About Us

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Our Mission

Illinois Humanities is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that spark conversation, foster reflection, build community, and strengthen civic engagement for everyone in Illinois.


An Illinois where the humanities are central to making the state more just, creative, and connected

Founded in 1974, we are the state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities and supported by state, federal, and private funds. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Stay connected with us by subscribing to the Illinois Humanities newsletter and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.

Our Strategic Plan

Our new strategic plan outlines what we are going to do and why. Over the next five years, we will work to make the public humanities central to a just, creative, and connected, Illinois. We are committed to being partner-centered, honoring our complex histories and cultures, making space for difficult (and crucial) conversations, and actively promoting equity.

We will champion a statewide humanities ecosystem by creating programs to address timely issues, amplifying statewide public humanities programs and practitioners with support and visibility, connecting organizations with one another and across diverse sectors, and promoting the importance of the humanities for our state’s wellbeing.

  • WTTW Rendaldo Hudson Gabrielle Lyon

    Envisioning Justice partner Renaldo Hudson (left) and Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon at an event cohosted by Illinois Humanities and WTTW.

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    A young writer performs their winning poem at the 2023 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards. (Photo by Glitter Guts)

  • 2023 OP Graduation NS

    Graduates of the Odyssey Project/Proyecto Odisea pose with their certificates at the 2023 graduation ceremony.

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    Director of Grants Programs Mark Hallett (left) and Board member Juana Guzman present an award at the 2023 Public Humanities Awards. (Photo by Glitter Guts)

  • Country and City 2019 speaker at podium

    A 2019 Country and the City event gathers speakers, performers, and audience members in Springfield, Ill.

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    Illinois Humanities staff at the 2023 Public Humanities Awards.

Our Grantee Partners

Our Impact

For nearly 50 years, Illinois Humanities has worked throughout the state to make the public humanities accessible to all. Through grants, partnerships, and public programs, we have worked with groups of all sizes, disciplines, and stages of development to increase their local and statewide impact and support the state’s cultural ecosystem.

Explore the map to discover our vast network of grantee partners across the state and connect with a public humanities organization near you. Below, see a snapshot of how Illinois Humanities grants and programs provide free and transformative humanities experiences for all Illinoisans. 


Illinoisans served in 76 counties through grants and public programming


income-eligible adults were provided free college credit courses in the humanities


grants awarded to small, community-based arts and culture organizations

$ 2.4 M

in total COVID-19 relief funding provided in 78 counties and every congressional district

Recent Grantee Partners

Activate History Microgrants

Eve Bridges, Cook County, $750 

Haitian American Museum of Chicago, Cook County, $1,000 

History On Wheels, Will County, $1,000 

Jackson County Historical Society, Jackson County, $1,000 

Legacy Training, Pulaski County, $850 

The Hub-Arts and Cultural Center, Schuyler County, $750 

The Realitea Project Inc., Cumberland County $1,000 

Tony Burroughs, Cook County, $950


Community Grants (Action, General Operating, and Vision)

The Community Archive, St. Clair County, $4,250 

McLean County Museum of History, McLean County, $4,000 

Liberation Journeys, Cook County, $5,000 

Black Alphabet, Cook County, $4,250 

Congo Square Theatre, Cook County, $4,250 

Crossing Borders Music, Cook County, $4,150 

Design Trust Chicago, Cook County, $4,000 

Lynx Project, Cook County, $4,250 

Sonny Speaks, Cook County, $4,250 

Arts & Business Council of Chicago, Cook County, $2,000 

Hyde Park Art Center, Cook County, $4,000 

International Children's Media Center, Cook County, $4,100 

Liberation Library, Cook County, $4,000 

MAKE Literary Productions, Cook County, $4,250 

Nothing Without a Company Inc., Cook County, $2,250 

Public Media Institute, Cook County, $4,250 

Serendipity Theatre Company DBA 2nd Story, Cook County, $4,100

Youth Network Council, Cook County, $5,000 

Strategy for Access Foundation NFP, Cook County, $5,000 

National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial, Cook County, $5,000 

Bronzeville / Black Chicagoan Historical Society, Cook County, $4,100 

Midwest Save Our Ancestors Remains and Resources Indigenous Network Group Foundation, Cook County, $4,250 

Gilloury Institute DBA Silk Road Rising, Cook County, $4,100

contratiempo NFP, Cook County, $5,000 

Cicero Independiente, Cook County, $5,000 

Quad Cities Pride in Memory, Inc., Scott County, $4,200 

Illinois Heartland Library System, Madison County, $4,000

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Cook County, $5,000 

History Center Lake Forest Lake Bluff, Lake County, $4,000 

Lawrence County Illinois Historical Society, Lawrence County, $5,000 

Western Illinois Museum, McDonough County, $5,000 

Understanding Works NFP, Warren County, $4,250 

Oregon Public Library District, Ogle County, $5,000 

Pana Historical Society, Christian County, $5,000 

Edgar County Historical Society, Edgar County, $4,000 

Abe Lincoln Project, Pike County, $5,000 

Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, Randolph County, $5,000 

Royalton Public Library District, Franklin County, $5,000 

Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts and Research Center, Sangamon County, $4,000 

Chicago Workers Collaborative, Lake County, $4,200

Envisioning Justice Grants

Aaron Hughes, Cook County, $4,000 

Alex Morelli, Cook County, $4,000 

Beyond the Walls The Movement, NFP, Jackson County, $8,000 

Chasity Ann Michelle Gunn, Cook County, $4,250 

Chicago 400 Alliance, Cook County, $8,000 

Chicago Community Bond Fund, Cook County, $8,000 

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Foundation, Cook County, $8,000

Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices, Cook County, $8,000 

Faylita Hicks, Cook County, $4,000 

FirstFollowers, Champaign County, $8,000 

FORCE! an opera in three acts, Cook County, $4,000 

India Hilty, Cook County, $4,200 

Joseph R Dole, Will County, $4,000 

Kirsten Leenaars, Cook County, $4,000 

Legacy Training, Inc., Pulaski County, $8,000 

Liberation Library, Cook County, $8,000 

Mothers Healing Circle, Cook County, $4,250 

North Park Theological Seminary School of Restorative Arts, Cook County, $8,000 

Piven Theatre Workshop, Cook County, $8,000 

Saint Leonard's Ministries, Cook County, $8,000 

Sojourner Zenobia, Cook County, $4,200 

Stomping Grounds Literary Arts Initiative, Cook County, $8,000

Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center, Champaign County, $8,000


Foreground Rural Initiative Grants

Brian "Fox" Ellis, Henry County, $6,000

Cairo Historical Preservation Project, Alexander County, $10,000

Carbondale Community Arts Inc dba Artspace 304, Jackson County, $10,000

Carlinville Winning Communities, Macoupin County, $10,000

Crossroads Cultural Connections, Henry County, $10,000

Dennis Stroughmatt, Edwards County, $6,000

Evans Public Library, Fayette County, $10,000

Fulton County Arts, Fulton County, $10,000

Gallery 510 Art and Framing, an Illinois Art Gallery, Macon County, $10,000

Gin Ridge Music, McDonough County, $6,000

Grundy County Historical Society, Grundy County, $10,000

Here and Again Inc, La Salle County, $10,000

Heterodyne Broadcasting, $10,000

Historic Ellisville Restoration Organization, Fulton County, $10,000

Historic Marbold Farmstead Association, Menard County, $10,000

Illinois Rural Heritage Museum, Perry County, $10,000

Legacy Training and Development, $10,000

Men of Power Women of Strength, Inc., Alexander County, $10,000

Moultrie County Historical & Genealogical Society, Moultrie County, $10,000

Sandra Pfeifer, Pope County, $6,000

Savanna Historical Society NFP, Carroll County, $10,000

Schuyler County Architecture Foundation, Schuyler County, $10,000

Southern Illinois Culture & Arts in Bilingual Education (SI CABE), Jackson County, $10,000

Stephanie Fraction, Alexander County, $6,000

The Hub-Arts and Cultural Center, Schuyler County, $10,000

The Realitea Project Inc., Cumberland County, $10,000

Tri States Public Radio, McDonough County, $10,000

Our Team

Illinois Humanities is powered by a dedicated team of Board and staff members whose care and commitment have helped to increase our impact across the state. Meet the people who make our work possible and browse available opportunities at Illinois Humanities.


Meet Our Board & StaffWork With Us

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Board member John Bracken (left) and Program Manager of Envisioning Justice Tyreece Williams present the Beacon Award at the 2023 Public Humanities Awards. (Photo by GlitterGuts)

Land Acknowledgement 

At Illinois Humanities we respectfully acknowledge that the land on which our main office is located is made up of the territories and lands of the people of Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Odawa Nations as well as many other tribes who have called this land home including Miami, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee Nations. These Nations were forcefully removed from their traditional territories, however, these lands continue to carry the stories, resilience, and tenacity of these Nations. Despite the federal and local government-enforced policies of genocide of American Indians, Chicago is home to the third-largest urban Indian population representing more than 100 different Tribal Nations.

We also recognize that land acknowledgment statements are most meaningful when coupled with a commitment to programs and actions that support Indigenous rights and cultural equity. We acknowledge that Illinois Humanities is just starting this journey and that we have more work to do, but we are committed to supporting and building sustained relationships with Indigenous organizations throughout Illinois and encourage you to support these organizations and efforts as well. In the Chicago area, these organizations include The American Indian Center, Trickster Cultural Center, American Indian Health Services, and the Center for Native Futures.