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Museum Grants for 2017: IMLS Announces Four Grant Program Opportunities

Thursday, September 8, 2016

By IMLS Office of Museum Services

Editor’s Note: The IMLS Office of Museum Services recently published FY 2017 application guidelines for its grant programs. This introductory blog highlights changes to the grant programs from previous years. Stay tuned for subsequent blogs that will highlight specific programs and special interest areas.

Every year, IMLS awards over 200 museum grants through its funding programs. These grants help museums of all sizes and disciplines make an impact within their communities, across states or regions, and at the national level. We support activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning, vital components of livable communities, and good stewards of the nation’s collections. We also help museums emerge as proactive community partners in addressing critical national priorities such as STEM, Early Learning, Workforce Development and more. Some of these grants allow museums to think innovatively, test new ideas and forge new partnerships or take a successfully piloted idea or collaboration to scale for larger impact. We welcome applications for the 2017 grant cycle! Below is a snapshot of our grant programs as well as a list of new features.

Program

Deadline

Award Amount

Description

Museums for America (MFA)

1 December 2016

$5,000-$25,000

Grants at two different funding levels support activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning, vital components of livable communities, and good stewards of the nation’s collections.

$25,001-$500,000
New Cap

National Leadership Grants for Museums (NLG-M)

1 December 2016

$50,000-$1,000,000
(non-research)
New Cap

Grants support projects that address critical needs of the museum field and that have the potential to advance practice in the profession so that museums can improve services for the American public.

$50,000-$1,000,000 (research)
New Cap

$5,000-$50,000 (rapid prototyping)

Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC)

1 December 2016

$5,000-$25,000

Grants at two different funding levels strengthen African American museums by improving care of collections, developing professional management, or providing internship and fellowship opportunities.

$25,001-$150,000

Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program (NANH)

1 December 2016

$5,000-$50,000

Grants to federally recognized tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations enhance museum services to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge.

Here’s what’s new in FY17:

  • Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums is now part of the National Leadership Grants for Museums program. You will find it as a new funding level within NLG-M that supports one-year, rapid prototyping projects budgeted at between $5,000 and $50,000.
  • The cap for MFA has been increased to $500,000, and the cap for NLG-M has been increased to $1,000,000.
  • While the project categories within MFA and NLG-M remain the same—Learning Experiences, Community Anchors, and Collections Stewardship—we have enhanced the descriptions to better meet the needs of the museum sector. Applicants are encouraged to pay close attention to the descriptions and examples of project activities under these project categories.

IMLS’s special interests for F17 MFA and NLG-M

We are encouraging applicants to incorporate the following elements into their projects.

  • Collaboration: Collaborate with and learn from other community-based organizations such as afterschool associations, summer learning programs, early childhood service providers, youth mentoring programs, libraries, archives, universities, and community development organizations. We also encourage cross-sector partnerships.
  • Digital Technology: Deploy new technologies and develop innovative digital tools and platforms that can diversify, strengthen, grow, and sustain the museum’s learning, collections, and community engagement initiatives.
  • Evaluation: Incorporate formative and summative evaluation strategies to learn from projects and build institutional capacity.
  • Professional Development: Create models for professional development of museum staff, volunteers and interns, and ensure the highest standards in all aspects of museum operations. This includes diversifying the museum professional and volunteer workforce, and building the skills of museum staff at all levels, with emphasis on the development of the next generation of museum professionals.
  • Inclusivity: Provide services for diverse and underserved audiences in the community, including but not limited to veterans, military families, immigrants, New Americans, people with special needs, people living in poverty, those in rural communities, people in tribal communities, and people in federally-designated Promise Zones.
  • Interdisciplinary: Incorporate interdisciplinary approaches to museum programming.
  • STEM: Explore STEM-related programs that engage audiences in meaningful inquiry-based interactions with researchers and practitioners.
  • Early Learning: Strengthen early learning best practices in order to better serve families and caregivers with young children, including cross-generational learning opportunities.

Learn more:

  • Refer to the full Notice of Funding Opportunities for details.
  • Use the links in the chart for lists of staff who are ready to answer your questions
  • Participate in museum grant program webinars.
Programs: 
Museum Grants for African American History and Culture
Museums for America
National Leadership Grants for Museums
Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services