Year End Greetings – December 2021 Newsletter

In Gratitude
To say the least, 2021 was another challenging year for our grantees and other colleagues on a variety of fronts. As a year-end reflection, I’d like to express my gratitude for the way the GDDF board and staff have worked tirelessly to meet the moment. A few key highlights come to mind –

  • A second year of expedited and streamlined grantmaking for over 200 arts organizations in our two regions.
  • Launching our Broadening Narratives collections strategy for museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions, to lift up underrepresented voices and perspectives.
  • Revising our land conservation guidelines in each region to focus on support for climate resilience strategies and more fully integrate approaches that serve diverse communities.
  • Adding a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens to our endowment, adding two major public and private investment funds to our portfolio.

Wishing you health and happiness as we rest and recharge for the coming year.



At its meeting last month, the board approved 49 grants totaling just over $4 million. Most of these are 2- and 3-year grants and half are for general operations. The full list can be viewed here on our website; breakdowns by program area are below.

Eleven collections projects were funded by our new Broadening Narratives grant initiative to illuminate underrepresented stories. We also renewed general operating grants to five advisory groups that assisted with the strategy’s formation. More about each of the projects here.


28 grants totaling over $3 million were awarded to 10 groups in the Chicago region, 17 in the Lowcountry, with one national group doing work in both regions. More details here.

Lowcountry Land Conservation grantmaking strategy

At its November meeting, our board approved a revised conservation strategy that includes the region’s watershed approach, an increased focus on racial equity, and other access and inclusion issues. Stay tuned in early 2022 for more information and an introductory webinar.

Lowcountry Symposium – CALL FOR ART EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 20!

The Foundation is hosting our 3rd biennial Lowcountry Land Conservation Symposium on May 10, 2022 and seeking artwork from Lowcountry artists to use for the branding of the event. Submissions should represent the theme Inclusive Conservation in the Lowcountry: Resilient Communities Working Together. DEADLINE IS MONDAY, DECEMBER 20!

CHI-CAL Rivers Fund

In addition to the new land conservation grants awarded by the Foundation, the Foundation also participates as one of the funder partners in the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund. On November 15th, the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund announced six projects selected to receive $1.2 million in grant funding to restore and protect wildlife habitat, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve access to and use of natural areas and greenspace for communities in the Chicago-Calumet region.  These grants will generate $1.6 million in matching contributions to improve and enhance Chicago-Calumet waterways for a total conservation impact of $2.8 million.
Read here for more details

New Grants Awarded
6 grants totaling about $100,000 over multiple years were awarded to groups in the Chicago region. More details here.

Bystander Intervention Training

We’re pleased to offer Bystander Intervention Training on Wednesday, January 19 from 2-3:30 pm CT REGISTER NOWIn response to the sharp and sustained rise in anti-Asian harassment, Advancing Justice Chicago is partnering with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago and Hollaback! to offer local interactive online bystander intervention training to help people identify hate incidents as they happen and take action safely and effectively. Learn more about how you can protect yourself and play a part in fighting anti-Asian harassment.


Chicago and Lowcountry arts organizations, as well as some GDDF staff, participated in artEquity’s Everyday Justice: Antiracism as Daily Practice in early December and earlier this year. Stay tuned for an exciting 2022 opportunity with artEquity.

Workshops and other resources on our YouTube channel

We just posted a recent panel discussion with some of Chicago’s technically astute arts leaders on digital resources for this current era.And earlier this year, Christena Gunther of the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium presented three webinars on making in-person and virtual arts offerings accesssible.

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