Cook County Starting Blocks Grant

Cook County Starting Blocks Grant

Application Due Date: Fri., Sept. 8th

Starting Block Grants will provide up to $100,000 over two years to small organizations looking to build internal capacity and develop their infrastructure to promote organizational health, growth and sustainability. The grant opportunity is open to community-based organizations in diverse sectors, including Arts and Culture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Violence Prevention.

Meet June Town Hall Guest Speaker, AMM Executive Director, Charity M. Counts

Meet June Town Hall Guest Speaker, AMM Executive Director, Charity M. Counts

Our guest speaker for June will be Charity M. Counts. Charity serves as the executive director of the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM), a regional service organization focused on advocating for and connecting museum professionals in the Midwest to a network of colleagues, resources and capacity-building training. Prior to leading AMM, Charity worked in museums for 15 years in a variety of roles. Here career began at a mid-size museum called Minnetrista located in Muncie, IN, where she served in collections and exhibits roles, and her most recent museum role was the associate vice president of exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.Join Charity at this month’s town hall to learn more about AMM and its services, the cross-regional Museum Learning Hub resource, and to engage in a brief discussion of needs.

Please register for our June 2024 Town Hall Here or on the right-side of your MemberWire portal homepage
Meet Town Hall Guest Speaker: Jill Austin, NEH Senior Program Officer in the Division of Public Programs

Meet Town Hall Guest Speaker: Jill Austin, NEH Senior Program Officer in the Division of Public Programs

Our guest speaker for May will be Jill Austin, who is the Senior Program Officer in the Division of Public Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She arrived at NEH in 2015 after two decades of work in museums and nonprofits that serve museums. Prior to her role at NEH, Austin was a curator at the Chicago History Museum (CHM) for ten years. Previously, Austin served as a curator of social history at Detroit Historical Museums and was an exhibition and publication coordinator at Exhibitions International, a New York-based traveling exhibitions firm that specialized in design and the decorative arts.
Public Impact Projects at Smaller Organizations grant program
Awards up to $25,000 for 1- to 2-year projects
Deadline June 12 for projects starting March 1-May 1, 2025
Small and mid-sized cultural organizations are keepers of history and culture, sources of lifelong learning, and community place makers. Public Impact Projects grants seek to assist smaller organizations in meeting their community’s needs by expanding the scope, reach, and excellence of their public programs.
Please register for our May 2024 Town Hall Here or on the right-side of your Memberwire portal homepage
The 2024 Outstanding Community Leader Awardees Have Been Announced!

The 2024 Outstanding Community Leader Awardees Have Been Announced!

We are thrilled to announce that Billy Ocasio and Dr. Ramón García have been voted the 2024 Outstanding Community Leader Award recipients!

Nomination statement from the Board of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (edited):
“Mr. Ocasio’s dedication to the Puerto Rican community in Humboldt Park and Chicago over the past 30+ years has been nothing short of remarkable. From spearheading affordable housing initiatives and the development of the iconic Paseo Boricua flags and Puerto Rican streetscape to founding the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, his vision and leadership have transformed and empowered the community.”

Nomination statement from the Dominican American Midwest Association (edited):
“Dr. Ramón García has been instrumental in advancing the Dominican American Midwest Association’s mission of empowering Dominicans across various facets like culture, education, politics, and economics since its founding in 1999. His establishment of the Dr. Ramón García Educational Award has provided critical support for students to pursue higher education and community development.”

Please join us in celebrating these exceptional community leaders and their tireless work to create positive change! The Chicago Cultural Alliance will recognize Billy Ocasio and Dr. Ramón García as the 2024 Outstanding Community Leaders during the awards ceremony of the 2024 MOSAIC Gala this summer.

View Previous Awardees

Registration for Activating Heritage 2024 Is Open!

Registration for Activating Heritage 2024 Is Open!

Please note: Online registration closes on Tuesday 3/5 at 9:00am, but we will still accept walk-in registrations so if you miss the window to register online you can do so in person on Tuesday!

Activating Heritage is the Alliance’s annual professional development conference for cultural heritage and non-profit professionals. The conference connects our Core Members and other arts & culture workers from across the Chicago region with meaningful, hands-on, capacity-building experiences facilitated by a host of scholars and leaders in the field, through dynamic presentations, panels, and workshops. We enthusiastically encourage participation from members of the community as well. The conference will also be of interest to students (both undergraduate and graduate), historians, and anyone else interested in learning more about community engagements with culture.


United with a diverse and accomplished array of panelists, moderators, community stakeholders, and industry professionals, we will delve into broader and deeper conversations surrounding advocacy, fundraising, museum collections, preservation, programming, digitizing, virtual exhibitions, education, and the next generation of arts and cultural heritage professionals.


Register Now


**Note for CCA Core Members: We have registration waivers for any core members who would like to attend but are facing financial hardship. Email [email protected] with the subject “Registration Waiver” and a list of the registrant names, email addresses, and the name of your organization and a representative will be in touch.

2024 Outstanding Community Leader Award Nominations

2024 Outstanding Community Leader Award Nominations

Deadline: December 31, 2023

It’s the time of year when we ask our Core Members to nominate individuals who they feel have been integral to the work and representation of their communities. OCLA Winners are given two complimentary tickets to the annual gala and are presented with the award during the MOSAIC program, and are also invited to select a cultural presentation to perform during the gala. The ceremony will be a very public platform for them to talk about their work/the center’s work and to reach a new audience of supporters.

Outstanding Community Leaders are figures who help bring more visibility to their communities, embrace the values of inclusion and tolerance, pioneer new ideas, and are empathetic and understanding to all people. An OCL can be anyone! Is there an artist or performer who’s work is raising the voice of your community? Maybe a leader on your staff who is going above and beyond to advocate for and protect cultural heritage? Or maybe there’s a super volunteer who has been loyal and dedicated to your organization and community for years who deserves recognition! Let’s celebrate them.

Any staff from CCA Core Member organizations is eligible to submit a nomination, so please take the time to recognize the incredible leaders in your community!

A list of previous Awardees can be found on our website here. Core Members whose nominee was selected for the award between 2021-2023 are asked to withhold nominations to allow for greater Core Member representation.

Please reach out to our Programs Manager, Sarah Cameron ([email protected]) with any questions.