Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Photo by Carolina Sánchez

Hero Road Scholar Catalina Maria Johnson cr Carolina Sanchez

Road Scholars Speakers travel across Illinois to bring art, culture, history, and contemporary social issues to life. Invite a speaker to your community to share their passion and expertise about literature, philosophy, theater, local history, film, music, politics, and more – at no cost to you!

Bring a Speaker to Your Community

Featured Event

Blues by Archibald Motley scaled The Black Chicago Renaissance
Cook County

Host Frequently Asked Questions

What should I know before booking a speaker?

Eligibility and Requirements

Meeting all of these requirements does not necessarily guarantee that an application will be approved. Violations of them may result in the denial of future applications.

  • Private clubs may not apply. In addition, presentations may not be held in a private home. All Road Scholars Speakers Bureau events must be open to the public.
  • No event may have audience restrictions. Suggested audiences, such as a "recommendation for children" for programs aimed at a younger audience, are acceptable, but hard requirements or bans are not allowed.
  • Organization may submit applications for presentations for calendar year 2023 through November 15, 2023. We will begin accepting applications for 2024 starting September 1, 2023.
  • Organizations are permitted to host a maximum of two presentations per Illinois Humanities calendar year (event date from January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2023). The date counted is the event date, not the date on which you submit your application. For public entities, such as libraries or park districts, a related foundation or organization—e.g. "Friends of the Library"—is not, for these purposes, considered a separate organization and therefore will not be allowed to book additional presentations under a related foundation or 'Friends of' name.
  • Organizations must make a demonstrable effort to promote the event to communities beyond members/patrons.
  • Illinois Humanities strongly encourages all grantees to take action to ensure that people with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act have access to benefits and services resulting from the grant-funded project.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

How do I book a speaker?
  1. Pick a speaker and presentation from the above roster
  2. Contact the speaker directly to arrange a date, time, and location
  3. Complete the online application to book the speaker*
  4. Wait for your award notification via the email address you supplied in your application
  5. Have your audience complete the survey form received in your award packet
  6. Complete the final report no later than 30 days following your event using the online application portal

*Please complete the online application at least six weeks before the scheduled date of your event

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

What if the speaker I wanted is already booked up?

Every speaker on our roster is allotted a maximum number of program slots to fill over the course of a given fiscal year. Throughout the year, the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau web page will reflect which speakers are still available and which have filled the maximum number of slots. If, however, you see that a speaker is booked up, but you are still interested in booking a program with her or him, you can arrange a program directly with the speaker, independent of any Illinois Humanities involvement. Keep in mind that the speaker’s independent fee is greater than what they receive to host an Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Speakers program.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

Why might my request for my presentation be denied?

We will not approve a request if your organization has already booked two programs in the same fiscal year. If your organization will not make the program open to the public, or if you plan to charge an admission fee, we are unlikely to approve the program. If the speaker for whom you have applied has booked her or his maximum number of programs for the fiscal year already, we may not approve your request. If we do not approve a program, you are welcome to arrange a program with the speaker independent of Illinois Humanities and negotiate compensation with her or him.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

How long will it take to process my application?

Please allow up to six weeks for approval of your application request.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

How should I promote my program?

Illinois Humanities will provide you with suggestions for publicizing your program, as well as a press release template, which you can use as the basis of a press release to be given to local newspapers, radio stations, and other media outlets. You are also encouraged to promote your program through social media postings, e-mail announcements, and newsletters. In some cases, the presenter might be willing and able to publicize the program through her or his website or other channels and might be available to do interviews with local media; feel free to ask her or him about such possibilities.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

How will the speaker receive payment?

After the program, the speaker will be paid directly by Illinois Humanities. Speakers are paid an honorarium, as well as provided reimbursement for travel expenses. There is no cost to the host organization.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

Emergency with a Road Scholars event—what should I do?

Sometimes winter weather or unanticipated developments can make travel for our speakers difficult. If for some reason you must cancel a program, please contact Fairouz AbuGhazaleh via phone at (312) 374-1553 or email speakers@ilhumanities.org immediately. 

You will be able to reschedule the program for an alternate date.

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact us at speakers@ilhumanities.org.

Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs

speakers@ilhumanities.org
(312) 374-1553

Funders