2020 Envisioning Justice Grants Program

Background:

In 2017, Illinois Humanities launched “Envisioning Justice” to amplify the voices of people most adversely affected by mass incarceration by centering the voices and perspectives of system-impacted people and communities in a citywide conversation on criminal legal issues through arts and humanities programming. The underlying assumption behind Envisioning Justice is that the arts, humanities, and civic dialogue in concert play a pivotal role in helping us re-examine issues, policies, and practices in fresh ways, while also enabling us to create strategies and pathways to a just and equitable society.

To date, this ambitious initiative has included multiyear partnerships with seven Chicago community-based groups to provide arts and humanities programming that responds to mass incarceration and imagines possibilities beyond it, commissioned artwork, and a grants program. Illinois Humanities presented a culminating citywide exhibition in August 2019 that attracted nearly 12,000 visitors. In 2020, Illinois Humanities is expanding Envisioning Justice throughout Illinois.

Program Description:

Over the next three years (2020-2022), Illinois Humanities will commission local artists and humanists to create new work that responds to and grapples with mass incarceration in impacted communities and will develop an interactive digital tool that people throughout the state can use to spark conversation, exploration, and action within their own communities.

Grantmaking is a critical component of Envisioning Justice. Through the Envisioning Justice grants program, Illinois Humanities plans to partner with groups throughout the state to use the arts and humanities to spark statewide conversations about the impact of mass incarceration as well as to envision a truly just society.

The three grant categories support work happening at the local, grassroots level in the arts, humanities, and related areas, as well as by policy and other groups that harness the arts and humanities to explore fresh ideas. We look forward to seeing proposals from organizations of any size.

Additionally, Illinois Humanities will commission eight (8) Illinois artists and twelve (12) Illinois humanists to make new work that: sparks dialogue about the impacts of mass incarceration on Illinois communities; portrays or otherwise renders visions of a world without prisons; is driven by a particular focus on the experiences and points of view of system-impacted individuals and communities; aims to shift the narrative around mass incarceration by connecting the arts and humanities with public policy; or aids in network-building and partnerships amongst groups and individuals working to envision and actualize a truly just society.

If you are interested in learning more about the grants categories, the type of work that will be funded, and completing an application, please visit envisioningjustice.org/envisioning-justice-grants2020 or reach out to Tyreece Williams, Project Manager, Envisioning Justice, at  tyreece.williams@ilhumanities.org.

Please sign-up for the Envisioning Justice Digest and the Illinois Humanities newsletter to get the latest updates about Envisioning Justice and our other programs and grant opportunities.

Envisioning Justice Artist Commissions

Deadline: December 16th at 5PM (Central Time)  

Amount: $6,000

The Envisioning Justice Artist Commissions will support Illinois artists in creating new work that responds to the impacts of mass incarceration and helps envision and devise strategies for a truly just society; and to commission an “instructional prompt” based off of this new work for an Envisioning Justice Activation Kit that will promote reflection, conversation, and action from viewers and participants. Examples of commissioned projects might include film/video, photography, writing, music, or interactive media. Commissioned work will primarily be shared in a digital format and should be able to be fully realized in this way. Additionally, portions of work should be shareable in print format (ie: stills from film), as Illinois Humanities will create a printed version of the Envisioning Justice Activation Kit.

Envisioning Justice Humanist Commissions

Deadline: December 16 at 5PM (Central Time)

Amount: $6,000

The Envisioning Justice Humanist Commissions will support Illinois humanists in generating projects, programs, or work that respond to the impacts of mass incarceration and helps envision and devise strategies for a truly just society; and to commission an “instructional prompt” based off of the commissioned work for an Envisioning Justice Activation Kit that will promote reflection, conversation, and action from viewers and participants. Examples of commissioned work might include writing, lectures (recorded on video), documentaries, filmed conversations, oral histories, or other public humanities projects. Commissioned work will primarily be shared in a digital format and should be able to be fully realized in this way. Additionally, portions of work should be shareable in print format (ie: stills from film).

Envisioning Justice Place-Based Grants

Deadline: We are no longer accepting applications for the Envisioning Justice Place-Based grants.

Amount: $2,500 – $5,000 for non-profit organizations

The Envisioning Justice Place-Based Grants support the creation or expansion of projects in specific communities across Illinois that respond to the impacts of mass incarceration and work to envision a society that is restorative, healing, and just for all. The grants will only be awarded to organizations from or working with communities from the following areas: East St. Louis, Decatur, Carbondale, Galesburg, Urbana-Champaign, and the Bloomington-Normal Metro Area. If you are not located in or around one of these six areas, please apply for an Envisioning Justice Action Grant.

The Envisioning Justice Place-Based Grants support a) humanities- and arts-based projects involving currently or formerly incarcerated people, b) humanities-, arts- and cultural-based organizations working to increase interest, awareness, and concern around the current criminal legal system or to imagine a world without prisons, and/or c) legal, policy and support-services groups that serve the needs of those most impacted by the criminal legal system who want to engage with the arts and humanities to create change.

Envisioning Justice Dialogues

Deadline: We are no longer accepting applications for the Envisioning Justice Dialogue Micro Grants.

Amount: $500 for a single dialogue or $1000 for a series of two dialogues for non-profit organizations

The Envisioning Justice Dialogues Grants support community dialogues on mass incarceration in specific communities across Illinois. These grants will only be awarded to organizations from or working with communities from the following areas: East St. Louis, Decatur, Carbondale, Galesburg, Urbana-Champaign, and the Bloomington-Normal Metro Area.

Examples of Envisioning Justice Dialogues include a local library hosting neighborhood residents coming together to discuss the effects of cash bail on low-income communities, or a local social-service agency hosting a discussion about “reentry programming” and the experiences of returning citizens.

Envisioning Justice Action Grants

Deadline: We are no longer accepting applications for the Envisioning Justice Action Grants 

Amount: Up to $15,000 for non-profit organizations and up to $5,000 for individuals

The Envisioning Justice Action Grants will support the creation or expansion of projects across Illinois that respond to the impacts of mass incarceration and work to envision a society that is restorative, healing, and just for all. These grants specifically support: a) humanists and artists working to increase interest, awareness, and concern regarding the current system and/or working to envision a truly just society; b) legal, policy and support-services groups that serve the needs of those most impacted by the criminal legal system and who want to engage with the arts and humanities to create change; and c) coalition-building at the citywide, regional, or statewide levels among the above groups. Examples of eligible coalition building and/or network projects include those focused on a) using the arts and humanities to respond to the impacts of mass incarceration or to imagine a more just world, b) making the arts and humanities available to those currently or formerly incarcerated, or c) working to shift the narratives around mass incarceration. Projects can involve convening a number of organizations, hosting a conference or symposium, inviting speakers.

Frequently Asked Questions