Overview

Map of Illinois with red circles representing the location of grantee partners who received a 2021 Illinois Humanities Emergency Relief and Recovery Grant

At a time when the impacts of COVID-19 continue to devastate communities across the state, Illinois Humanities is awarding its largest grant pool in the organization’s history for pandemic relief and recovery: $1.4 million to 254 organizations in 72 counties.

This round of grants – which combines funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities received through the American Rescue Plan Act with private donations – builds on lessons learned during 2020 funding relief efforts detailed in this report, On Wisdom and Vision: The State of the Humanities During COVID-19.

These 2021 awards support public humanities organizations in communities whose residents have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and which are often by-passed by traditional funding streams due to their size, organizational capacity, or geographic location.

Learn More about the 2021 Grantee Partners

  • Fact Sheet: Click here for a fact sheet about the 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grantees
  • Interactive Map: Click here to visit an interactive map of the Grantee Partners
  • Printable Map: Click here for a printable map of the Grantee Partners
  • Grantee Partners: Click here for a complete list of 2021 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grantees

2021 Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants – General Operating

General operating (or unrestricted) grants were awarded to 210 humanities organizations, with budgets of less than $2 million, across the state. Emphasis was given to grant applicants facing systemic barriers to traditional funding streams due to their size or geographic location. These organizations – cultural and ethnic centers, literature and literacy organizations, history organizations, humanities museums, community media, libraries and archives, and consortiums and collectives of all the above – play a critical role in sustaining their communities. These organizations help strengthen community fabric by producing oral histories, curating local archives, creating virtual historic walking tours, producing documentary films, designing digital curricula, and much more.

General Operating grants were awarded in tiers, based on the budgets of applying organizations. Organizations with budgets of $300,000 or less received $5,000 (174 grantees are in this category); organizations with budgets of $300,001 to $750,000 received $7,500 (19 grantees are in this category); and organizations with budgets of $750,001 to $2,000,000 received $10,000 (17 grantees are in this category). General Operating support equals 84% of the the overall $1.4 million in grants awarded.

To see a complete list of the General Operating grants, click here.

a group of young artists of varied ages with masks on standing in front of a colorful mural
The mural Home, by artist Sentrock, with collaborating artists from Yollocalli Arts Reach. Photo by Mercedes Zapata, courtesy Chicago Public Art Group in partnership with D-CASE.

2021 Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants – Humanities Projects

Humanities Project grants were awarded to 44 non-profit organizations. These grants were open to a broader array of Illinois nonprofits, not exclusively those that fall within the categories of humanities organizations (above), to support non-profit organizations proposing humanities-based projects that will aid in community recovery and resilience.

At $5,000 per project, the 44 grants totaled $220,000, or 14% of the overall $1.4 million in grants awarded.

To see a complete list of the Humanities Project grants, click here.

adults sitting on a stone blocks in front of the library under yellow umbrellas reading books
“The Next Chapter” Adult Book Club reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Photo courtesy Fox River Grove Memorial Library

Community and Capacity Building Support

In addition to grantmaking, as part of the 2021 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants program, Illinois Humanities is offering a series of capacity building workshops as well as networking opportunities open to all the eligible organizations who applied for COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery grants. This series of workshops and networking opportunities will begin in November 2021 and run through October 2022. To learn more, please contact mark.hallett@ilhumanities.org.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below is a list of frequently asked questions designed to assist in your understanding of our 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Relief & Recovery Grants guidelines, eligibility, and award process.

If you have further questions, reach out to Mark Hallett, Director of Grants Programs, at mark.hallett@ilhumanities.org.