August 29, 2018


IMLS Press Contact
Elizabeth Holtan,

New Grants to Libraries, Museums, and Partners Fund Sustainable Community Development Work
12 Organizations Pledge More Than $1.8 Million in Matching Funds

Washington, DC— As part of an ongoing initiative to further 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 $1,567,362 through its Community Catalyst Initiative. Institutions receiving the awards are matching them with $1,811,822 in non-federal funds.

The Community Catalyst Initiative, now in its second year of grantmaking, supports approaches for libraries, archives, museums, and other partner organizations to actively co-create, deepen, and sustain collaborative efforts to improve local communities.

“Many museums, libraries and their partners want to contribute their unique knowledge and resources towards achieving a community’s collective vision. Our new grant program tapped into that desire to ‘have a seat at the table’ in improving social wellbeing,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew.

In addition to this funding, each grantee will also benefit from IMLS-funded capacity building and training in Asset Based Community Development, a methodology for sustainable, self-directed development of communities based on identifying the knowledge, skills, and resources of individuals, associations, neighborhoods, and organizations. This additional support aligns with a new goal for IMLS, set forth in its latest strategic plan—to strengthen the capacity of museums and libraries to improve the wellbeing of their communities.

“We received 51 applications requesting $6,456,362 in funding,” said 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.”

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

  • The Mississippi Children’s Museum of Jackson, MS, will collaborate with partners representing medical, social and emotional health fields, and childhood development organizations to improve health outcomes for children in Jackson. Their Wonder of Wellness program aims to offer programming for children and their caregivers that will give them a holistic understanding of healthy family living.
  • Through its “Empowering Maptivists” project, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center of Boston, MA, in collaboration with the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Public Library, will teach high school students to use maps and spatial data as tools for advocacy and change. The project empowers teachers and youth community leaders by teaching them to use Geographic Information Systems and maps to better understand how their communities have changed over time, and how the past impacts the present and future.
  • The National Public Housing Museum, Chicago, IL, will advance the work of its Entrepreneurship Hub, an innovative creative placemaking initiative that invests in the assets of Chicago’s public housing communities. The Hub aims to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs within it public housing communities, leverage the power of the city’s creative class, innovate new models of museum-community collaboration, and transform the public perception of public housing by empowering community member to tell their own stories, while engaging in workforce development and job creation for marginalized communities.
  • The University of Washington’s Information School, in partnership with the Washington State Library, King County Library System, and Echo Glen Children’s Center for Juvenile Rehabilitation in Snoqualmie, will develop a digital arts education program for youth in juvenile rehabilitation. The team will co-design and present a workshop for youth to create concept art and stories for virtual reality and co-curate an exhibition of the art for display in Echo Glen and in the nearby public library, enabling community dialog.

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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Community Catalyst