Creative Discovery Museum has been named a recipient of the 2012 Institute of Museum and Library Services “Museums for America” Grant. Out of 470 applicants, Creative Discovery Museum is one of 152 recipients to receive this prestigious award. The funding from the grant, a total of almost $148,000 will go to support a key objective in Creative Discovery Museum’s new strategic plan: to expand the reach of the Museum by focusing on serving the needs of youth ages 11 to 16 through the Creative Discovery Museum experience.
The Museum will launch the Youth Spark Initiative to achieve this goal. The initiative will serve ages 11 to 16 in the Chattanooga area and will strengthen ties to youth by giving them a voice in the development of programs and future exhibits. This initiative will also assist youth in achieving 21st Century skills by focusing on technology and educational standards.
Henry Schulson, the Museum’s executive director commented that “We are delighted to receive this award. It is recognition of our commitment to serve the needs of youth in our community and to fulfill our vision of making Chattanooga the best place for a child to grow. Our teen volunteers already do a great job for us and this grant will let us strengthen this program but reach out to many more teens throughout the community in exciting and innovative ways.”
One grant reviewer commented that this project has “the potential to serve as a model for other museums seeking to engage teens and “tweens” in their programming.
“This year’s funded projects reflect the wide array of museum types in the country,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “In every case IMLS funds are supporting initiatives that advance an institution’s strategic plan for the benefit of the community it serves.”
The initiative is divided into five activities:
A Youth Advisory Board comprised of 10 to 15 young people. This advisory board will provide input on programs, connect new teens to the Museum, and allow a diverse group of teens to gain experience and work together.
Expand and enhance the existing Museum Apprenticeship Program (MAP) and develop it into a national model for youth engagement in museums. The MAP program currently has a diverse group of 70 teen volunteers who provide assistance throughout the Museum. The IMLS grant will provide additional training and expansion of the program.
Create an environment that is appealing to youth. Creative Discovery Museum will dedicate evening times outside of normal hours reserved exclusively for the 11 to 16 age group.
Develop education programs for middle school students. Creative Discovery Museum will develop on-site and outreach programs for middle school students that align and support local educational standards in the arts and sciences.
Create a Teen Media Collaborative. The Teen Media Collaborative will provide teens with the opportunity to improve their information, media and technology skills by developing and producing media content for Creative Discovery Museum’s marketing and educational programs.
The MAP program is designed for 11 to 17 year olds who enjoy volunteering in the Museum. The Museum MAPs are trained to work in all the Museum exhibits and provide support for birthday parties, camps, seasonal workshops and other special events. The program requires a commitment of 8 hours per month year round. During their time at the Museum, the MAPs learn responsibility, develop customer service skills and gain self-confidence.
“I joined the MAP program when I was eleven years old,” said Raewyn Duvall, former MAP and recent graduate from Girl’s Preparatory School. “I could barely speak to people because I was so shy. The MAP program helped me come out of my shell and develop customer service skills.”
Ms. Duvall recently aged out of the program at 17. She will now attend Tufts University and major in mechanical engineering. She credits her pursuit of engineering to Creative Discovery Museum. “I have always enjoyed Inventor’s Clubhouse. The [former] racetrack area developed my interest in mechanical engineering.”
Ms. Duvall highly recommends the MAP program to any youth looking for a unique volunteering experience. “This program is unlike any other around. Not only did I connect with my peers, but I developed life skills in the process.”
For more information on Creative Discovery Museum and the MAP program, please visit www.cdmfun.org.