Route History(Left to right: Route History President Gina Lathan and Vice President Stacy Grundy)

SPRINGFIELD— State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced this week that an $80,047 grant has been awarded to Route History in Springfield as part of the state’s Minority-Owned Business Capital and Infrastructure Program.

Route History is an organization focused on teaching the stories of tragedy, resilience, and triumph of Black people along the Historic Route 66 and in Springfield – stories that serve as a reminder of struggles and consistent perseverance towards excellence in spite of overwhelming systemic racism and injustices. Route History also leverages resources to support sustainable and transformative community projects.

“Route History plays an important role in Springfield, not only by telling the stories that shaped this community, but by taking initiative to help build a brighter future for its children,” Manar said. “At this particular moment in society, Route History’s mission and purpose couldn’t be more important. The state’s investment in Route History will strengthen programs and projects that educate, uplift and empower African-American youth in Springfield.”

"I'm very pleased that Route History will be receiving a Minority-Owned Business Capital and Infrastructure Grant," said Springfield Alderwoman Doris Turner. "They are doing extremely important work regarding race reconciliation and community engagement around Springfield's racial history that has, until this point, been lost."

"Route History is very grateful to be able to use the grant to purchase our building and make property improvements," said Route History President Gina Lathan. "The funds will also support an exhibit in tribute of four Black businessmen who were community leaders in Springfield and assisted with the Underground Railroad. As a local business and neighbor to Abraham Lincoln‘s home, Route History will be able to enhance Springfield’s tourism experience for visitors and local residents, and hire additional staff."

Created by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment, the grants will equip minority-owned firms with resources to create jobs, build capacity, and revitalize properties in underserved communities. Recipients were required to outline project proposals as part of a competitive application process.

In total, the program awarded $11 million in grants to 32 businesses and organizations throughout the state. Grant recipients represent underserved communities across Illinois, as defined by the Community Development Block Grant program.

Individual applicants were eligible to receive up to $500,000 per project, and the amount of the award is based on anticipated costs associated with meeting project requirements and bond guidelines.

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