October 1, 2020

IMLS Funds Museum Initiative to Bring Game Design Education to Underserved Teens
National Project Aims to Inspire Resilience, Creativity Among Students in Cities Across America

Photo courtesy of the Games for Change program (circa 2019).

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced an FY 2020 National Leadership Grant for Museums supplemental award to Games for Change that will equip 40 museums in cities critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with the tools to better connect with underserved teens.

“Game Plan” is a national initiative to integrate game design into museum education programs by adapting the methods and materials from the Games for Change Student Challenge. The project aims to provide museum educators with professional development in game design, forge a community of practice, strengthen museum ties to communities, and improve learning outcomes for youth.

Over the course of one year, Games for Change will work with ten museums in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Atlanta. At least 3,000 teens are expected to participate, creating and submitting hundreds of games to the Student Challenge on the theme of resilience.

“Museums are unique facilitators of learning; they can inspire youth to grow from passive learners to co-creators and problem solvers,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of the IMLS Office of Museum Services. “Because of the pandemic, there is greater urgency for museums to come up with innovative ways to rapidly learn from cross-sector partners and peers how to reach and connect with some of their underserved and most vulnerable audiences. This project will not only encourage teens to think creatively about their own health and wellbeing, but how they can be changemakers.”

Participating museums will integrate game design into their outreach and education programs for teens. A cohort of 80 museum educators will take part in professional development opportunities and be trained in game design curricula for youth. Other key components of the project include building a community of practice among museum educators, teaching artists, administrators, and project advisors. Best practices, case studies, and lessons learned will be broadly disseminated across the museum field.

“Over the past five years, Games for Change has trained hundreds of educators and seen thousands of middle and high school students go through our program to become active social impact game designers,” said Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change. “Expanding the program to include museum educators in the hardest hit cities during the COVID-19 pandemic will allow us to serve the young people who are the most vulnerable and ultimately help to elevate these often untold stories of struggle and resilience.”

An advisory committee of experienced museum educators and practitioners will include a leader of national educational committees reflective of the museum field and longstanding leaders from the digital media and learning fields. Together, they will provide input on how to adapt the Games for Change Challenge to museum education programs and performance measurement and evaluation requirements.

The committee involves participants from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Art Education Association, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, Exploratorium, Museum of the Moving Image, American Alliance of Museums Education Committee, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York Hall of Science, UC Irvine, Georgia Institute of Technology, Association of Science-Technology Centers, and iCivics.

The group also plans to share outcomes of the project with the museum field through their respective institutions and networks.

For more information on IMLS grants, please visit imls.gov or sign up for email updates.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of the Games for Change program (circa 2019).

National Leadership Grants for Museums