2021 Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants

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Illinois Humanities is committed to ensuring access to free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois. COVID-19 has put an unprecedented strain on nonprofit organizations in Illinois and on the people who make public humanities happen. With the support of funding from the NEH, through the American Rescue Plan Act, and the additional support of generous donors, Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants will provide over $1,000,000 in support to humanities and cultural organizations throughout Illinois. The deadline for both of these opportunities is Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM (CST).

In 2021, Illinois Humanities is offering two grant opportunities to help humanities organizations and cultural groups respond to the ongoing pandemic:

  1. General operating grants for organizations that are explicitly defined as humanities-based in terms of mission and core programming.
  2. Humanities project grants for organizations that plan to do humanities-based work but who may not be explicitly humanities-based organizations in mission and scope.

The main goals of the 2021 Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants are:

  1. To provide emergency relief support for humanities-based organizations throughout the state who are impacted by COVID-19.
  2. To help enable other nonprofit partners to provide humanities-based programs to help their communities recover and respond with resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. To help build the capacity of our grantee-partners through offering workshops that address their most pressing needs, networking opportunities within our sector, and a peer skill share program that compensates participants.

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

Attention

Please read the requirements for each funding category carefully before applying, as requirements have changed from 2020. In 2021, general operating grants are only for humanities-based nonprofit organizations, those organizations for whom work in the humanities is central to their mission and scope (please refer to the “What do you mean when you say a humanities organization?” section in the FAQs for explanations of these categories and examples of past grantees). All other organizations need to apply for humanities project grants.

If you are a humanities organization but do not fit into any of the categories we have outlined, please contact us, so that we can discuss your organization type and whether you will qualify for a general operating grant or should apply for a humanities project grant.

General Operating Support Grants

Illinois Humanities will provide emergency relief general operating support for humanities-based nonprofit organizations with budgets of up to $2 million. There are two funding pools: one designated for organizations based within Cook County and one designated for organizations based outside Cook County. These grants are specifically for humanities-based nonprofits, which includes cultural and ethnic organizations; history organizations; humanities museums; literature organizations; humanities education organizations; media, journalism, and documentary organizations; libraries and archives; and consortiums, alliances, and collectives of these groups. If your organization does not fit in one of the above-named categories, then please apply for a humanities project grant.

The deadline for applications is Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM (CST).

Guidelines

  • Grants will range from $5,000 to $10,000 (depending on organizational budget size). No matching funds are required.
  • Please use the location-specific application. Choose the location based on whether your organization is located within (or outside of) Cook County, regardless of where programming takes place. Illinois Humanities is committed to geographic diversity and equitably serving the entire state.
  • These grants are general operating, or unrestricted, in nature. This means that organizations can use the funds for organizational expenditures as leadership sees fit (as opposed to project-specific grants). However, since these are federal funds, there are restrictions on how organizations can use general operating support; for example, organizations cannot use these funds for alcohol, lobbying, or international travel. A full list of restrictions will be included in the grant award agreement.
  • Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by Wednesday, September 1, 2021.

Eligibility

  • These general operating, or unrestricted, grants are available to tax-exempt humanities-based organizations located in Illinois with an expressed and demonstrated commitment to the public humanities. This includes cultural and ethnic organizations; history organizations; humanities museums; literature organizations; humanities education organizations; media, journalism, and documentary organizations; libraries and archives; and consortiums, alliances, collectives of above-named groups. Please refer to the “What do you mean when you say a humanities organization?” section in the FAQs for explanations of these categories and examples of past grantees.
  • Tax-exempt organizations with annual budgets of $2 million or less. Groups with a fiscal sponsor or agent can also apply.
  • As required by the National Endowment for the Humanities, organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in order to receive funding. A DUNS number is not required to apply, however, funds cannot be awarded to organizations not registered. If you do not have a DUNS number, please register for one here. There is no cost to register. Please note that it can take up to two weeks to receive a DUNS number.
  • The following types of organizations are ineligible for general operating support: organizations that do not have an explicit commitment to the humanities in their mission and programming; K-12 schools; universities, colleges, and academic departments; chapters of national organizations; for-profit organizations; religious organizations; and individuals.

Apply

  • Applications are due on Thursday, July 15, 2021 by 5:00 PM (CST).
  • Preview the application as a PDF. The PDF is for preview purposes only; please apply using the appropriate application link below. Application questions are the same regardless of location.
  • Organizations based within Cook County apply here.
  • Organizations based outside Cook County apply here.

*Application link will be available on Thursday, May 20 2021 at 9:00 am.

Humanities Project Grants

Illinois Humanities will provide support for emergency relief and recovery to Illinois-based nonprofits to develop or continue humanities-based projects in 2021. These grants will support organizations that may not have an explicit humanities-based mission or scope but incorporate humanities-based programs or projects as part of their work. Examples include performing arts groups that include audience-based discussions of the work; park districts that host seminars or workshops on history, literature, or other humanities disciplines; visual arts groups or art museums that incorporate art history discussions or seminars; community-based organizations that host discussions with community members that promote civic engagement; etc. There are two funding pools: one designated for organizations based within Cook County and one designated for organizations based outside Cook County.

The deadline for applications is Thursday, July 15, 2021 by 5:00 PM (CST)

Guidelines

  • The Humanities Project Grants will be for $5,000.
  • These grants are project grants, meant to provide support to tax-exempt organizations intent on carrying out humanities-based projects that aim to help strengthen their community’s recovery and resilience during COVID-19. No matching funds are required.
  • Please use the location-specific application. Choose the location based on whether your organization is based within (or outside of) Cook County, regardless of where programming takes place. Illinois Humanities is committed to geographic diversity and equitably serving the entire state.
  • As required by the National Endowment for the Humanities, organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in order to receive funding. A DUNS number is not required to apply, however, funds cannot be awarded to organizations not registered. If you do not have a DUNS number, please register for one here. There is no cost to register. Please note that it can take up to two weeks to receive a DUNS number.
  • Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by Wednesday, September 1, 2021.

Eligibility

  • These project grants are eligible to the following types of organizations: Tax-exempt organizations in Illinois; public libraries; K-12 schools; universities, colleges, and academic departments; and organizations focused on the arts.
  • For-profit organizations and individuals are ineligible.

Apply

  • Applications are due Thursday, July 15, 2021 by 5:00 PM (CST).
  • Preview the application as a PDF. The PDF is for preview purposes only; please apply using the appropriate application link below. Application questions are the same regardless of location.
  • Organizations based within Cook County apply here.
  • Organizations based outside Cook County apply here.

*Application link will be available on Thursday, May 20 2021 at 9:00 am.

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 application process.