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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 2023

Twin Ports Perceptions: A Look at Two Cities


The City of Superior and the Superior Public Library were awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant in support of a program exploring the varying perceptions of residents of Superior and Duluth, MN, the larger city across the St. Louis River. Using local literature about the two places, moderated discussions with local authors and facilitators will consider common stereotypes about each place and its residents and how a specific regional identity has developed for each place. In advance of the programs, the library will make available booklets with samples from each author’s work.

Celebrating Culture and Community-First Nation’s Storytelling


A Wisconsin Humanities grant supports the partnership of The Building for Kids, Inc. and First Nations Outreach, Inc. to present a variety of traditional stories told by local tribal members to a broad audience over Celebrating Culture and Community Week. Additional partnerships with PBS Wisconsin Education will bring an animated, preview screening about Electa Quinney, Wisconsin’s first schoolteacher and member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, as well as programming related to Molly of Denali as part of further exploration of the variety among First Nations cultures, traditions, and histories.

Thriving in Turbulent Times


Siena Retreat Center in Racine was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant in support of a public forum presented by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, one of the nation’s most renowned spiritual and civil rights leaders. He will discuss resiliency as needed by people involved in the work of racial and economic justice, action that combines justice and love, and his own insights drawn from the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, Black Culture, and global spiritual traditions. The forum will include issues like mass incarceration, environmental justice, and economic inequality and will bring regional activists for racial justice in the southern Wisconsin region together to build stronger networks. It is open to the public.

Victory for Workers in Millwork Capital: 125th Anniversary of Oshkosh Woodworkers Strike


A Wisconsin Humanities grant goes to support a public forum to bring attention to the 1898 Oshkosh woodworkers’ strike and its significance to the history and future of Winnebago County and the nation. Historians and writers will place particular emphasis on the role women played in the strike and an actor will dramatize the historic closing argument by famed attorney, Clarence Darrow. Audience members will discuss the lessons of the strike as they impact industrial relations and working people today in the Fox River Valley and be invited to imagine future educational projects and a memorial around this overlooked history.

Storytelling & Self-Empowerment


Adaptive Community Approach in Waukesha County was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant in support of “Storytelling & Self-Empowerment,” a series of workshops in partnership with Ex Fabula that elicits the unique stories, gifts and voices of adults with disabilities. The series will build on each workshop, while also remaining attuned to the neurodivergent learning styles and varied physical abilities of the storytellers. The series will culminate in two presentations, in which member participants will be encouraged to tell their personal stories. This purposeful storytelling experience will deepen Adaptive Community Approach Program members’ self-understanding and grow their abilities for self-expression as well as impact and inform audience members.

An Anishinaabe Tradition: The 7 Grandfather Teachings at Big Top Chautauqua


Big Top Chautauqua was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant for the creation of a historical docu-musical focused on the principles of character by which all Anishinaabe strive to live, called the Seven Grandfather Teachings. The script and original music will be written by Michael “Laughing Fox” Charette, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In the Anishinaabe culture, storytelling is done in the winter. The creative team, led by Charette, will meet regularly with elders of the tribe who can grant special permission to tell this story. The production will be recorded live for later addition to the catalog of episodes of Tent Show Radio.

Mount Horeb Troll Museum


The Mount Horeb Area Historical Society was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant to better contextualize Mount Horeb’s embrace of trolls in folklore and Norwegian culture. The museum will create a free exhibit and public presentation in the popular Driftless Historium visitor center. Scholars and local historians will help illuminate why and how these mythic creatures became such an important part of Mount Horeb’s community identity.

National Geographic's 'Planet or Plastic?' Exhibition and Educational Programming


The City of Kenosha and the Kenosha Public Museum were awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant to bring National Geographic’s ‘Planet or Plastic?’ exhibition to the city. Through powerful imagery and art, the ‘Planet or Plastic?’ exhibition makes the critical case for finding balance between using this ubiquitous material and protecting our environment. Throughout the exhibition and educational programs, the museum will facilitate community discussions that address how we became dependent on plastics and what we can do on a local level to fix this problem and its impact on our waterways. Additionally, the exhibition and the educational programs will provide actionable steps visitors can take to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse products with single-use plastic, which is aligned with the recycling initiative in Kenosha County.

Northern Wisconsin Heritage Tours


The Eagle River Historical Society was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant for their digital Clio project, Northern Wisconsin Heritage Tours. This collaborative effort organizes and promotes the activities, events, programs, and local heritage tours and attractions across multiple counties in northern Wisconsin. The tours will include historic resorts, historic districts in towns, National Register properties, sites of historic events, and drives through heritage areas, such as Military Road. The site will also link to project partners’ own websites, allowing for the promotion of events at museums, historic homes, tribal centers, libraries, and cultural centers. The completed project will serve local schools, tourists, historians, and lifelong learners for many years to come.

Wisconsin Climate Stories


Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant for Wisconsin Climate Stories, a new program that follows their successful Climate Fast Forward 2022 conference. Driven by questions about who is impacted by climate change, what equitable solutions exist, and how can individuals and organizations contribute to climate change solutions, speakers from rural communities and communities of color will harness the power of storytelling to inspire action. There will be in-person and Zoom sessions about forestry, flooding, human health and ecosystem health, all with an emphasis on urban, rural and BIPOC communities.

Resiliency: Hmong Women’s Mental Health Journeys During the COVID-19 Pandemic


“Resiliency: Hmong Women’s Mental Health Journeys During the COVID-19 Pandemic” is a video project that documents a group of elder Hmong women who came together to create traditional Hmong story cloth quilts and to discuss their experiences overcoming grief, isolation, and mental health challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. A Wisconsin Humanities grant will be used to hire a Hmong American video editor/producer to work with existing raw footage of interviews done by The Hmong Institute, in partnership with the Wisconsin Women’s Council. The project provided a safe and healing process for participants to share their experiences and stories through the cultural practice of creating themes within a “story cloth” or quilt wall hanging. The edited videos will be posted to a page on The Hmong Institute’s website so that when the story cloth/quilt is exhibited, viewers can follow a QR code to view the videos. The story cloth exhibit and QR code to the video will be at the State Capitol in May during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and at more sites to follow.

Heritage Maker’s Market


The Manitowoc County Historical Society was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant in support of their upcoming Heritage Maker’s Market. The market will take place in June and feature craftspeople and artisans who will be juried for historical relevance and accuracy based on their presentation of primary source documentation about crafts such as shoemaking, harness making, fiber arts, broom making, tin smithing, blacksmithing, rosemaling, and more. Visitors of all ages will be able to see, hear, and smell the demonstrations and interact with the skill-keepers of these endangered crafts.

Reedsburg Historic Preservation Commission Website Development and Enhancement – Phase 1


The City of Reedsburg was awarded a Wisconsin Humanities grant in support of phase one of the development of the Reedsburg Historic Preservation Commission website. They will expand their presentation of historic downtown buildings, including the Nishan Chapel, the Masonic Lodge, the former Badger Shirt Company, and the National Sportswear Factory, with 360-degree imagery, links to resources, and stories about the buildings. Funds will also be used to build an interactive virtual exhibit based on a collection of historical items recently donated to the Commission.

Major Grants Awarded in 2023

Northside Community History Collection


A Major Grant supports “Northside Community History Collection – A Visioning and Planning Project to support a Coalition of Neighborhood and Humanities Groups Devoted to Black Milwaukee History.” This long-term project brings together a citywide coalition of community stakeholders and local historians to envision and plan for a unified Northside-wide Black Archive of Lost Spaces available for public access.

Archiving Potawatomi Language Zoom Videos Project


A Major Grant supports “Archiving Potawatomi Language Zoom Videos Project.” With only a few fluent speakers remaining of the Bodéwadmimwen language, this critical project focuses on archiving recorded language lessons from the late Jim Thunder, a beloved Potawatomi elder, culture-bearer, and fluent speaker. The edited videos will be shared on social media to increase accessibility to the Potawatomi language and instill a sense of ownership and investment in the language and culture, while also promoting community building and discussion.

AfterDark: For the Culture

$10,000 to EX FABULA

A Major Grant supports “AfterDark: For the Culture," a project that centers personal storytelling of Black and Brown community members in Milwaukee and intentionally creates a BIPOC affinity space that brings together participants to connect and learn together. Ex Fabula is a community storytelling organization that celebrates the ways that stories both express our common humanity and honor differences because each individual is an expert on their own lived experience. The public slams will highlight the unique lived experiences of BIPOC individuals and affinity storytelling workshops will allow workshop participants to identify and shape their stories.

Ridgeland Area Library Historical Park


A Major Grant supports “Ridgeland Area Library Historical Park," an outdoor gathering space that will connect local, community history to larger historical narratives, like the women’s suffrage movement. Making use of QR codes, the exhibit will share links to interviews with community members. They will also partner with a tribal artist through the St. Croix Tribal Council. The rotating displays will be designed to engage a younger generation in local histories and draw people inside the library to their Historical Room.

The Stories of Waukesha County - Our Agricultural Legacies


A Major Grant supports “The Stories of Waukesha County - Our Agricultural Legacies.” The exhibit will present the diverse stories of farmers past and present while also exploring the evolution of farming practices, the key crops and livestock that were grown and raised, the family members who farmed, those who worked on the farms and the industries and associations that supported the growth of agriculture in the county. There will be two interactive touchscreens for visitors to listen to oral histories, select and view photos, and watch archival and newly created videos that enhance the stories.

Mistakes Do Not Define Who You Are

$10,000 to MY WAY OUT, INC.

A Major Grant supports “Mistakes Do Not Define Who You Are,” a short documentary film to be used by justice-impacted individuals, second-chance employers, and others in order to counter the social biases and barriers that people face in reentering society and the workforce. Community stakeholders, business leaders, human resource executives, and civic organizations will gather for film viewings and discussions facilitated by justice-impacted individuals. My Way Out and its partners have found that hearing the stories and seeing the faces of those who have been impacted by the correctional system is a powerful and effective way to begin discussions about how to create more opportunities and a positive new path for each individual.

Mao Lor Hmong Textiles Exhibition


A Major Grant supports “Mao Lor Hmong Textiles Exhibition,” a presentation of traditional paj ntaub and story cloths by the textile artist Mao Lor, co-curated by historian Chong Moua and artist Ger Xiong. Also on display will be works co-created by Lor and Xiong that demonstrate the innovative and intergenerational aspects of the paj ntaub artform. The interpretive and educational text for the exhibit will be derived from oral histories and programs for school groups and the public will offer insight into the artists’ lives and creative interpretations of personal stories in relation to Hmong history.

Ho-Chunk Nation Traveling Museum Exhibit


A Major Grant supports “Ho-Chunk Nation Traveling Museum Exhibit.” The project brings together the Ho-Chunk Nation Museum and Cultural Center with UW-Madison historians and students to create an exhibit focused on the true culture and diversity of the Ho-Chunk Nation, both locally and otherwise. Research completed by upper-level graduate students will be combined with replica artifacts, narrative text, and visual storytelling. It will first be on display at the Waunakee Public Library, with accompanying discussion programs, and then will travel to other libraries in the South Central system. The Ho-Chunk Nation Museum and Cultural Center will have eventual control over the exhibit.

Underground Railroad Heritage in Racine County


A Major Grant supports the production of a free, web-based mobile tour of twenty-seven locations that share the history of the Underground Railroad and abolitionist activity in Racine County. The journey and story of one individual had a significant effect and ultimately led to Wisconsin ruling the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional. The web app tour will explore how residents of Racine - black and white, poor and wealthy, rural and urban - assisted fugitive enslaved persons to escape to safety and worked towards ending slavery despite personal risk. The mobile tour will establish each trail site as both a “classroom annex” for schoolchildren and a destination for families and growing numbers of Underground Railroad enthusiasts from across the nation.

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.

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