August 10, 2017


Giuliana Bullard,

IMLS Awards $1.6 Million in Community Catalyst Grants

Washington, DC — As part of a new effort to test and develop museum and library collaborative approaches for bringing about positive community change, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that 12 organizations will receive $1,637,271 through its Community Catalyst grant initiative. Institutions receiving the awards are matching them with $2,345,471 in non-federal funds.

“Many community organizations have unrealized opportunities to contribute their unique strengths and resources toward collaborative efforts to achieve positive community change. Our new grant program tapped into that interest; we received 57 applications requesting $6,678,255 in funding,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “The projects we are funding demonstrate how adaptable the collective impact approach can be for a wide range of organizations tackling a variety of community issues to improve social well-being.”

The Community Catalyst grant initiative seeks to explore the readiness of libraries, archives, museums, and other community organizations to develop models for co-creating, deepening, and sustaining broad-based efforts to engage and serve a local community.

Descriptions of the 12 funded projects are available on the IMLS website. Highlights include:

  • The Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore, MD, and the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s project that will provide much-needed services to low-income Baltimoreans to help them cope with poverty, food insecurity, homelessness and addiction. The Social Worker in the Library initiative will prepare library staff to better handle crisis situations and convert the library’s existing patchwork of partnerships and programs to a consistent array of services.
  • The project of the Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and its partners, including the Buncombe County Public Libraries, to scale the institute’s AmericaServes community impact model into the western region of North Carolina. AmericaServes will be enhanced to encourage libraries to play a more central role in helping military-connected individuals navigate benefits and services provided for them in civilian life.
  • A project of the Lincoln Community Foundation of Lincoln, NE, in partnership with local museums, libraries, and the University of Nebraska State Museum to offer the Lincoln Reads Aloud Program, a community-wide reading aloud initiative. The project will coordinate and expand current successful reading efforts so that their purposes are aligned and their impact is maximized. The project will provide museums and libraries with the resources they will need to extend their reach through reading-oriented complements to exhibits and events.
  • Work by the Woodland Park Zoological Society in Seattle, WA, and several other community organizations to support and engage youth to develop local action plans on climate change. They will engage local community members and stakeholders using community mapping to identify other potential partners to invite to the project, map community assets and needs, and design project activities to align with the data that they gather. The toolkit and results of their project will be shared widely with museums, libraries and community organizations interested in forming similar networks in other regions.

The Community Catalyst grant initiative was designed to include technical assistance on smart growth planning through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks program for some grantees from rural communities and small towns. Additional details about  the Building Blocks components of the program will be announced in the coming months.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Community Catalyst