Funding Alert! 2022 Grants for African American Museums

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Last week, we featured the annual Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America funding opportunity, which supports project-based initiatives for museums of all sizes and disciplines. This week, we’re taking a closer look at an IMLS program that specifically supports capacity-building efforts of African American museums and/or archival collections at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) program provides funding for eligible museums to increase workforce capacity, provide staff with professional development opportunities, and improve access to collections through a variety of eligible activities.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants are domestic museums with a primary purpose (reflected in its mission) of African American life, history, and/or culture; the period of slavery; the era of Reconstruction; the Harlem renaissance, the civil rights movement; and other periods of the African American diaspora. In addition, eligible applicants use a professional staff; are organized permanently for educational, cultural heritage, or aesthetic purposes; and regularly exhibit their objects to the general public through facilities that they own or operate. Other eligible applicants include public or private nonprofits that are responsible for the operation of museums that fit the above description or an HBCU. For more details on the types of institutions included in the term “museum,” please see the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), pages 5-7.

IMLS encourages collaboration among multiple entities. The lead applicant must meet the eligibility requirements described above and assume the programmatic, fiscal, and legal project responsibilities.

What are the program details?

AAHC projects should have the potential to build capacity of African American museums and support the growth and development of their staff. Projects submitted to the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture program must align with one of these two agency-level goals (and at least one of their associated objectives, as described in the NOFO) to advance the museum field:

  1. Build the capacity of African American museums and their ability to serve their communities. Objectives and activities could include developing, enhancing, or expanding public programs, exhibitions, or school programs; enhancing management; improving collections care and access; and/or fostering partnerships and collaborations among museums and institutions of higher education.
  2. Support the growth and development of museum professionals at African American museums. Objectives and activities could include developing and implementing internship, fellowship, and mentoring programs for emerging museum professionals; developing and implementing equitable and inclusive staff recruitment/retention programs; and/or creating learning and growth opportunities to build skills, enhance knowledge, and share expertise.

As with the MFA program, AAHC applicants may define the appropriate project type, scope, target population, and relevant activities for their proposed project.

IMLS expects to award a total of 26 grants, with awards ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 (Small Project category) or $50,001 to $250,000 (Large Project category). Based on previous years, the estimated average amount per award is $124,136. Applicants applying under the Small Project category may only submit one proposal, while those applying to the Large Project category may submit multiple proposals. Note that for proposals submitted to the Large Project category, IMLS requires a 1:1 cost share from non-federal sources.

Proposals are due November 15, 2021. All funded projects must begin on July 1, 2022. Projects may be carried out over a period of one to three years.

What makes a project a good fit?

Proposals submitted under this solicitation should have the potential to advance the museum profession, specifically for African American museums, and the quality of services offered to the American public. IMLS will evaluate the success of projects based on their effectiveness in achieving the intended results, efficiency in using resources to generate maximum value, and the quality and timeliness of the activities performed.

Applicants should also seek to implement innovative and best practices for skill- and capacity-building program activities that increase workforce capacity. These activities should be applicable to all levels of staff at African American museums.

What if I am ready to apply? To move your application forward, take the following action steps ASAP:

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services (AGS) today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. 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?

Start planning for next year, or browse other opportunities to work with IMLS. The agency website provides resources regarding other upcoming grant programs, partnerships, and funding opportunities, as well as examples of previously funded projects. You can also read through our past Funding Friday posts about other IMLS opportunities.

How do I learn more about federal grant proposal writing, so my application is more likely to be successful?

AGS is excited to offer a new Federal Grants Training Series throughout 2021! The series is designed to support nonprofit leaders and faculty at institutions of higher education before and during the application process. AGS also offers several on demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

AGS blogs, funding alerts, and trainings are aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills

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