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Illlinois Humanities offers COVID help

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CHICAGO–  Illinois Humanities awarded 130 COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants to organizations across the state, including the McHenry County Historical Society & Museum in Union, totaling $497,500.

The purpose of these grants is to help humanities organizations throughout the state to weather the pandemic.

As events, festivals, camps, venue rentals and summer seasons continue to be cancelled, humanities organizations across Illinois are struggling to survive. Arts and cultural organizations who applied for the grant reported more than $11 million in current and projected losses through 2020 and amongst grantees nearly a quarter have already had to lay off staff.

“As the impact of COVID-19 continues to devastate Illinoisans, Illinois Humanities is more committed than ever to ensuring our diverse humanities organizations are not only equipped to survive the pandemic but also able to pivot the ways in which they creatively provide programming.” said Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon, PhD. “These organizations serve as anchors for our state’s history, culture and livability. They are central to our ability to reopen and rebuild – and, most of all, come back together in community.”

Funds for the relief grants are primarily provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and supplemented by donations raised during Illinois Humanities’ May 21st Public Humanities Award event.

Grant recipients received awards of $2,500, $5,000 or $7,500 based on the organization’s budget size. Approximately half of the grants (63) were awarded to organizations based within Cook County and the other half (67) to organizations based outside of Cook County. Applicants were ranked in terms of factors including a demonstrated history of public humanities programming, budget size, geographic location, statement of need, and financial challenges inflicted by the pandemic.

Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.

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