About the Grantee Spotlight
Our “Grantee Spotlight” is a monthly feature where Illinois Humanities highlights the work of Community Grants program partners. It consists of a brief description of the organization, the project that Illinois Humanities is funding, and a representative of the group’s responses to prompts. View the list of grantee organizations in the Spotlight below.
*Received an Envisioning Justice grant.
In the Spotlight
Jacoby Arts Center - January 2022
Founded in 2004, the Jacoby Arts Center is committed to nurturing and promoting the practice and appreciation of the arts through education, exhibits, cultural programs, and community outreach initiatives.
Lawndale Pop-Up Spot - November 2021
Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) - October 2021
Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) is Chicago’s premier film festival for the Black LGBTQ community. BAFF’s mission is to promote social equity awareness and education in all aspects of life for the Black LGBT+ community through the use of media and the creative arts.
Heather Canuel* - October 2021
Heather Canuel is a carceral justice activist whose work is linked to and fueled by her experiences with incarceration. An organizer for the Women’s Justice Institute, Heather provides hairstyling services to currently and formerly incarcerated people alongside her own work in the arts and humanities. In this Illinois Humanities Spotlight, Heather shares her vision of a just future and how emotional expression through the arts and humanities can serve as a form of therapy for children of incarcerated parents.
History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff - September 2021
The History Center’s mission connects people and inspires curiosity by exhibiting, preserving, sharing and celebrating history. The History Center showcases the history of community development, including socioeconomic change, ethnographic and demographic drift, and suburbanization. Both the museum and the archives are free, with extensive use by people locally, regionally, and nationally. Their broad online collection provides rich access to thousands of items to the public.
MAKE Literary Productions - August 2021
Asif Wilson* - July 2021
Educator and activist Asif Wilson is leading an Illinois Humanities-funded project through an Envisioning Justice grant exploring the experiences of formerly incarcerated college students currently enrolled in a Chicago community college through Participatory Action (PAR) research. Some 10-15 students will research a topic related to education and incarceration and lead events to share their findings and recommendations.
The Chicago Poetry Center - June 2021
The Chicago Poetry Center is creating a free, digital curriculum for teachers across Illinois to use in their classrooms. It harnesses the Poetry Center’s extensive online archive, a dynamic, interactive repository of diverse poetic voices, and provides teachers with carefully built lesson plans that meet middle and high school Illinois learning standards. All three educators featured here (Beth, Timothy, and Yadeale) were co-writers of the curriculum.
Peoria Riverfront Museum - May 2021
The Peoria Riverfront Museum (PRM), which opened on October 20, 2012, is the largest private museum in downstate Illinois, and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1973. The mission of the Peoria Riverfront Museum is “To inspire lifelong learning for ALL: connecting art, history, science and achievement through collections, exhibitions and programs.”
Illinois Prison Project - April 2021
Founded in 2019, the Illinois Prison Project (IPP) works for a more sensible and humane prison system in Illinois by advocating for and on behalf of thousands of people who are needlessly incarcerated.
About Face Theater - February 2021
Founded in 1995 with the belief that LGBTQ+ lives could provide the lens through which universal human experiences were explored, About Face Theatre (AFT) exists to create exceptional, innovative, and adventurous theatre and educational programming that advances the national dialogue on sexual and gender identity, and challenges and entertains audiences in Chicago and beyond.
Farwell House - January 2021
Farwell House, founded in 2016, is an arts organization that hosts exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events, as well as artist residencies. It is located in a house built in 1867 by an agricultural merchant in Frederick, an unincorporated community of fewer than 200 residents near the Illinois River in western Illinois’s Schuyler County.
Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19) - November 2020
About Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19)
The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19) exists to commemorate the worst incident of racial violence in the city’s history. Formally launched on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 riot, we believe that now is the moment for Chicago to confront its bloodiest chapter and heal the wounds that time alone has not.
Guild Literary Complex - Chicago - October 2020
About Guild Literary Complex
Founded in 1989, Guild Literary Complex (the Guild) is a grassroots literary arts organization creating performance-based events in and around Chicago. It partners and collaborates with other community groups on social and restorative justice issues, providing arts and advocacy programming for marginalized voices. Guild programs offer opportunities for a range of voices throughout Chicago to be heard, engaging people from all neighborhoods and all backgrounds.
League of Women Voters Naperville - Naperville - October 2020
About League of Women Voters Naperville
Founded in 1956, the League of Women Voters Naperville (the League) encourages informed and active participation in local government through education and advocacy. It is one of more than 800 state and local leagues under the umbrella of the National League, which dates back to 1920.
Brushwood Center - Chicago - September 2020
About Brushwood Center
Founded in 1984, Brushwood Center promotes the importance of nature for nurturing personal and community wellbeing, cultivating creativity, and inspiring learning. It is designated an Illinois Nature Preserve and is located in 565 acres of woodlands in the heart of Lake County. Brushwood offers programming in the arts, humanities, and wellbeing for people of all income levels, ages, and backgrounds.
Restore Justice - Chicago - September 2020
About Restore Justice
Founded in 2015 by criminal justice reform advocates, those formerly incarcerated, and others, Restore Justice believes every human being deserves dignity, including those who have committed serious crimes. Restore Justice works toward a day when the criminal legal system in Illinois treats every case as an opportunity to heal individuals and communities. We advocate for fairness, humanity, and compassion throughout the system, with a primary focus on those affected by extreme sentences imposed in their youth.
Fifth House Ensemble - Chicago - August 2020
About Fifth House Ensemble
Founded in 2005, Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) taps the collaborative spirit of chamber music to create engaging performances and interactive educational programs, forging meaningful partnerships with unexpected venues, artists of other disciplines, educational institutions, and audiences of every type.
Chicago Latino Theater Alliance - Chicago - August 2020
About Chicago Latino Theater Alliance
Founded in 2016 through a new collaboration between the National Museum of Mexican Art, the International Latino Cultural Center, and the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, CLATA aims to produce the country’s leading Latino theater festival (“Destinos”), to provide organizational and financial support for Chicago’s Latino theater groups, and to build a permanent home for Chicago’s Latino theater companies to thrive and grow.
Junior Docent Camp - Murphysboro - July 2020
About Junior Docent Camp
The General John A. Logan Museum plans to hold a week-long day camp in July for students entering eighth through twelfth grades who are interested in becoming junior docents at the museum. It will include opportunities to learn about site interpretation, historical and archaeological research, artisanal skills such as spinning and weaving, and nineteenth-century games. The camp is intended to develop a pool of young volunteers who can conduct activities at the museum. It also aims to teach them knowledge and skills that they can apply in other contexts within the community and beyond.
Teamwork Englewood - Chicago - July 2020
About Teamwork Englewood
Teamwork Englewood is the fiscal agent for the Folded Map project. Founded in 2003, Teamwork Englewood seeks to unite the many organizations serving Englewood residents and work toward the common goal of building a stronger community.
Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) - Chicago - June 2020
About Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT)
The Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) was founded in 2005 with the notion that a great theater city needs a great children’s theater. Nearly 15 years later, it has produced 20 world premieres, mostly from award-winning literary works. CCT has received six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017 became the first theater for young audiences in the U.S. to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards. CCT also continues to grow its education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for children up to age 13.
Bronzeville / Black Chicagoan Historical Society (BHS) - Chicago - May 2020
About Bronzeville / Black Chicagoan Historical Society (BHS)
Founded in 1999, the Bronzeville / Black Chicagoan Historical Society (BHS) was started by a small group of enthusiastic family history researchers. BHS began due to an overwhelming concern for the diminishing historical sites in African American communities and continues to raise public awareness about endangered and unmarked historic sites in Bronzeville. The BHS archives include family documents, oral histories, memorabilia, quilts, objects, film, and photographs. BHS has recorded more than 20 oral histories about the Great Migration from community elders.
OSF HealthCare - Peoria - April 2020
About OSF HealthCare
Founded in 1877, OSF HealthCare’s Mission is “to serve persons with the greatest care and love in a community that celebrates the gift of life.” OSF provides equal access for all individuals.
Coles County Arts Council (CCAC) - Charleston - March 2020
About Coles County Arts Council (CCAC)
Founded in 1984, the Coles County Arts Council is dedicated to fostering, promoting and developing the arts and the historical and cultural heritage of Coles County. CCAC is largely volunteer run, hosts its own events, and helps local groups hold workshops, exhibitions and performances to make art and history come alive in the community. This was CCAC’s fourth grant from Illinois Humanities.
American Indian Center (AIC) - Chicago - March 2020
About American Indian Center (AIC)
Founded in 1953, the American Indian Center (AIC) was established to provide a gathering space with culture-based programs for Native American families displaced by the Federal Relocation Program of the 1950s. The AIC’s mission is “To promote fellowship among Indian people of all Tribes living in metropolitan Chicago and to create bonds of understanding and communication between Indians and non-Indians in this city. To advance the general welfare of Indian people, to sustain cultural, artistic, and avocational pursuits, and to perpetuate Indian cultural values.” The AIC has received seven grants from Illinois Humanities.
For more information on our Community Grants program, visit ilhumanities.org/grants.