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Gaylord And Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Announces Eight Chicago Collections Projects Grant Awardees

The Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation)—which supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina—is proud to announce the 11 recipients of the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative, which aims to fund specific collections projects that bring forward under-represented stories.

This announcement represents the second round of organizations to receive the “Broadening Narratives” grant. All projects promote BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other under-represented groups and viewpoints.

Additionally, the Foundation renewed its $25,000 grant to each of the five “Broadening Narratives” advisory groups that assisted with the formation of the “Broadening Narratives” funding initiative: Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, Chicago Cultural Alliance, the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern Museums Conference.

“While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are overlooked because of decisions based on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the day,” said David Farren, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are thrilled to announce these grant recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections thinking that focuses on telling broader and more inclusive narratives.”

The Chicago-based organizations and projects to be funded by “Broadening Narratives” are:

Bronzeville Black Chicagoan Historical Society (BHS), which will work with a metadata specialist to better understand, code, and describe their collection which has been scattered between several storage units for the past 20 years. Funds will also support BHS’ transition to their newly opened space in the historic Parkway Ballroom building. This work will help create additional historical resources about the African Americans who helped shape Chicago and America be made available to children and a broader audience.

Sherry Williams Bronzeville Historical Society 1049 John Boehm 2021
SHERRY WILLIAMS FOUNDER, Bronzeville Black Chicago Historical Society

“Bronzeville is recognized as one of the most vibrant, historic and culturally important African American communities in Chicago,” said Founder Sherry Williams. “Clearly, the Foundation recognized the importance of preserving our archive holdings and thanks to the “Broadening Narratives” grant, photographs and documents in the archive will soon reach thousands via our new metadata project.”

South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) will conserve and digitize works by Black women artists and organizers affiliated with this important organization. The project will stabilize select artwork and assemblages of historic materials, which will then be digitized and made available on the University of Chicago’s Visual Resources Center and on SSCAC’s website through a platform that creates interactive historical narratives incorporating images from the archives and collections.

Lawrence“Since its founding in 1940 by artists and community members including Dr. Margaret Burroughs, the South Side Community Art Center has always been a haven for the work of Black women as both artistic creators and community organizers,” said Executive Director Monique Brinkman-Hill. “We are especially grateful for the support that will enable us to present their work in its full glory.”

The Chicago History Museum (CHM) will collaborate with community partners to recover and integrate missing voices into its permanent exhibition, Chicago: Crossroads of America, which aims to provide a full representation of the people who are part of Chicago’s history and future. A new signature exhibition will showcase and interpret CHM’s collection in ways that are compelling and accessible to a diverse public and preserve access within the communities represented by avoiding extracting materials from their rightful places.

“The Broadening Narratives initiative is a rare, yet critical, grant model that supports the deep community engagement required for any organization hoping to reflect our history back to us in meaningful and accessible ways,” said Senior Vice President John Russick. “We are grateful for the support of the Foundation and understand the responsibility we carry as the city’s history museum to seek and share a full and inclusive story of Chicago.”

Other awardees include: Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) – a 49-year-old organization that has contracted artists to create murals across a span of Chicago neighborhoods and gave birth to the Chicago mural movement.

Lewis University was selected by the Council of Independent Colleges to join a collaborative group that will surface the unheard narratives of Black communities along the Illinois and Michigan Canal, with an emphasis on Joliet, as part of the Legacies of American Slavery project–two photos shown below:

1963 A woman peacefully advocates for hiring of African Americans in downtown Joliet business
1963 A WOMAN peacefully advocates for hiring of African Americans in downtown Joliet business.
Pastor Officers and Heads of Departments from the Second Baptist Church
PASTOR, OFFICERS, AND Heads of Departments from the Second Baptist Church.

The Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) will enhance its oral history project, Muslim American Journeys, with additional stories from Chicago’s Black Muslim community. In addition to recording up to 10 new interviews, MALA will revisit past Chicago interviewees to record updated testimonials.

Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA) will plan for the expansion of its El Archivo Project with images and stories of Chicago’s Puerto Rican/Latinx LGBTQ community, in partnership with the Association of Latinx Action (ALMA), Chicago’s only Latinx LGBTQ organization.

Trickster Cultural Center – a creative and community hub for Native peoples in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs – will create a series of videos that document the traditional use of plants in Native American healing and wellness practices.

Organizations and projects located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina will also receive the “Broadening Narratives” grants.

For more information and a complete release about the above-mentioned organizations, as well as information about the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit


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