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Grants Awarded

We fund humanities-based activities and conversations that address what matters in our communities. We support projects across the state and yours could be next!

Mini Grants Awarded in 2016

Displacement and Immigration: Through a Different Lens


This project will use WHC funding to help middle school students and their families gain a deeper understanding about global displacement of people as well as local immigration. In partnership with the Neville Public Museum, students will see three films and a theatrical production with discussion following about what leads to immigration – both what pushes people from their home countries and what draws them to their new homes – and the impact this displacement has on communities. This program is designed for middle schoolers, who often are not the target of public programs. The films explore a Syrian refugee camp, an undocumented Latina pursuing the arts in California, and the odyssey of a Hmong family who waits in a Thai refugee camp before eventual settlement in the U.S. The one-person performance tells the true story of a German-Jewish man who must either secretly assimilate for having a Jewish grandparent, or flee his homeland during World War II. This project is part of our Focus on Race and Ethnicity.

Literature for Life: Inmates Talking About Books


With the help of WHC funds, the Kenosha Public Library will be providing two monthly book discussions, one for men and one for women, for inmates at the Kenosha County Detention Center. KPL is building off past literature discussions that had a meaningful impact on participants and wanted to expand the series based on requests. The series gives inmates an opportunity to examine their own experiences through the lens of literature and guided by the humanities to express their thoughts and weigh their experiences in a non-judgmental forum. WHC funds will go toward the purchase of the 11 titles in paperback for each participant.

NEA Big Read: La Crosse Reads


Issues of racial tension and discrimination are critical themes in the NEA Big Read book, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, selected by grant recipient UW-La Crosse English Department. Questions of social and economic justice and structural racism emerge in the fictional story about a Southern community in the 1940s. WHC funds will be used to support a community-wide conversation that contextualizes Gaines’ book for La Crosse readers and promote literacy through the discussion. This project is part of our Focus on Race and Ethnicity.

ARTi Gras 2017


WHC is happy to again fund ARTi Gras, a cultural arts festival that has grown to 10 days with venues in Central Wisconsin cities including Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Port Edwards, Nekoosa and Amherst. The festival includes film, literature, history, poetry, theatre, music and visual arts. This year, a poetry slam will return, and literary anniversaries will lead to a special focus on Jane Austen and Shakespeare. Additionally, a British comedienne of Pakistani descent, Sajeela Kershi will also help kick off a foreign film event exploring themes of tolerance.

Teju the Storyteller in Platteville


WHC funds will help bring Teju the Storyteller to Platteville for Martin Luther King Day in 2017 to provide a day of school workshops and a public performance to celebrate diversity and history in partnership with UW-Platteville’s Black Student Union. Tejumola Oloboni is a storyteller, folklorist and historian from Milwaukee whose stories draw from African traditions and African American history and folklore. Workshops will be held for elementary school youth, with a free public performance in the Municipal Auditorium for community members. This project is part of our Focus on Race and Ethnicity.

A Day in the Life …


WHC funds will help provide period appropriate materials and props for the National Railroad Museum’s “Day in the Life” 1860s experience targeted to students who use the museum as part of their school curriculum for hands-on educational activities. The project weaves American history into lessons about math, science, literature and culture. Students immerse themselves in six stations focusing on different aspects of 1860s life including Civil War soldiers, Reconstruction, westward expansion and immigration, the building the of Transcontinental Railroad, surveying and developing the West, and the Underground Railroad to Freedom.

Sixth Annual Tony Woiak History Festival


WHC is again supporting the Washburn Heritage Association and Washburn Area Historical Society in hosting a series of local history lectures in Washburn this winter. The talks involve harrowing Lake Superior stories that earn the coined phrase “the Lake is the Boss,” a look at Ojibwe history involving the treaty making era and the significance of Madeline Island to Lake Superior Ojibwe, the history of Ashwabay, the ski hill that also shares grounds with Big Top Chautauqua, and the history of Walker High School Fire of 1947.

Ojibwe Lifeways: An Educational, Historical, and Cultural Experience


This four-day, hands-on educational, historical, and cultural immersion program on the Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Northern Wisconsin has been part of the Prescott High School curriculum for many years. Students explore in depth historical and contemporary Native American and First Nation issues through discussions with tribal members, visit important sites, engage in question and answer sessions with tribal educators and experts, and participate in a host of activities designed to foster greater understanding and appreciation for Native Americans in Wisconsin. When students return to Prescott, they make a film about the experiences and present to local schools and civic organizations.

Working Lives: A Look at Water and Transportation in the Slinger Area


Sociology, history and science students from Slinger High School are working with members of local organizations and Educational Television Productions/NEW to conduct interviews and document working lives in the area. The focus is on people who work in water and transportation fields, as well as local community members’ experience with railroads, roads, lakes and water. A year’s worth of site visits, interviews, surveys, and speakers will culminate in a public program in May 2017 called ‘Slinger Area History/Culture Night’ where the videos, displays and a website will be shared and further dialogue with the community will be encouraged and documented.

Deliberative Dialogue and Youth Voice


What issues do Milwaukee youth find pressing? How does dialogue shift when youth become the moderators? How can youth-generated digital stories promote student engagement within communities, develop leadership, and support civic voice? Parents for Public Schools – Milwaukee has partnered with UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership and Research to engage high school students in deliberative dialogue around the question, “what can communities do to help youth succeed?” Students will be trained to facilitate dialogues with their schools and neighborhoods and create digital stories based on the dialogues to present at a public showcase. This project empowers students and gives them the tools they need to assess situations from multiple perspectives and advocate for solutions to real-world problems. The project is founded on the belief that developing student voices is critical because youth play an important role in schools and society, and their experiences have much to teach us.

Alice in Dairyland: Wisconsin’s Agricultural Ambassador


2017 will celebrate seven decades of the Alice in Dairyland program and it has been almost 40 years since the Finals were last held in Brown County. Over the year leading up to the Finals, the current Alice in Dairyland will attend monthly events in Brown County. The museum is developing an exhibit that explores the iconic role Alice in Dairyland has played in Wisconsin agriculture over the past 70 years. No longer a pageant queen, Alice is now the reflection of a booming industry that provides over $88 billion to our state’s economy. Visitors will discover how Alice, her selection, her duties and the agriculture industry have changed since the first Alice was crowned in 1948.

Project Citizen


Project Citizen is a critically acclaimed civic education program for upper elementary, middle school, high school, and youth group organizations that promotes competent and responsible participation by students in local and state government. As a class project students work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their school or community. They research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution and create an action plan to solve the problem. In the process, the students learn about public policy and that they can make a difference. The final product is a portfolio that may be presented before other classes, groups or community organizations. Teachers are encouraged to enter their students’ portfolio in the Project Citizen State Hearing Showcase held in April at the American Family Insurance National Headquarters in Madison. The state winner goes on to be evaluated in the Project Citizen National Showcase in Los Angeles in July.

Second Saturdays-Journeys Into Local History


Second Saturdays – Journeys Into Local History is an interactive speakers’ series that brings regional speakers to Sheboygan Falls. The Saturday morning cultural events are designed to stretch minds and imaginations with new ideas. Nine sessions are held each year, one on each second Saturday of the month, starting with “Milwaukee Mayhem, Murder and Mystery in the Cream City’s First Century” in September to “Prohibition in Wisconsin’s Holyland” in May 2017.

Northwoods Book Festival


Six rural libraries in Iron, Oneida and Vilas counties have come together to produce the Northwoods Book Festival. Designed to serve the communities in northern Wisconsin, where literary events are less frequent, events will be spread out from June through September to attract summer visitors and residents. A popular novel by Wisconsin author Nickolas Butler called “Shotgun Lovesongs” was selected as a Community Read and will be discussed at libraries in Boulder Junction, Manitowish Waters, Mercer, Minocqua, Presque Isle, and Winchester. Butler will appear at the end of the summer for a big, free event at Camp Jorn YMCA. Other featured events include a children’s picture author, non-fiction writers with books on egg farming and the Kovac Planetarium, a novelist from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and a locally-based naturalist.

The Kantian Dinner Party Initiative


Milwaukee-area audiences will be treated to a series of public dinner parties to be held in accord with rules established by the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. The organizers are testing Kant’s theory that a dinner party gives guests the opportunity to both promote their individual growth as persons and cultivate the skills necessary for effective and productive discussion and debate. They are inviting people from a diverse cross-section of Milwaukee communities to participate, hoping to put these ideals to use in a modern context. The format is structured so that dinner guests discuss timely topics in a manner that promotes the civic virtues of respect and civility in a pleasant, social setting.

From Page to Stage


Throughout fall 2016 and winter 2017, monologue performances and Play Club will engage patrons of Dane County libraries in performances, readings, and discussions of locally written and produced theatrical works.

The Mitzvah Project


In Milwaukee, Ripon, and Waukesha this March, this performance and lecture will explore a little-known story of the Second World War: the history and fate of tens of thousands of Germans descended from one or two Jewish grandparents, so-called “mischlings,” who served in the Wehrmacht.

One World Global Art, Literature, and Film Series


Now in its third year, this series of events in March 2016 will focus on Islam. Through public talks, informal “meet your neighbor” gatherings, films, literary performance, and art, participants will have the opportunity to explore the history and culture of Muslims locally, nationally, and globally. This award was made possible with funds from the HRK Foundation.

Taking the De Pere Historical Society Photo Show on the Road


In March 2016, residents of De Pere will share their oral and visual histories at the long-running “Photo Show” programs. The stories they generate at the programs will be documented and later shared with the public, adding to the community’s collective memory.

Tough Times: The Great Depression and Echoes Since


In March and April 2016, this series of four public lectures will explore the history of the Great Depression—its causes, New Deal programs for recovery, and the resulting impacts on the contemporary political landscape. Speakers will highlight Wisconsin’s role in the development of government programs established during the time.

Veninga Lectures on Religion and Politics & Community Action Meeting


This series of public lectures in central Wisconsin and the Fox Valley in Spring 2016 will address the Pope’s recent Encyclical and its statements about stewardship of the environment. In addition, two multi-sector community meetings will address the impact of climate change on pubic health.

Through Daniel’s Eyes: Photos of Eau Claire a Century Ago


From May 2016 to May 2017, the Chippewa Valley Museum will collaborate with the UW-Eau Claire Public History Program and the university library’s Special Archives and Collections department to produce a photograph exhibit about early 20th century Eau Claire. After traveling from the museum to the university, the exhibit will conclude at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire.

Logging Heydays Event


On July 23, 2016, the Polk County Historical Society in Balsam Lake will engage community members of all ages with free demonstrations and exhibits about the county’s history and culture, particularly as it relates to logging. This award was made possible with funds from the HRK Foundation.

Wisconsin’s Civil War Program Tours by Historical Performer Judy Cook


At public libraries across the state in July and September 2016, living history performer Judy Cook will present free programs about life in small-town and rural Wisconsin during the Civil War, and about the camp life of one Wisconsin soldier.



In late April and early May 2016, Music Theatre of Madison will present the Midwest premiere of the musical ARLINGTON, the story of an Army wife and her reflections on war. Five of the six performances will feature talkbacks with local military and veterans’ affairs experts.

Major Grants Awarded in 2016

Let’s Face It: How Communities Remember and Repair Racial Trauma


Annually in February, the America’s Black Holocaust Museum invites the Greater Milwaukee community to its Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation. WHC funds will help bring in speakers and provide publication support for the 2017 Founder’s Day Gathering, which will focus on emerging strategies to help heal racial trauma in a time when many of the current events of the day can trigger memories of traumatic times in America’s racial history. The project will explore questions about the ethics of commemoration of trauma and whether acknowledgement of America’s violent racial history has a role in the work of memory and racial healing. This project is part of our Focus on Race and Ethnicity.

Blacklist: Hollywood’s Red Scare


WHC funds will help the Jewish Museum Milwaukee create an original exhibit in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings and the Hollywood Blacklist that emerged as a form of censorship of people accused of being Communists, despite that political affiliation being Constitutionally protected. The exhibit explores how the Hollywood Blacklist was implemented, and its impacts on the livelihoods of those accused. JMM will work with the archive of the Center for Film and Theater Research at UW-Madison, which has an extensive holdings of films by blacklistees. The exhibit will highlight the role of the outsider and how marginalized groups responded to government and industry intervention as well as the role civil liberties and First Amendment rights were curtailed. JMM intends to use the Blacklist to spark conversations around contemporary threats to free speech and civil liberties.

Ogichidaag Storytellers Video Series


The Ogichidaag Storytellers is a video project that aims to educate the public, especially youth, about the treaty rights struggles faced by Ojibwe tribes in northern Wisconsin and Michigan during the 1960s-1980s. WHC funds will help with the post-production costs of one of four, 4-5 minute videos documenting the stories of tribal members who played important roles in the reaffirmation of treaty rights. The Gurnoe v. Wisconsin case that affirmed the rights of tribal members to make a living as commercial fishermen without a state license, is told from the experience of eight members of the Red Cliff and Bad River bands of Lake Superior Chippewa who were arrested for fishing in Lake Superior waters adjacent the reservations without a state permit. The project includes interviews with principal defendants or their survivors and stresses the importance of ordinary people who accomplish the extraordinary, and the spiritual, cultural and personal implications of treaty rights. This project is part of our Focus on Race and Ethnicity.

Water Story MKE


Water Story MKE is a free place-based public engagement app that uses community storytelling and gameplay to engage general audiences about water stories hidden in plain sight at five Milwaukee sites. Once they are within range of a site’s coordinates, players can unlock a range of digital scavenger hunt experiences that share in-depth water stories, including the history of the human relationship with water at each site. The stories allow exploration and discovery of invisible water stewardship practices, now and throughout history, at five key sites: Bradford Beach, Pumphouse, Lakefront Brewery, the Brewery Neighborhood and Cream City Farms @ Walnut Hill. Since the platform allows players to interact with the game, they can add their own stories, creating a community conversation around the theme of water. WHC’s award will help fund research, graphics licensing and the launch of the app at special events.

Folk Art as a Reflection of Identity and Community


WHC funds will help the MHAHS debut a folk art-based exhibit that will include a variety of ethnic artifacts representing the people and traditions of Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland and Scotch-Yankee, spanning the spectrum from first-generation keepsakes to 20th century tourist trinkets. The art will be interpreted in terms of individual and community identity, a topic that is tied to Mount Horeb’s ethnic personality as the “Troll Capital of the World” while addressing the shifting landscape of Mount Horeb’s identity as new residents find their own sense of place. It will involve local folk art demonstrations, an interactive e-book kiosk and activities to engage children. The exhibit will be installed in the museum’s new Driftless Historium, scheduled to open next year.

“My War: Wartime Photographs by Vietnam Veterans” Traveling Exhibit


This exhibit of personal photographs from many Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans will debut at the The Highground Learning Center. The pictures and accompanying catalog depict what US veterans endured during the Vietnam War. The exhibition will travel to other venues where contributing veterans will also speak. The goal is to tell the Vietnam Veterans’ stories and bring a personal and up-close view of the veterans’ experiences to the public.

National History Day Mentor and Friendly Finding Aid


The Friendly Finding Aid is a website being designed for students to use as they develop their National History Day projects. The goal is to make primary-source documents, and research into local history, much more accessible for people who are not professional researchers. UW-La Crosse history students will be trained to mentor middle and high school students, as well as teachers and community members, to encourage National History Day projects that focus on local stories, community history, and regional connections with larger historic events.

Untold Stories Testimonial Writing Workshop and Spring Showcase


“Untold Stories” is a two-part series of yearly programs hosted by Mount Mary University. The focus is on shaping personal testimony of survivors of sexual violence, human trafficking and intimate partner violence. The series is informed by a humanities-based curriculum and a reflective process, which is ultimately used to create lasting social change. The program is provided in part by the Voices and Faces Project and includes an innovative Testimonial Writing Workshop (We Are The Stories We Tell) for survivors and a community engagement event. A partnership with Arts@Larger and art therapy interns from Mount Mary University help to produce a gallery exhibit, while written works are shared at a Writers Showcase.

Asylum: Out of the Shadows


What was it like to work in a mental health asylum in Wisconsin? This research and exhibit project will shed light on the operations of the Outagamie County Asylum for the Insane from 1889 to its present-day successor, Brewster Village (county nursing home). During this long history, the concept of “work” transpired in the many complexities of forced patient labor, professionalization through unionization, evolving care and treatment, and an act of whistle-blowing for the safety of patients. “Asylum: Out of the Shadows” will help to inspire crucial conversations about healthcare work as a constantly evolving profession. By focusing on the individuals who lived and worked at the asylum, the goal of this project is to shed light on the institution, act as truth and reconciliation for past abuses, personalize the stories of the residents and employees, and help remove stigma.

Talking Spirits XVIII: Forest Hill Cemetery Tour


The annual Forest Hill Cemetery Tour is a walking tour and an informative living history event that showcases Madison’s role during the Civil War. This year, four vignettes will highlight people from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives on the Civil War. The volunteer tour guides are well versed in the history of Madison, Forest Hill Cemetery, and the Civil War, and are an excellent resource for patrons of all ages. The vignettes themselves bring history to life, especially for the over 1500 school children that attend the tour each year.

Wisconsin Book Festival


The Wisconsin Book Festival enriches lives through literature, education, and the sharing of ideas. The festival’s events delve into an eclectic range of humanities topics through the mediums of fiction, poetry, history, cultural studies, digital media, biography, online publishing , children’s literature, animation, art history, political science, and food. Madison Public Library (MPL), with the support of its private foundation, produces the Wisconsin Book Festival as year-long series of events that culminates in a four-day celebration of books, literature, and authors from October 20-23, 2016.

Beading Culture: Raised Beadwork and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin


This exhibition and public programs tell stories of resilience and cultural preservation while showcasing the modern artists who continue the practice of raised beadwork in Wisconsin. Events include lectures, artist demonstrations, a panel on nurturing and sustaining traditional Native arts, gallery talks, and workshops for small groups. Produced in partnership with the Oneida Nation Museum and Oneida Nation Arts Program, the exhibit will open at the James Watrous Gallery (Madison) in September 2016 and travel to additional Wisconsin venues before installation at the Oneida Nation Museum in 2017-2018.

Making Archaeology Public Project: Video Production Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act and Tribal Consultation


The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), passed in 1966, provides direction regarding the treatment of America’s historic properties through the National Register of Historic Places. This important act is the focus of a film, which will include stories about the impact the act has had from all over the country. The Wisconsin portion, entitled “Seeking Ethnic Identification in Wisconsin’s Late Pre-Contact Cultural Landscape, Tribal and Archaeological Collaboration” highlights archaeological research sponsored by the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin. It will showcase how NHPA-driven tribal consultation has facilitated the highly successful, collaborative relationship resulting in positive benefits for both archaeologists and the Tribe.

Water Shapes Wisconsin


The Wisconsin Historical Society is producing a traveling exhibit and related curriculum materials investigating the important role that water has played, and continues to play, in shaping Wisconsin’s landscape, economy, culture, and traditions. From March 2016 until August 2017, Water Shapes Wisconsin will be exhibited in the Milwaukee Public Schools and then travel to 27 Lake Michigan shoreline communities.

Wisconsin’s Underwater Treasures


Throughout the spring and into the summer of 2016, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum is leading a collaborative information gathering process in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society and local historical societies in Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Manitowoc counties. The goal is to identify and document stories that will inform the Museum’s expanded exhibit Wisconsin’s Underwater Treasures, which focuses on the maritime heritage of three counties that border a proposed National Marine Sanctuary.

Art on Tap: Early Wisconsin Brewery Advertising Exhibition & Program


In summer 2016, this exhibition and series of related public programs will explore the early years of Wisconsin’s brewing industry. Covering 50 years of pre-Prohibition history from 1870 until 1920, the exhibition will highlight the development of modern marketing, the history of Milwaukee as a brewing center, and the history of lithography. Public programs will describe the history of taverns, stories of the state’s beer barons, and beer labels.

Harmonia: Eastern European Workshops and Concert


On May 6, the band Harmonia will present an interpretive workshop to middle school students in Mt. Horeb. A second workshop and a concert for the general public will follow on May 7 at Folklore Village. Workshops will investigate the relationships between geography, cultural practices, musical instruments, and songs in Europe and America.

Nights and Days at the Oulu Museum: Where History Comes Alive


For three weeks in summer 2016, elementary school-age students in Bayfield County will explore local and state history. Guided by a master teacher and local experts, students will develop learning kits that will be available for use at the Cultural Center. The South Shore School District will partner in the project. This award was made possible with funds from the Mary H. Rice Foundation.

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