Program Overview

2021 Envisioning Justice Grants are now open! 

Envisioning Justice leverages the arts and humanities to envision alternatives to the enduring injustice of mass incarceration. This Illinois Humanities initiative works with communities and people impacted by mass incarceration to spark conversation and illuminate community-based strategies that address our racist and unjust criminal legal system.

From 2017 to 2019, Envisioning Justice was concentrated in Chicago. Moving forward, Illinois Humanities is expanding this initiative and its attendant activities throughout the state.  As a part of this next phase of Envisioning Justice, we will host and document community conversations, provide grant opportunities, and commission projects by artists and humanists working to shift the narrative around incarceration and system impacted communities.

Illinois Humanities acknowledges that people and communities affected by the criminal legal system are driving this movement for change, and we are committed to supporting their efforts to bring public awareness to issues of systemic racism and injustice inherent in mass incarceration through arts and humanities programming. We also seek to strengthen the networks, organizations, and resources they need to continue making a difference.

For more information, please contact us at You can also receive bi-weekly updates by signing up for our Envisioning Justice digest.

Statewide Grants

Grantmaking is 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 as well as envision community- based solutions.

Illinois Humanities currently accepting applications for our 2021 cycle of Envisioning Justice grants! Individuals, organizations, and partnering organizations across Illinois are encouraged to apply.

You can learn about our grants program and apply here.

Public Programming

Illinois Humanities will continue to develop public programming that includes our ongoing Rapid Response Series, film screenings, and other activities that can be used to advance the conversation and bring people together to collectively imagine alternatives.

The Envisioning Justice Rapid Response Series was created by Illinois Humanities to share short, original videos featuring perspectives and reflections from humanists, artists, and community organizers working in system-impacted communities during this complex time.

You can watch past Rapid Response programs on the Illinois Humanities YouTube channel. You should also check out the Rapid Response: RE-VISION Companion Guide to dive deeper into the videos created for RE-VISION, a post-election edition of the Envisioning Justice Rapid Response Series.

Artist & Humanist Commissions

The Envisioning Justice Artist & Humanist Commissions will support Illinois artists and humanists in creating new work that responds to the impacts of mass incarceration and helps envision and devise strategies for a truly just society.

Commissioned artists and humanists will also create “instructional prompts” based on this new work for an Envisioning Justice Activation Kit that will promote reflection, conversation, and action from viewers and participants.

Learn more about the commissioned projects here.

Visions of Justice Video Series

In partnership with VAM Studios, Illinois Humanities will release eight compelling “Visions of Justice” videos: one from each of the seven priority communities throughout the state (including Chicago), and one that is a compilation of them all.  Those priority communities include East St. Louis, Decatur, Carbondale, Pontiac, Galesburg, Urbana-Champaign, and the Bloomington-Normal Metro Area. These videos, facilitated by our Envisioning Justice Fellow, feature interviews with and perspectives from system-impacted individuals and those working toward a more just society in each community.

For more information, please contact the Envisioning Justice Fellow, Meredith Nnoka, at 

Envisioning Justice Digest

The Envisioning Justice Digest is a bi-weekly newsletter that features events, updates, resources, and relevant media within the movement of addressing and ending mass incarceration. If you’d like to sign up for the digest, you can do so here.