Tools for Grant Seekers

Illinois Humanities wants to make our grants accessible and easy to navigate for new and returning grantee partners. Whether you are new to grant writing or want to strengthen your proposal, we have many tools to support you.

Frequently Asked Questions

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, Multiplier, 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 with over 3,000 awards given, totaling over $22 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 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.

Webinars & Workshops

Upcoming Workshop

Envisioning Justice Grants Webinar
Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 11:00 a.m. CDT
Virtual via Zoom
RSVP today

Join us to learn the ins and outs of Envisioning Justice Grant opportunities. Applications for the Envisioning Justice Grants open Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The deadline is Tuesday, July 16, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

Envisioning Justice project-based grants are for organizations (up to $10,000) and individuals (up to $5,000). These grant opportunities aim to support work that harnesses the arts and humanities to work toward a truly just society. Prison education programs, independent media, community dialogues, and conferences are just a few of the impactful initiatives we fund to create understanding about mass incarceration and its impact on communities across Illinois.

Previously Recorded Workshops

Illinois Humanities regularly hosts virtual workshops for interested applicants to learn about available grant opportunities and hone their proposal writing skills. Watch a selection of our webinars below and on our YouTube channel.

  • About Illinois Humanities' Vision, Action, and Multiplier Grants (2024)

  • About Illinois Humanities' General Operating Grants (2023)

  • About Illinois Humanities' Activate History Microgrants (2023)

  • Keys to Strong Proposal Writing (2022)

  • Strengthening Your Fundraising Capacity (2022)

  • How to Grow and Manage Your Volunteers Program (2022)


View successful grant proposals

View sample grant applications

These sample PDFs are for your information, but should not be used to formally apply. Apply online here.

  • coming soon

Additional Support

In addition to grant funding, Illinois Humanities offers grantee partners a bi-monthly eNewsletter, Meet & Greet convenings with other grantee partners, monthly virtual sessions and listserv for executive directors called, First Fridays, webinars and workshops, monthly grantee “Spotlight” interviews, grants database searches, and more.

Upcoming workshops and opportunities to continue your practice will be shared directly with current grantees.

Contact our grants team with questions.

2015 media journalism group discussion
Contact Us

Mark Hallett
Director of Grants Programs