OVERVIEW

In 2017, Illinois Humanities launched Envisioning Justice in Chicago to amplify the voices of people most adversely affected by mass incarceration 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.

Grantmaking continues to be a critical component of Envisioning Justice. Through the Envisioning Justice grants program, Illinois Humanities partners with groups throughout the state to use the arts and humanities to spark statewide conversations about the impact of mass incarceration and envision community-based networks of care and accountability.

Event attendees painting as a group
Image from Carbondale Public Library event funded through the 2020 Envisioning Justice grants program.

Over the past two years, Illinois Humanities issued nearly $400,000 in grants for justice-focused arts and humanities-based projects happening across the state of Illinois with communities both inside and outside of carceral facilities.

If you are interested in learning more about the current grant opportunities below, the type of work that will be funded, feedback on proposal ideas, or would like support in completing an application, reach out to Tyreece Williams, Program 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.

Apply for New RE:ACTION Micro-grants

Envisioning Justice Reaction banner

Background:

Illinois Humanities has launched a new participatory platform entitled  Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION.  The site features a virtual exhibition and “activation kit” designed to spark conversation, reflection, and action around the movement to end mass incarceration. Works exhibited include 14 commissioned projects created by Illinois artists and humanists to envision and devise strategies for a more just future. Projects were completed in 2021 and include such subjects as recidivism, extralegal torture, wrongful convictions, and reentry. The attendant “activation kit” includes prompts (sets of instructions) created by the artists and humanists in order to draw users into closer proximity to the themes and questions in the exhibition. Users can follow the instructions in a given prompt, complete an action, and then share it back to the RE:ACTION platform, helping to broaden our collective vision and imagination around a truly just future. If you haven’t visited the Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION site, we invite you to do so at envisioningjustice.org!

If you’re looking for ways to engage your own community with the works and prompts on the Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION, we hope you’ll consider applying for a RE:ACTION micro-grant. This new one-time Illinois Humanities micro-grants program is meant to encourage ongoing engagement with Envisioning Justice: RE:ACTION and the powerful content within. These micro-grants are available to individuals and organizations within the state of Illinois interested in engaging groups in responding to prompts presented in the Envisioning Justice: RE:ACTION activation kit.  The expectation is for chosen grantee partners to gather a group of at least six people to respond to one of the prompts and to upload the requested “response” or documentation to the site. We hope these micro-grants will enable hyper-local arts and humanities-based activity across Illinois to bring forth the experiences, knowledge, and creativity of Illinoisans that are needed to actualize visions of justice and are representative of the needs of our communities.

Learn how to apply for a RE:ACTION micro-grant below!

RE:ACTION MICRO-GRANTS TO INDIVIDUALS

These micro-grants are meant for individuals who would like to gather a group of six or more individuals to complete and respond to one or more prompts on the Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION site. Individuals should have an idea of the prompt(s) they’d like to explore as well as the group or audience they’d like to gather. Priority will be given to individuals with experience facilitating group workshops and with a history of working on justice-related issues — especially through the lens of the arts and humanities.

Deadline: Friday, May 20, 2022, at 5 p.m. Central. We plan to notify applicants of funding decisions by Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Amount: $1,000 per micro-grant

Example: You’ve decided you want to gather people to respond to “Small Illuminations”, a poem by Tara Betts featured in the Unbarred Poetics installation in the virtual exhibition. Once you’ve worked out your logistics and acquired the necessary materials, gather at least 6 people, in person or virtually. Have them engage with the poem before or during your gathering. Then, lead them through the directions outlined in the “Small Illuminations” prompt. Facilitate a group discussion where participants can hear each other’s reflections. Ask each participant to upload their “prompt responses” to the Activation Kit, or — with the consent of your participants — document the experience and upload the final poems to the Activation Kit yourself.

RE:ACTION MICRO-GRANTS TO ORGANIZATIONS

These microgrants are meant for organizations that would like to facilitate group activities based on the prompts in Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION. Organizations should have an idea of the prompt they’d like to use as well as the group they’d like to gather.  Priority will be given to organizations with experience facilitating group workshops and with a history of working on justice-related issues — especially through the lens of the arts and humanities.

Deadline: Friday, May 20, 2022, at 5 p.m. Central. We plan to notify applicants of funding decisions by Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Amount: $1,000 per micro-grant

Example: You’ve decided you want to lead a prompt workshop utilizing Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, & Reparations by Aaron Hughes and Amber Ginsburg. Once you’ve worked out your logistics and purchased the necessary materials, gather 9 people, in person or virtually.  As the prompt instructs you, prepare some tea and serve it to your participants, if in person. Play an episode of the Remaking the Exceptional podcast or have your participants listen before your event. At your event, facilitate a group discussion around justice and other themes within the podcast. Upload the documentation and group responses to the prompt outlined in the prompt to the Activation Kit.

RE:ACTION MICRO-GRANTS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS