SJR Article - Organizations gear up for impactful change with the Healing Illinois initiative

Gearing Up for Impactful Change: Healing Illinois Initiative Gains Momentum

By Scott Jones, Director of Community Initiatives, United Way of Central IllinoisScott Jones

January 21, 2024 - Originally published in the State Journal Register. Click here to view on their website.


The collaboration between United Way of Central Illinois, the Field Foundation, and the State of Illinois Department of Human Services Healing Illinois initiative is set to enter an exciting new phase. With the initiative gaining traction, United Way has received an overwhelming response, receiving 26 applications from a diverse group of organizations across Region 4 eager to participate in the racial healing initiative.

These applications mark a significant milestone in the progress of Healing Illinois, showcasing the widespread enthusiasm and commitment among organizations to be part of this transformative movement. The organizations hail from various corners of the 28 county area from as far east as Adams County and as far west as Edgar County, representing a diverse representation of communities that are eager to engage in activities focused on racial healing and equity.

"We are thrilled to see such a robust response from organizations across Region 4 in a short application window," remarked Marne Fauser, President and CEO of United Way of Central Illinois. "The enthusiasm and commitment displayed by these applications are a testament to the collective dedication to fostering racial healing and equity in our communities."

The next steps for the Region 4 Healing Illinois committee involve reviewing these applications diligently and selecting the most impactful projects that align with the objectives of Healing Illinois. The Region 4 committee is comprised of nine people from Adams, Effingham, Macon, and Sangamon counties.  The organizations that have submitted proposals will be notified by the end of January regarding the status of their applications.

The applications themselves have a varied set of approaches and strategies aimed at fostering racial healing and equity. Application requests totaled $600,000, and there is a little over half that amount in grant funding to be allocated. From educational programs to community engagement initiatives and awareness campaigns, these proposals reflect a collective desire to address systemic issues and work towards a more just and equitable society.

Moreover, the range of organizations applying underscores the broad support and involvement across various sectors—non-profits, educational institutions, grassroots organizations, and more—underscoring the shared commitment to drive positive change.

As the review process progresses, the anticipation for the Healing Illinois initiative continues to grow. The impact of these projects is expected to extend far beyond the organizations that proposed them, resonating throughout the communities they serve and contributing to a more united, empathetic, and equitable Illinois.


A Call for Collective ActionHealing IL logo

With the selection process underway and the promise of impactful projects on the horizon, the Region 4 Healing Illinois Committee would like to extend an invitation to the community at large. The Healing Illinois initiative is not solely the responsibility of a few organizations—it is a collective effort that requires widespread participation and support.

"We invite everyone in the communities represented in Region 4 to participate in activities supported by the work of the Healing Illinois initiatives." emphasized Marne Fauser. "Whether through participation in events, engaging in meaningful conversations, or attending a training, every contribution matters in shaping a more inclusive and understanding society."

The collaborative efforts between United Way of Central Illinois, the Field Foundation of Illinois, IDHS, and the numerous organizations applying for support represent a powerful force for change—one that promises to make a lasting impact on communities across the region. As funds are allocated, the anticipation and excitement for the transformative potential of Healing Illinois continue to build. With united efforts and a shared vision, the journey towards racial healing and equity in Illinois is well underway, with the promise of a brighter and more equitable future for all.


Scott Jones is the Director of Community Initiatives at United Way of Central Illinois. You can find out more information about the Healing Illinois initiative in Region 4 at