State accepting proposals for second round of Healing Illinois grants

The Illinois Department of Human Services recently launched the 2023-24 season of Healing Illinois, the state's $4.5 million racial healing grant-making initiative.

It kicked off with a virtual discussion earlier this month moderated by Deputy Gov. Grace Hou and featuring: Mark Murray, chief operating officer of the Field Foundation; Dulce Maria Quintero, secretary of Illinois Department of Human Services; Nina Sanchez, co-director of Enrich Chicago; Pamala Silas, associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, and myself.

We talked about a wide range of topics including the national debate about critical race theory and how Illinois schools now are teaching more inclusive history of the Black, Latino, LGBTQ, and Muslim, Asian and Native American communities; book-banning and threats against educators and social justice leaders; disinformation and hate speech; as well as the programs funded by the last round of Healing Illinois grants.

How to apply

Applications now are being accepted for Healing Illinois' 2023-24 grants. For more information on submitting requests for funding, visit item=126503.

Funding priorities for this round are: Racial healing sustainability; narrative change; education and training; and racial healing readiness.

Community engagement should be a key element to any proposed project and/or activity. Projects that consider the intersectionality of race with other factors such as age, gender, class, disability, geography, culture are encouraged. Projects that approach racial healing focused on targeted populations such as maternal health, healthy equity, elderly services and care, parent advocacy, and children and youth are sought.

Information sessions are planned from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Nov. 1 and Nov. 20. Register at item=126503.

To apply visit

Fasting for peace

The Archdiocese of Chicago is calling on Catholics and people of good will to answer Pope Francis' plea to unite for a global day of fasting, penance and prayers on Friday for peace in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, is asking all parishes and worship sites in the diocese dedicate Friday services as Masses for the restoration of peace and justice.

"We mourn the presence of war and pray for the light of peace on this broken world and for mercy and reconciliation among nations," Cupich said. "As we pray for peace in the Middle East and Ukraine, we grieve for the suffering and deaths of our brothers and sisters, and pray for comfort of those with immense grief and fear for their safety."

Special prayers for peace will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

Bilingual teachers

Waubonsee Community College's Adult and Workforce Education Department has been awarded a $29,508 grant by the Dunham Foundation to address a shortage of bilingual teachers in K-12 schools within the college's district.

The grant will provide free career training access to skilled and qualified non-English native speakers, helping them accelerate into a paraprofessional career.

As of October 2022, there were more than 300 vacant positions in bilingual education in Illinois schools, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

In partnership with the Dunham Foundation, Waubonsee launched the Career Bridge initiative as part of its Adult Education program. It is designed for nonnative English speakers with advanced degrees from countries outside the U.S. Participants receive 12 weeks of free English training and will be trained by certified instructors in K-12 schools. The grant covers tuition, child care, transportation, licensing, and credential evaluation fees.

"We have talented individuals in our district who were doctors, lawyers, and engineers in their countries but are unable to secure a professional career in the U.S. due to licensing and certification barriers," said Adam Schauer, dean for Adult and Workforce Education. "We take these skilled individuals and help them utilize their experience for upward career and economic mobility."

This fall, Waubonsee launched two cohorts of eight students each at the Aurora Downtown Campus. The goal is to produce more licensed bilingual paraprofessionals.

Waubonsee's Adult Education program provides English language instruction, high school diploma preparation, and adult academic skills enhancement to community members tuition free. Students come to the college from 49 countries and speak 37 native languages.

Zimbabwean music

The all-women Zimbabwean a cappella quartet Nobuntu will perform Saturday at the Elgin Community College Arts Center.

The performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Blizzard Theatre on ECC's campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, in Elgin.

Nobuntu hails from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Using minimal percussion and traditional instruments, the quartet's energetic performances range from gospel to traditional Zimbabwean-rooted songs, Afro-jazz and authentic dance movements.

Tickets are $37 and can be purchased at or by calling the Box Office at (847) 622-0300.

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