Institute of Museum and Library Services: Museums Empowered — Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff – A Museums for America Special Initiative
The goal of the Museums for America (MFA) program is to support projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special MFA initiative with the goal of strengthening the ability of an individual museum to serve its public through professional development activities that cross-cut various departments to generate systemic change within the museum.
To support and empower museums of all sizes and disciplines in responding to the evolving needs of the museum profession and changes in their communities, this MFA special initiative has four project categories for professional development:
- Digital technology: Grants support the work of museums in adopting and adapting the use of existing and emerging digital technology to transform audience engagement, collections care and management, communication, and general operations. Recognizing the transformative and pervasive nature of digital technology, the MFA initiative welcomes applications to develop training and professional development learning opportunities for museum staff to fully explore, understand, and optimize the use of digital technology in museums.
- Diversity and inclusion: Grants support the work of museums in engaging with communities and providing inclusive services to people of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds and to individuals with disabilities. Recognizing the changing demographics across the nation, the MFA initiative welcomes applications for staff professional development and museum capacity building projects that increase cultural competency within a museum and support relevancy through projects that connect, engage, and strengthen the museum’s ties with diverse communities.
- Evaluation: Grants support the use of robust formative and summative evaluation of museum programs, practices, and products to help museums best serve their audiences and demonstrate their impact to stakeholders. Recognizing the many challenges and resources needed to develop and sustain an evaluation program, the MFA initiative welcomes applications that will help a museum expand its evaluation capacity by providing training and professional development opportunities in audience research and evaluation for museum staff. Projects may use new tools, software, training, or consultants to develop a strong and integrated museum evaluation program. Evaluation activities should incorporate both quantitative and qualitative data, indicators, and impact.
- Organizational management: Grants support museums’ efforts to develop resilient organizations with the goal of long-term sustainability and relevancy. The MFA initiative welcomes applications to develop training and professional development opportunities for museum staff to learn best practices in organizational management, strategic thinking, embracing innovation, and managing change in order to foster continued growth, relevancy, and vitality. Projects may use replicable models within the museum field as well as look beyond the museum field for transferrable techniques and strategies to build the capacity of the museum and support its long-term sustainability.
Amount: A total of $2,000,000 is available to make up to 28 grants with grants ranging from $5,000-$250,000 and averaging $71,428. Grants that range from $5,000-$25,000 do not require a cost share, while grants that range from $25,001-$250,000 must include at least a 1:1 cost share.
Eligibility: Applicants must qualify as one of the following:
- A museum that, using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes; owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; cares for these objects; and exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities that it owns or operates.
- A public or private nonprofit agency which is responsible for the operation of a museum that meets the eligibility criteria detailed above.
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