Governor Pritzker addresses racial health disparities with Healing Illinois initiative

Regional News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – Governor J.B. Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton announced today the Healing Illinois initiative in response to the racial disparities highlighted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust (the Trust), the Healing Illinois initiative will provide an opportunity for residents of communities across the state that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to engage in meaningful dialogue. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will oversee the new grant program.

“Healing Illinois is a bold new initiative pioneered by our own Department of Human Services to support meaningful dialogue regarding race and racism – conversations that we must have in order to move us toward the progress we seek,” said Governor Pritzker. “In order to truly fight inequities and build a better, more inclusive Illinois, we have to be able to articulate the history of personal, institutional and structural racism that got us here – and, just as importantly, the modern iterations of personal, institutional and structural racism that hold us back today.

“As a part of my commitment to healing, we’ve allocated $4.5 million to provide grants to community-based organizations of all sizes to help create community-centric, inclusive spaces to talk, learn and grow,” Pritzker continued. “The Chicago Community Trust has stepped up as our intermediary for this work and will be distributing our funds around the state, and I’m genuinely grateful for their assistance.”

“We are dealing with two pandemics—COVID-19 and systemic racism. Healing Illinois will advance the conversation and shine a light on the process of collective healing,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “What we know is hurt people hurt people, and healed people heal people. In Illinois, we are leading the way; moving with all deliberate speed in the direction of justice, equity and opportunity for all.”

IDHS is working with the Trust to distribute $4.5 million in grants to organizations located across the state that will facilitate racial healing activities. Healing Illinois grants will be awarded in two rounds. The application deadline for the first round is Oct. 14; the deadline for the final round is Oct. 30. Organizations can apply once, and all grant applicants must be a 501(c)(3) in good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State and Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) certified.  Organizations that are not GATA-certified, may be eligible to work with an intermediary.  Healing Illinois has identified intermediaries across the state. Additional information on how to apply for grants is available online at

“It requires courage and strength to engage in racial healing activities,” said Grace Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services. Our state and country have had much to grapple with this past year. If we are to learn from the past and strive for a more equitable future, healing and understanding are necessary components of that path forward. Healing Illinois is an opportunity to recognize and understand our common humanity, acknowledge humankind, and build trust amongst communities.”

“Our city, our region and our nation are at a pivotal moment where we must do the work necessary to rebuild stronger than where we started prior to COVID-19,” said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. “We stand committed to working alongside community partners and leaders to dismantle systemic racism and the structures that led to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and Latinx communities and that perpetuate inequity.”

State-funded grants will fund activities in four areas:

•  Promoting Dialogue: conversations to build understanding and empathy.

•  Encouraging Collaboration: activities that bring people together in person or virtually to connect and to act together on a project or idea.

•  Facilitating Learning: activities designed to build or enhance knowledge.

•  Seeding Connection: racial healing circles, peace circles, or restorative justice activities.

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