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November 9, 2023

Coles County Peace and Justice Fund awards grants for 2023

Pictured from L – R: Bruce Karmazin, Mattoon Jewish Community Center member, Todd Krost , Pastor of Mattoon First United Methodist Church, Tanaya Higginbotham, Executive Director of The RealiTea Project, Jean Mertz, a student of ClassE, Nancy Crone, Book Table organizer for One Stop Community Christmas, Kristen Bertrand, Program Officer, SICF

(MATTOON, Illinois – November 8, 2023) Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation is thrilled to unveil the recipients of the Coles County Peace and Justice Fund for 2023. This year’s grantees are One Stop Community Christmas – Book Table, the Mattoon Jewish Community Center and The RealiTea ProjecT, Inc.

One Stop Community Christmas – Book Table received full funding of the grant request equaling $2,500 to support the “Social Justice Books for Disadvantaged Children.” The grant will provide funding for purchasing books related to social justice, human rights, religious tolerance, and environmental protection for children. The Children’s Book Table, coordinated by volunteer Nancy Crone, aims to foster prosocial attitudes through the gift of books. More details about their impactful work can be found at

The Mattoon Jewish Community Center receives $2,750 to bolster their unique interfaith community event, “Shalom, Mattoon.” This initiative, a collaboration between the local Jewish congregation and the United Methodist Church of Mattoon, focuses on fostering unity and cultural exchange through a community Seder in spring 2024. The event stands as a beacon of inclusivity and interfaith dialogue in times of division.

The RealiTea ProjecT, Inc. is granted $5,000 for their “4th Annual Juneteenth Celebration.” This annual event serves as a poignant commemoration of the liberation of African Americans from slavery. Through a partnership rooted in shared values, the celebration actively promotes the building of cross-cultural community relations by offering a rich tapestry of diverse cultural experiences. This inclusive celebration, free and open to the public, has not only become a significant annual event for Coles County but has also garnered positive exposure for the community. Taneya Higginbotham, the lead organizer of the event, plays a pivotal role in coordinating planning meetings with members of the Faith Alliance for Racial Justice, volunteers, and advertising. Furthermore, she adeptly manages all logistics related to the implementation of the event. For more details, visit

The Coles County Peace and Justice Fund, managed by Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation, aims to encourage mutual trust and promote cross-cultural understanding in matters of social justice, human rights, religious tolerance, and environmental protection. For further details, please contact Kristen Bertrand, Program Officer, at 217.342.5413 or

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