFP for Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature and Art ($4,100)

Peoria Riverfront Museum for Bronzeville to Harlem: An American Story ($4,000) – Peoria, Ill.

Still Point Theatre Collective for Reflect/Measure/Evolve: Development of a sustainable evaluation tool ($2,000) Chicago, Ill.

StoryCorps for StoryCorps Partnerships in Robbins, Ill., and Alton, Ill. ($8,000) Brooklyn, NY


About Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.