Talking Grants: Meeting With the Institute of Museum and Library Services

During our trip to Washington, D.C., several members of ELE, myself included, had the opportunity to meet with Twinet Kimbrough of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). At this meeting, Dr. Allison Marsh, Shane, Caroline and I had the opportunity to ask questions about the 21st Century Museum Professionals Grant, which ELE is in the process of applying for. This grant is meant to provide funds for activities that improve the knowledge and skills of museum professionals across multiple institutions. This grant would provide much-needed funding for ELE throughout the remainder of the project.

This meeting was helpful in providing insight about what is needed for a successful application for the 21st Century Museum Professionals Grant. The website and application already provided excellent information about what details are needed, but this meeting allowed us to address some specific questions. One of our concerns was how to include our partner institutions. Because ELE is working with multiple institutions, including a federal institution, the National Museum of American History, it is necessary for ELE to identify clearly the nature of partnerships with other institutions. In our conversations with Ms. Kimbrough, she particularly emphasized the need to make it clear that we are not receiving financial support from the National Museum of American History. This is important because an association with the National Museum of American History could be seen as detrimental if not carefully written; if it is appears as though we are receiving federal funds from them, we would be disqualified from consideration for the grant. However, the partnerships with other museums, the Baranov and the Nantucket Historical Association, are important as it indicates the impact ELE will have across multiple institutions.

Another concern that we addressed was the overall budget which, in itself, is an incredibly important part of the application. For this grant, an organization or institution receiving it has to be able to indicate that it has matching funds; however, these matching funds can be considered in kind, such as the time that graduate students and Dr. Marsh devote to the project. Ms. Kimbrough was able to explain how we can determine the value of the work graduate students perform by recording time spent on ELE and providing background information about the graduate students involved. This information will be valuable for writing this grant as it is the only way ELE can match funds as of now. Additionally, we were able to discuss the ways in which the budget can be used and how ELE hopes to allocate its funds. Overall, this was helpful, but it indicated that ELE, as a group, will need to make important decisions in regard to the budget in upcoming months, before the grant’s due date of March 15, 2012.

This meeting with the Institute of Museum and Library Services was a great experience. This is both for the information that it provided for this particular grant and also more generally for the need to be clear and specific for all grants. This meeting was an important developmental opportunity for my fellow graduate students and myself, but it also gave us a great opportunity to have questions answered that will aid in the completion of the 21st Century Museum Professional Grant.

Caitlin Mans 12-28-2011

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