2022 snapshot of the “On Wisdom and Vision” COVID-19 report now available!

Welcome to the landing page for On Wisdom and Vision: Humanities Organizations in Illinois During Covid-19.

As 2020 drew to a close Illinois Humanities undertook an extensive project to better understand what the impact of COVID-19 has been on 177 grantee partners who received COVID-19 Emergency Relief grant funds.

On this page:

Effingham-At the Crossroads of Education-by Tytia Habing for Illinois Humanities-2020
Above: Effingham: At the Crossroads of Education by Tytia Habing for Effingham Public Library, 2020

You can watch a recording of the March 10th launch event, which featured remarks from Adam Wolfson, Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker, a presentation on report findings from Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon, and a panel discussion amongst grantees Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, African American Museum of Southern Illinois,  Sue Scott, Director, Western Illinois Museum, and Peter Vega, Executive Director, Chicago Cultural Alliance. This discussion was moderated by Illinois Humanities Board member, Jai Winston who also serves as Director St. Paul, the Knight Foundation.

Executive Summary

Analysis of Illinois Humanities’ COVID-19 relief grant-making provides a snapshot of the impacts of COVID-19 and a window onto the ways in which organizations are mitigating the effects of the pandemic within their communities and across the state.

Illinois Humanities is working to understand and learn from the intensive experience of this past year. The recommendations that follow are rooted in the reported experiences of grantee partners, research about the role of public humanities organizations in fostering social cohesion, well-being and community resilience, and analysis of grantee partners’ geographic, demographic, and pandemic contexts.

Above: EXHAUSTED, beaded illustration by Acacia Rodriguez, featured in the short film Identified (dir. Lorena Diaz & Wendy Mateo, 2020)


Report Details

The On Wisdom and Vision: Humanities Organizations in Illinois during COVID-19 report tells about 177 humanities organizations from across the state that have kept their doors open through the pandemic and supported their communities through a time of isolation, political upheaval, racial injustice, and economic uncertainty.

This Report looks at the community of organizations supported by $710,000 Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants funded by the federal CARES Act and explores – through data and interviews – the ways in which organizations found ways to keep their doors “open,” despite extensive financial and audience loss. In the midst of the pandemic, they conducted work on racial inequity, provided powerful programs and essential support in struggling communities, and demonstrated their resilience.

Screenshot of Interact COVID-19 Map of Illinois Humanities Emergency Relief Grants