The Bass Museum of Art and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science join the ranks of 30 organizations to win grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which aims to help recipients continue and strengthen family engagement initiatives.
The competition was stiff, with more than 1,130 organizations vying for grants. The requests totaled $500 million, the most ever received for a single funding opportunity in the 83-year history of the foundation. In the end, the 30 organizations chosen received $13.7 million.
The Bass Museum of Art's $500,000 grant goes toward the IDEA@thebass Educational Program. The enhanced program builds on existing arts education experiences, contributing to children's development through art. These programs aim to expand children's creativity and support positive growth.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science's $449,957 grant funds the Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) Family Engagement. Hoping to inspire the community to love, explore, and utilize science and technology, the museum proposed ECHOS as a way to engage many different learning styles and interests. The method includes 10 geographically-diverse, model training sites to help children prepare for school. The program also hopes to become a social network for families.
The foundation believes these two organizations share their commitment to "a shared responsibility between families, schools, and communities for student learning and achievement."
Felicia DeHaney, the foundation's director of education and learning, said the original overall investment amount was going to be much smaller.
"It was [going] to be up to a $5 million investment this year," she said. "It was wonderful. We never imagined that so many folks would reply, but we knew this was a need."
The final $13.7 million is obviously much more than the proposed $5 million, but DeHaney feels the grants are worth every penny.
"It's a great investment," she said. "I think both of them had very unique and innovative ways of working with children and families."
DeHaney said their emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) was a big push for funding, as well as their use of Head-Start programs and overall integration with the community.
Through parent awareness, training, and professional development, the programs aim to break down any anxiety about science and technology.
"[They addressed] those fears that parents come with, [which] could possibly be one of the barriers to our children of color and children who are not entering that field," she said. "They did it in a collective way, with both children and families, and really pushed the museum as a community hub to bring this work together."
Engaging children through families is the core of the foundation's hopes.
"Children don't come without families," she said. "We see family engagement as not only an intricate part, but a natural part of doing work with children. The closest thing that children have is their family, that safety net of folks who protect them and make them feel good. We truly believe that having schools and systems understand, and actually authentically value the parent's role in [child development] is a natural thing."
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DeHaney said that by working with children through the family and community units, everyone wins.
"We truly believe that the long term success of children, families and communities will be stronger."