IH Newsletter

Enews August 2022

Caption: A word cloud created from Illinois Humanities’ mission statements.

August 16, 2022

I dropped my daughter off at college this weekend. My hopes for her are ambitious. I want her to learn to see the familiar in new ways; to make friends who expand her horizons and sense of self. I want her experience in college to equip her to critique the status quo and enable her to leave school energized to help build a more just world.

These wishes feel counter-cultural. Our media, regardless of platform, relentlessly describes mistrust and dissatisfaction. We can literally see disenfranchisement and disinvestment growing as inequities increase. Disappointment in national institutions is prevalent regardless of which — or even whether — we hold a political party affiliation. And when so many of us are being “othered” and dehumanized by people we haven’t even met, it can be very, very hard to be open to a conversation with someone we don’t already know.

But this is why I’m hopeful. The locus of the most powerful of transformations — our individual selves — is within our reach. We can decide who we meet with, who we share a meal with, the questions we ask, and the curiosity we bring. These are simple but also powerful actions. These engagements shape how we see ourselves and whether we can see ourselves in others — or others in us. This belief girds my ambitions for my daughter.

Caption: Pictured L-R: Illinois Humanities Director of Statewide Programs Fairouz AbuGhazaleh; The group dining at The 50’s Diner in Peoria; Illinois Humanities Program Manager of Statewide Engagement Matt Meacham; Preston Jackson’s sculpture of comedian and Peoria native Richard Pryor.

For those of us not off to college, we find ways to foster these activities in daily life. It can happen when we spontaneously strike up a conversation about fishing, sports, or a new recipe. But we cannot counter the prevailing forces driving us apart by serendipity alone. We need to design them intentionally. And there’s no better tool than the public humanities.

I’ve come through the summer more convinced of this than ever. In July, ourteam convened at the Peoria Riverfront Museum to plan the 2023 Museum on Main Street exhibition tour of SPARK! Places of Innovation. The seven host organizations — Gallatin County Tourism Committee, Imagine Hillsboro, Community Connection of Central Illinois, The HUB Art Center, Durand Charm, the Havana Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Marshall Public Library — are crafting conversations and programs that will bring people together to see both the exhibit and Illinois rural communities in new ways.

It’s what our new Foreground Rural Initiative is all about; it’s why we’re working to increase our grantmaking and community-building efforts. It’s why we’re honored to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau program this year. It’s why we’re working harder to report on ourimpact. And it’s why we’re SO EXCITED to lift up the voices of young poets throughout Illinois at our 6th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards this Saturday.

The public humanities in Illinois build places and spaces for us to come together as individuals for a collective experience. At their best, these moments can help us see more clearly what is and what we can change about ourselves and the society we share. Thank you for being part of the community that makes the humanities happen.


Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director


Illinois Humanities Unveils 2022 COVID-19 Snapshot —

We are proud to share with you our 2022 COVID-19 Snapshot, On Wisdom and Vision: Humanities Organizations in Illinois During COVID-19. This snapshot looks at the challenges public humanities organizations in Illinois have faced throughout the pandemic, and how Illinois Humanities’ Relief and Recovery Grants were able to positively support arts and humanities organizations throughout the state.

Read more.


Celebrate Young Illinois Poets at the 6th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards —

Illinois Humanities, in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, Brooks Permissions, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards, an annual competition for Illinois poets in grades K–12. The 26 winners and 12 honorable mentions were chosen from a record 445 submissions representing 70 schools from across the state.

The winning poets will be celebrated on Saturday, August 20 at 1:00 p.m. CST at a public, in-person ceremony at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago. The ceremony will be hosted by Emily Lansana, and award winners will recite their poems as part of the ceremony. This year, Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson will read a poem at the ceremony in honor of the winning students.

Learn more.


Envisioning Justice Grant Applications Now Open —

Illinois Humanities’ Envisioning Justice program is offering grants to individuals and groups throughout the state who use the arts and humanities to encourage conversations about the impact of mass incarceration. To continue strengthening partnerships developed through Envisioning Justice programming, organizations from the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply: East St. Louis, Decatur, Carbondale, Galesburg, Urbana-Champaign, and the Bloomington-Normal Metro Area. However, grants will not be limited to these communities. Envisioning Justice seek applicants who uplift community-based approaches to collective care, public safety, and accountability. The application deadline is Wednesday, September 21, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. CST.

Learn more and apply now.


Apply for General Operating Grants Now Through September 15 —

Illinois Humanities is now permanently offering General Operating Grants as part of our Community Grants Initiative. The first cycle deadline is September 15, 5:00 p.m. CST. These $5,000 unrestricted grants are available to non-profit humanities organizations in Illinois that have an operating budget of $500,000 or less.

Learn more & apply now.


Last Chance: Apply Now to Become a 2023-24 Illinois Road Scholar —

Illinois Road Scholars now celebrates its 25th Anniversary! Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. We are now accepting applications from speakers with public speaking or teaching experience who bring expertise and passion to their chosen subject matter to join the 2023-2024 roster. Applications are due by August 31, 11:59 p.m. CST.

Learn more & apply now.



Disability Awareness Month and Accessibility Stipend Opportunities —

Last month was Disability Awareness Month, and we wish to celebrate thecountless leaders who are within and work with the disability community to ensure arts and humanities experiences are accessible for all. Illinois Humanities offers grant opportunities for accessibility stipends to support event accessibility, including ASL Interpretation, CART captioning, and other resources, such as providing transportation to and from events for those who need it. We commend our grantee partners whose work challenges the notions of who can create and enjoy the humanities, including MindsEye Radio, Fun4TheDisabled and its parent nonprofit Strategy For Access, and Full Spectrum Features and their series, “Access Reframed.”

Learn more



Now Hiring: Apply to Be Illinois Humanities’ Grants Programs Manager —

lllinois Humanities is hiring a new Grants Programs Manager! This position interacts with a broad and diverse set of stakeholders and a robust community of grantee partners from more than 200 statewide organizations. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who is interested in being part of a dynamic organization and excited about developing best practices in equity, diversity, and inclusion-informed philanthropy.

Learn more & apply now



Upcoming Events —

Road Scholars: Oh Freedom! Songs of the Civil Rights Movement
August 11, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CT
Normal Community Activity Center, 1110 Douglas St, Normal, IL 61761

NEW DEADLINE: Foreground Rural Initiative Grants
August 15, 5:00 p.m. CT

6th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards
August 20, 1:00 p.m. CT
Reva and David Logan Center For the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637

Road Scholars: Wild Boar to Baconfest: Pigs in History and Pop Culture
August 25, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT
Warren County History Museum, 238 S Sunny Ln, Monmouth, IL 61462

DEADLINE: Road Scholars Speakers Bureau 2023-2024 Roster
August 31, 5:00 p.m. CT

Road Scholars: This Land is Your Land: The Folksongs of Woody Guthrie
September 2, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT
Nichols Park Pavilion, 2 Hollkenbrink Dr, Jacksonville, IL 62650

Road Scholars: Casting a Historic Vote: Suffrage For Women in Illinois
September 3, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. CT
Nichols Park Pavilion, 2 Hollkenbrink Dr, Jacksonville, IL 62650

Road Scholars: Behind the Beautiful Dress: Making Cloth and Clothing in the19th Century
September 8, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. CT
Des Plaines History Center, 781 Pearson St, Des Plaines, IL 60016

Road Scholars: This Land is Your Land: The Folksongs of Woody Guthrie
September 10, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT
Hopkins Park, E Main St and N McCoy St, Granville, IL 61326

DEADLINE: General Operating Grants
September 15, 5:00 p.m. CT

Road Scholars: 1619: The Journey of a People, the Production
September 17, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Chatham Area Public Library, 600 E Spruce St, Chatham, IL 62629

Road Scholars: Casting a Historic Vote: Suffrage For Women in Illinois
September 18, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. CT
The Friends of the Mount Carroll District Library, 208 N Main St, Mount Carroll, IL 61053

DEADLINE: Envisioning Justice Grants
September 21, 5:00 p.m. CT



Help Support This Work – Donate Now!

This is a special time to give: all new donations will count towards the generous challenge grant made by the Art for Justice Fund, doubling the impact of your gift.

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Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration.

Learn more at ilhumanities.org

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