Foreground Rural Initiative Grants

Historic Marbold Farmstead foreground grantee
Amount

Up to $10,000

For

Individuals and Organizations

Open

Mar 1, 2022
9:00am

Deadline

Aug 15, 2022
5:00pm

Not currently accepting applications for this grant opportunity.

The Foreground Rural Initiative offers grant funding and capacity-building for partners in rural Illinois communities and small towns. These unrestricted grants support local nonprofits, public institutions, artists, cultural workers, and others who work to keep their communities creative and connected.

The Foreground Rural Initiative is not offering grants to new partners at this time. Please check back for available funding opportunities in 2024.

Award Timeline

The Foreground Rural Initiative is not offering grants to new partners at this time. Please check back for available funding opportunities in 2024.

Eligibility and Guidelines

For Organizations

  • Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are eligible for up to $10,000 in unrestricted funds.
  • Eligible organizations include public libraries, civic groups, arts collectives, and more.
    • For-profit businesses are not eligible to apply.
  • Organizations should be based in or serve primarily rural populations and small towns.
  • Be involved in community-building and cultural work in your region.
    • We hold a broad definition of community-building and embrace the many ways this may manifest in your community. Often, this means bringing people together from across generations, ethnic differences, and disciplines to explore history, imagine vibrant civic futures, and experience art and culture together.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to your community, civic engagement, historically under-resourced groups, and collaboration with partners and peers.

Questions about your eligibility? View our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.

For Individuals

  • Individual civic and cultural workers, educators, artists, archivists, and many others are eligible for up to $5,000 in unrestricted funds.
  • Individuals should be based in or serve primarily rural populations and small towns.
  • Be involved in community-building and cultural work in your region.
    • We hold a broad definition of community-building and embrace the many ways this may manifest in your community. Often, this means bringing people together from across generations, ethnic differences, and disciplines to explore history, imagine vibrant civic futures, and experience art and culture together.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to your community, civic engagement, historically under-resourced groups, and collaboration with partners and peers.

Questions about your eligibility? View our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.

How to Apply

The Foreground Rural Initiative is not offering grants to new partners at this time. Please check back for available funding opportunities in 2024.

Evaluation and Documentation

Evaluation and documentation are important to us, and we are eager to see how grant applicants define success and plan to measure progress toward it. We ask grant applicants to describe in precise terms the project's desired outcome, and how they will know if it was successful. Within 30 days of the conclusion of a project or grant period, grantees must complete a final grant report.

We ask all Grant recipients to document their initiatives or events by taking photos, recording audio or video, and sharing their experience with us. We want to share with others the great work that grantees are doing and frequently feature stories of grantee partners in our news and on social media @ILHumanities.

Grantee Resources
  1. Complete your final report via our grantee portal.
  2. Official IH Logo (August 2021 version "Illinois Humanities" is bolded)
  3. Grant Acknowledgement Language: This program was made possible in part by a grant from Illinois Humanities.
  4. Resources for grantee partners and grant seekers.
Ellisville opera house foreground grantee

Photo courtesy of Foreground grantee partner, the Historic Ellisville Restoration Organization.

Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial

A memorial in Kaskaskia, Ill.

Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs

Matt Meacham
Manager of Statewide Engagement

Grantee Partner Spotlight

2021 Delta Upsilon Volunteers 1024x768
Western Illinois University Fraternity, Delta Upsilon, helping move the collection in preparation for renovation work.

Western Illinois Museum

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Western Illinois Museum

Founded in 1974, the Western Illinois Museum’s mission is to “nurture our history and culture.” It is now a hub of community activity. The Museum received an Illinois Humanities Grant to provide financial stability during a time of expansion and renovation of its space.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you define "rural?"

For the purposes of this initiative, Illinois Humanities considers an organization “rural” if it meets at least two of the following four criteria:

  1. It is located in a county with a population density of 150 or fewer residents per square mile;
  2. It is located either in an unincorporated area or in a village, town, or city with a population of 7,500 or fewer residents;
  3. It is located at least 20 miles from the nearest city with a population of 75,000 or more;
  4. It has an explicit mission to serve rural communities or people who reside in rural locations.

We will continue to develop these criteria based on input from partner organizations and consultants.

What do you mean by "community-building?"

In many historically under-resourced communities, there is a strong need to bring people and organizations together to help shore up history–and help people imagine what a culturally and civically vibrant future might look like. This often requires bringing people together from across generations, ethnic differences, and disciplines. We are interested in these areas, and the role that cultural work–in the arts, in the humanities–plays in furthering this creative work.

What is your definition of the humanities?

The humanities are the examination of what it means to be human through the interpretation and discussion of all forms of thought, interest, and expression.

We value traditional humanities disciplines, such as art history, literature, history, and philosophy. However, our emphasis on the public humanities means that we look at the humanities as more than an academic discipline. For us, the public humanities are a mode of inquiry and conversation that aims to engage, support, or challenge the ideals, beliefs, tensions, and prejudices of the communities in which we live. We believe that important thought can happen outside of the academy–in neighborhood institutions, schools, churches, and at kitchen tables across the country.

We are especially interested in instances of the public humanities that promote civic engagement–in raising critical issues facing everyday people and conducted with the hope of increasing their thirst for staying engaged. Rather than being defined by rigid disciplinary boundaries, it is the humanistic lens, which emphasizes curiosity, questioning, and dialogue, that matters.

Does your organization have a working definition of the public humanities? Share it with us–we’re eager to explore how others are addressing this complex question.

What activities and expenses does Illinois Humanities not fund?

Illinois Humanities supports public humanities programs, initiatives, and organizations. We do not fund:

  • Activities that promote a specific political position or ideology
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Businesses, for-profits
  • Capital projects (i.e., renovation or purchase of buildings or land)
  • Endowment contributions
  • Foreign travel
  • Lobbying
  • Major equipment purchases (though equipment to assist a specific program is admissible)
  • Out-of-state programs that have no specific relevance or thematic connection people in Illinois (though technically a grant recipient or fiscal agent can be located elsewhere in the U.S.)
  • Programming that falls outside of the humanities
  • Social services (though a social services agency may apply for funding of a humanities project)
Can I have more than one active grant with Illinois Humanities at a time?

In general, grantees may have one open Vision, Action, or General Operating grant at a given time.  Before applying for a new grant, current grantees should be sure to conclude their open grant by submitting a final report.

A grantee may have an open Vision, Action, or General Operating grant and still receive an Activate History microgrant, Envisioning Justice, or Foreground Rural Initiative grant.

Note: If your organization acts as a fiscal agent for another, you may have an open grant and still receive funding for any grant offered by Illinois Humanities.

Who can apply?

Nonprofit organizations can apply for Illinois Humanities grants. This includes 501(c)3 organizations and nonprofits under state law, as well as libraries, schools, faith-based organizations, and universities. We do not accept grant applications from individuals or for-profit companies. If you are unsure about whether you can apply, reach out to us.

Why does Illinois Humanities have a grant-making program?

Illinois Humanities has been making grants since its inception in 1973. In the past 46 years, Illinois Humanities has made nearly 2,800 grants for a total of more than $17 million. We are proud to have helped support dozens of documentary films, conferences, exhibits, training programs, oral history projects, and scores of other activities. We are firm believers in the many organizations and individuals throughout the state of Illinois that value the humanities, culture, and dialogue as community-building activities, and wish to help them to fulfill their missions, carry out high-quality programming, and grow their organizations. We are indebted to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly for the support that allows this grantmaking program to exist.