Funding Alert! 2021 Museum Grants

Institute of Museum and Library Services – Museum Grants for African American History and Culture

Attention museum folks – another opportunity for you this week! If your institution is an African American museum looking for capacity-building and/or staff professional development opportunities, you might be interested in this funding program. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently opened applications for the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) program to nurture museum professionals, build institutional capacity, and increase access to museum and archival collections at African American museums and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The mission of the IMLS is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. The agency accomplishes this through research, policy and development, and grantmaking opportunities such as AAHC.

What do AAHC projects look like?

Applicants are not required to choose a specific project category for this program. As long as the proposed projects meet the goals of the AHHC program, they may include activities such as (but not limited to) those described below.

  • Building Capacity: Projects should adopt and share best practices for capacity-building activities that ensure high standards of museum practices and operations. Examples of possible project activities include increasing the number of staff in order to better deliver programming, improve museum operations, or enhance care of the museum’s collections; cataloging, inventorying, documenting ,and registering collections; exhibition development, design, and fabrication; and designing and printing educational materials that support programming and exhibitions.
  • Staff Development: Projects should seek opportunities that support growth and development across all levels of museum staff. Examples include hosting paid internships; providing professional development opportunities for staff, leadership, and volunteers; and fostering partnerships with leaders in institutions of higher education to identify and address the challenges that African American museums face.

The IMLS expects to award a total of 22 grants, with awards ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. Based on previous years, the estimated average funding amount is $124,000.

Note that if the project requests between $50,001 and $250,000, this program requires at least a 1:1 cost share from non-federal sources. There is no cost share requirement if the request for funding is between $5,000 and $50,000.

All funded projects must begin on July 1, 2021. Projects may be carried out over a period of one to three years.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants are museums whose primary purposes are African American life, art, history, and/or culture. IMLS defines a “museum” as an institution that uses a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for educational, cultural heritage, or aesthetic purposes, and regularly exhibits its objects to the general public through facilities that it owns or operates; OR a public or private nonprofit that is responsible for the operation of a museum that fits the above description. Museum service organizations whose primary purposes are to support museums that focus on African American life, art, history, and/or culture, as well as HBCUs (as defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965) are also eligible to apply. For more details on the types of institutions included in the term “museum,” please see the Notice of Funding Opportunity, page 7.

What makes a project a good fit?

Successful AAHC projects have the following characteristics or indicators:

  • Institutional Impact: The project builds museum capacity and/or supports staff professional development in African American museums and/or HBCUs.
  • In-Depth Knowledge: The project design demonstrates a thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about its subject matter.
  • Project-Based Design: The work plan is made up of logical, interrelated activities tied directly to addressing the proposal’s key need or challenge.
  • Demonstrable Results: The project produces measurable results tied directly to the need or challenge it was designed to address.

You can also browse examples of projects that have been previously funded by this program.

What if I am ready to apply? Proposals are due November 16, 2020. To move your application forward, take the following action steps ASAP:

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. We not only have experience with IMLS grants, but we also have a grant writer on staff with a degree in art history.  If you would like to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Rosie Brennan, Community Engagement Specialist will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you a quote for grant services.

What if I am not ready to apply this year?

This is an annual opportunity, so start planning for next year! The IMLS website has a wealth of resources available, including other funding opportunities for museums in the United States.

Competency #1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs

Skill 1.2: Identify major trends in public funding and public policy

Skill 1.6: Identify fundable programs and projects for specific organization

Skill 1.7: Determine best matches between funders and specific programs