Funding Alert! Museums for America 2021 Opportunity

Institute of Museum and Library Services – Museums for America

Attention museum folks! If your program is seeking funding to strengthen your museum’s capacity to serve the public, you might be interested in this opportunity. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently opened applications for the Museums for America program grants to support lifelong learning, increase public access, and improve capacity. 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 Museums for America.

What do Museums for America projects look like?

Proposed projects must align with one of three categories:

  1. Lifelong Learning: empowering people of all ages and backgrounds through high-quality, experiential, and cross-disciplinary discovery and education based on current research and best practices. Examples of possible project activities include (but are not limited to) creating and delivering interpretive public programs; forming partnerships with schools to develop programs that support K-12 curricula; and providing professional development or training for educators.
  2. Community Anchors: addressing the needs of communities by leveraging expertise, space, collections, and other resources to strengthen civic engagement and promote livable, sustainable communities. Examples include conducting community-focused planning activities; creating trusted spaces for community learning, debate, and dialogue; and building local partnerships that strengthen community connections.
  3. Collections Stewardship and Access: support for the management, documentation, conservation, long-term preservation, and access to and use of the materials that have been entrusted to museums. Examples include rehousing collections; cataloging, inventorying, documenting, and registering collections; and acquiring, implementing, and enhancing collections management systems.

The IMLS expects to award a total of 120 grants, with awards ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. Based on previous years, the estimated average amount per award is $170,000.

Note that this program requires at least a 1:1 cost share from non-federal sources.

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

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants are museums that, using a professional staff, are organized on a permanent basis for educational, cultural heritage, or aesthetic purposes and regularly exhibit their objects to the general public through facilities that they own or operate; OR a public or private nonprofit that is responsible for the operation of a museum that fits the above description. 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 Museums for America projects have the following characteristics or indicators:

  • Institutional Impact: The project addresses a key goal identified in the institution’s strategic plan.
  • In-Depth Knowledge: The project design reflects a thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about the subject matter.
  • Project-Based Design: The work plan consists of a set of logical, interrelated activities tied directly to addressing the key need or challenge identified in the application.
  • Demonstrable Results: The project generates measurable results that tie 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. 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! While the project categories may vary next year, they will align with objectives from the IMLS strategic plan. The IMLS website has a wealth of resources available, including other funding opportunities.

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