Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants

Apply for a Program Innovation or Community Resilience project grant.

Program Description

Illinois Humanities is committed to ensuring access to free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois. COVID-19 has put an unprecedented strain on non-profit organizations in Illinois and on the people who make public humanities happen. With the support of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the CARES Act, Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants will provide $635,000 in general operating and program support to  humanities and cultural nonprofits throughout Illinois. The deadline for general operating support is May 15th at 5 PM and the deadline for program support is June 15th at 5 PM.

The main goals of the Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants are to:

1) Provide emergency relief support for humanities-based organizations throughout the state who are impacted by COVID-19;

2) Help enable humanities-based organizations to innovate, adapt, and strengthen access to their programming;

3) Support humanities-based efforts to make community experiences during the pandemic visible and highlight resiliency throughout the state.

If you have further questions, reach out to Mark Hallett, Program Manager, Grants, at mark.hallett@ilhumanities.org.

Program Innovation and Adaptation

Deadline: June 15th at 5 PM

Illinois Humanities will be awarding $100,000 in program innovation and adaptation grants to support the efforts of humanities-based organizations to innovate, adapt, and strengthen programming. Examples of this type of support include (but are not limited to): efforts to digitize or archive content; moving programs to virtual platforms; community engagement; closed-captioning, translation, and other accessibility efforts for digital and virtual content; involving humanists to develop new content or public programs. The deadline for program innovation and adaptation support is 5 PM on June 15th.

Community Resilience

Deadline: June 15th at 5 PM

Illinois Humanities will be awarding $60,000 in Community Resilience project grants. The goal of this grant category is to support organizations in using the humanities to make visible the experiences of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight stories of community resiliency throughout the state. Grant funds may be used to cover operating, documentation, and program accessibility expenses, and to pay storytellers, scholars, writers, humanists, artists, musicians, photographers, interviewees, or other individuals participating in the project. Ten projects will be funded across the entire state of Illinois.
Examples of this type of support include (but are not limited to): Pairing artists and writers to capture stories and create a poster series; creating a photo essay with reflection questions; engaging a storyteller to implement a program that enables members of a community to reflect on their experiences during COVID-19; publishing an Instagram series paired with quotes from community members; pairing existing local history and cultural artifacts with reflective prompt questions that help people reflect on our current moment; creating a listening station and curating an audio series. Funded projects need to document their story-capturing process and resulting projects must be available to the public and shareable.

This grant takes inspiration from community history and public humanities and art efforts including Paper Monuments; One Poem at A Time; Fill the Walls with Hope; the Pulitzer Center’s “Mother of Mothers”; and the national Works Progress Administration posters.

Strong applications will be informed by the history and specificity of each place or community and draw on local and/or community assets. The deadline for community resilience support is 5 PM on June 15th.

General Operating Support

Illinois Humanities will provide $475,000 in emergency relief general operating grants for humanities and cultural non-profit organizations with budgets up to $1.5M impacted by COVID-19. Two funding pools are available: one designated for organizations based within Cook County and one designated for organizations based outside Cook County. The deadline for general operating support applications is 5 PM on May 15th.

Frequently Asked Questions