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!

Major Grants Awarded in 2023

Journey The Atlantic (Viajando el Atlántico)


A Major Grants supports “Viajando el Atlántico,” a series of immersive educational workshops for Milwaukee-area students. The program features music within a curriculum that explores the shared histories between Africa and Latinx regions. This program gives students the opportunity to explore their unique identities as Americans and as youth of color who are part of this diaspora. It culminates in community showcases in which guest artists perform with students. Bembe’s programming fills a void in cultural representation and provides targeted support designed to increase knowledge and awareness of African and Latinx cultures, work toward equity for students of color, and foster community engagement through music, drumming, and dance.

When Rubber Hit The Road: The Loss and Legacy of Uniroyal

$9,343 to UW-EAU CLAIRE

A Major Grant supports “When Rubber Hit The Road: The Loss and Legacy of Uniroyal,” a documentary film about the closing of the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company in Eau Claire in1992. The film explores how people worked together to save their city in the aftermath of the closure, which spelled the loss of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs. Part history, part human-interest story, the documentary will use historical footage and photographs alongside new interviews with people involved. The story weaves together the city’s past and present in search of its economic and cultural future.

Cloth As Land: Hmong Indigeneity


A Major grant supports an exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center called "Cloth as Land: Hmong Indigeneity." Curated by Pachia Vang, a scholar and leader in the Hmong arts community, the exhibition will present Hmong textile arts through a lens of "teb chaws,” which translates as longing for earth, country, and land. Almost fifty years after the U.S. withdrawal from the war in Vietnam, the Hmong—who aided the U.S. forces and then had to flee to safety—continue to hold an intense sense of loss and a yearning for homeland. The exhibition brings together a selection from JMKAC’s collection of Hmong textiles (dated 1930s to 1980s) in conversation with the work of four contemporary Hmong American artists: Tshab Her, Ger Xiong, Sieng Lee, and Pao Houa Her. Related programs include three artist residencies, a panel discussion, and a convening of Hmong artists, scholars, and community members.

Enduring Families Project: Children’s Stories


A Major Grant supports elementary school teachers in completing Essential Questions Training to support classroom discussion and the use of primary and secondary documents in relation to eight new historical storybooks. These storybooks depict the resilient and engaging lives of African American settler children in the La Crosse area. The project is designed to provide literature and coloring books in which children of color can see themselves in the early history of La Crosse and more accurately represent the early history of this river settlement. The project includes a workshop led by Dr. Richard Breaux about how to find and use primary sources for curriculum lessons in addition to many public readings of the eight books across historical societies, libraries, and schools.

Thursday Think & Drink


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum will use a Major Grant to relaunch a monthly speaker series featuring diverse voices and perspectives from World War II. The pandemic disrupted all museum operations and temporarily discontinued adult programs. This year, the museum will again host ten Thursday Think & Drink events, each featuring a humanities expert who will share interesting and often overlooked stories from World War II, including the development of wheelchair basketball and Wisconsin's role in Japanese internment. Digital streaming and archives of the programs will increase access to people who may not be able to travel to the museum to attend in person.

Ridges & Rivers Book Festival


The McIntosh Memorial Library, in partnership with the Driftless Writing Center, received a Major Grant to enhance the cultural richness of the Ridges & Rivers Book Festival. The three-day event in Vernon County brings together authors, writers, illustrators, storytellers, and representatives from small presses to celebrate reading, writing, and creativity. Themes over the weekend investigate who we are as Wisconsinites, immigrants, and neighbors. Grant funds will be used to enrich the festival with an interactive youth and family workshop and a keynote presentation from author Kao Kalia Yang, a Hmong American writer whose books include The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir and The Song Poet. Programs will also discuss Norwegian immigration to Western Wisconsin. Since April is National Poetry Month, the final day of the festival will include special poetry events.

23 Harvest Folk Festival

$10,000 to UW-MADISON

Allen Centennial Garden on the UW-Madison campus will present a Harvest Folk Festival that focuses on the seeds that make the harvest possible. The event features a main stage with music, dancing, food demonstrations, and storytelling from Indigenous, Hmong, African American, Latinx, and European cultures. Student exhibits will share many seed saving and harvest traditions and visitors will be invited to join processes like shelling beans and braiding corn. These entertaining and informative activities will provide opportunities for event participants to examine their own cultural traditions around food and harvests and to learn more about how these traditions compare to those celebrated by other cultures. Additionally, volunteers will facilitate seed sharing and reflection activities designed to emphasize the importance of seeds in providing sustenance, as well as symbolizing a renewal of our relationship to our heritage, our neighbors, and the elements that sustain us.

Revolutionary Art Criticism Residency


Woodland Pattern Book Center, in collaboration with Genre: Urban Arts, received a Major Grant for
“The Revolutionary Art Criticism Residency (RACR).” Established in 2021 by Woodland Pattern board member Nakeysha Roberts Washington, the Residency seeks to remedy a lack of BIPOC representation in art criticism. Participants will work as part of intimate cohorts to develop their voices, offer their perspectives, and establish their skills in the world of art criticism. BIPOC writers and audiences will be encouraged to use their own experiences, traditions, individual vantage points, and personally relevant frameworks to deconstruct and digest artworks in ways that bring cultural competency to the art world.

Fashion For a Cause


A Major Grant supports the work of WUCMAA in providing regional, intentional spaces for community members to gather, learn and teach Hmong needlework and sewing. The project seeks to create a platform for aspiring Hmong fashion designers in Wisconsin to showcase their work and vision through the lens of mental health and culture. The history of Hmong needlework involves both ancient traditions and more recent adaptations made during long years of survival in refugee camps. The project pairs local historical and preservation experts with current designers and craftspeople to consider the past and future of Hmong fashion. The project will culminate with a first of its kind statewide Hmong fashion show.

Shakespeare in the Parks: Macbeth


Summit Players Theatre will offer abbreviated, authentic performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at twenty-three state parks across Wisconsin in 2023. A Major Grant supports the free, inclusive programs, which introduce audiences of all ages to the classic language and storyline of Macbeth through playful, engaging, and entertaining activities before each performance. Summit Players Theatre works to remove obstacles for those with little exposure to Shakespeare or theatre in general, creating a moving and collective experience that can be understood and enjoyed by anyone.

Everyone is Welcome


A Major Grant supports a free, public dance performance choreographed and presented in Forest Home Cemetery and Arboretum in Milwaukee's Southside Lincoln Village neighborhood by twenty diverse artists representing the histories, cultures, and present-day stories of people buried in the cemetery. Audiences will be guided through the cemetery by Milwaukee historian, John Gurda, to discover dance performances along the way. Crafted as a moving narrative of Milwaukee’s diverse history, the performances will take place in relevant locations, such as among the statuary of Black leaders, near mounds made by people indigenous to the area, on an island reserved for Hmong burials, in the Lady of Guadalupe gardens, and by the headstone honoring the only recorded lynching victim in the city’s history. The choreography will explore burial customs and rituals of respect, honor, and belonging. The hour-long program will culminate with a dance inspired by the Lincoln Village community.