The Museum was awarded a $123,000 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, a national foundation based in Jacksonville, Florida, which will allow the museum to sustain both its educational programs for school children and its innovative apprenticeship and internship programs.
In making the announcement, museum president James Russell applauded the Jessie Ball duPont Fund for investing in education in New Bedford and for strengthening the museum’s capacity to provide high quality public programs. Sustaining these programs is a top priority for the Museum’s Board of Trustees and Docent Volunteer Corps. He noted that the Museum’s educational mandate can continue without interruption in 2012.
Additionally Mr. Russell noted how gratifying it is that the work of the museum’s educators is getting recognized at a national level. It is a testament to the quality of their programs.
James Lopes, vice president of education and programming, said, “ The duPont grant will allow us to continue our educational mission and to expand access to our programs through the website, utilizing the museum’s vast collections. We restored Paul Cuffe to the forefront of regional history and we foster community-wide reading through popular public programs like the Moby-Dick Marathon with duPont’s help.”
The award provides substantial support to the museum’s youth apprenticeship program, a skills-development and professional work experience program for qualifying high school students in New Bedford that includes paid stipends to students totaling more than $44,000 per year.
Dr. Mary Louise Francis, Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools, called the museum “an important strategic partner in education and particularly for my school district, noting that it provides “a unique immersive educational experience unparalleled in the region.”
In 2011, the Museum welcomed 3,431 New Bedford students K-12 free of charge from 36 schools and student organizations for standards-based programs in science and history. All New Bedford students will receive free admission to the museum under the grant.
The Museum’s 85 active docents and volunteer corps contributed 23,321 hours – valued at more than $350,000 – to educational programming, student and public tours, community events, exhibitions, research and operations. They welcomed more than 90,000 visitors to the museum last year.
According to the New England Foundation for the Arts CultureCount Database, the museum generates an $8 million impact in cultural economic development for New Bedford. It regularly hosts community meetings and forums on a wide range of public issues and welcomes dignitaries and elected officials, showcasing the city’s illustrious maritime past to business leaders and economic development prospects.