The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently announced $13,800,000 in IMLS CARES Act Grants to support the role of museums and libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. These grants were an element of the supplemental funding that IMLS received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2020.
“While the pandemic’s widespread impact has changed how museums and libraries engage with their communities, it has not stopped them from providing information, education, support, entertainment, and other incredible resources,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We deeply appreciate the work that museums and libraries are doing as they continue their missions in the face of hardship. We urge other funders, local governments, and foundations to partner with their communities to fund more of this critical work and explore additional ways to stabilize these essential organizations now and for the future.”
Funding was announced for 68 projects from museums and libraries, totaling $13,800,00—out of 1,701 applications requesting more than $409 million. Nine ASTC members were awarded a total of $2,339,680:
Children’s Creativity Museum, San Francisco: $149,757 to update, refresh, and retool its existing digital infrastructure to meet the growing needs of informal educators offering at-home STEM educational programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with The Lawrence Hall of Science at University of California, Berkeley, and a cohort of institutions from the National Informal STEM Education Network.
Cincinnati Museum Center: $496,707 to develop a sustainable digital learning model for Greater Cincinnati, working with the Public Library of Cincinnati-Hamilton County to create and deliver Synchronous and Asynchronous Virtual Experiences (SAVE) by expanding digital access and proficiency, increasing digital learning engagement for pre-K through fifth grade students; and promoting engagement of senior adults to lessen social isolation.
Connecticut Science Center, Hartford: $327,695 for making virtual learning a permanent part of the museum’s infrastructure with a new multimedia specialist staff position, supporting virtual classrooms and outreach programming; the creation of a new app that will enable an enhanced onsite experience for visitors and additional engagement when offsite; and exhibit updates and programs on immunology, COVID-19, and the threat of other pandemics.
Explora, Albuquerque, New Mexico: $268,431 for the “Resilience in the Face of Decay” project, which will focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic through a three-part reopening plan, based on equity, diversity, and inclusion—partnering with the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Project ECHO, Navajo Transitional Energy Company, Office of Diné Youth, and others to expand access to STEM-H learning and address the opportunity gap between Native children and their more advantaged peers, a gap that has widened during the pandemic.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York City: $392,515 for producing educator-ready resource sets for virtual synchronous teaching on 20 distinct multidisciplinary topics, with modifications for specific audience types. Each set will be shared on the museum website and with local and state library systems and will include an interactive lesson plan, links to freely available resources, and embedded formative assessment tools.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh: $95,200 to establish its Whiteville, North Carolina, location as the first free, high-speed, wireless, public internet access in Columbus County, North Carolina (“Come for the Wi-Fi. Stay for the Wildlife!”), helping to address digital divide issues in an area where 40% of residents lack home internet.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas: $496,860 for adapting its mobile makerspace program to in-person and virtual formats that require minimal handling of materials by more than one person, delivering STEM education to 45,000 youth from diverse, at-risk populations with high rates of poverty and lower rates of educational attainment in the North Texas region.
SEE Science Center, Manchester, New Hampshire: $79,238 for re-imaging its existing fall field trip program to support the local school system as it adapts to the new reality of online education, converting five existing programs into outreach and virtual formats.
University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Eugene: $93,277 to develop four “take and make” activity kits for youth ages 6–12 who are disproportionately affected by mandated online learning in response to COVID-19—each including a graphic story poster along with activities, materials, and instructions, with some completed displayed at the museum, in libraries, and/or online. Ten thousand kits will be distributed by community partners.