Two Miami-Dade institutions — the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Bass Museum of Art — have been named recipients of W.K. Kellogg Foundation grants for programs that foster family engagement in early childhood education.
More than 1,100 applications poured in last year after the Michigan-based philanthropic foundation asked for proposals, a higher number than any previous individual grant opportunity. In the end, 30 organizations were chosen by the foundation to receive a total of $13.7 million.
“This was an eye-opening moment for us,” La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, said in a statement. “We knew there was a need and a value around the issue of family engagement, but we didn’t realize the extent of the shared value around families’ desire to more deeply engage in their children’s education.”
The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, which gets $500,000, was the only art museum awarded a grant.
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Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator of the Bass, said the grant will allow the museum to expand efforts that began about a year ago to reach out to more diverse audiences with young children throughout the community.
“We were doing it within our means and on a small budget,” Cubiñá said.
Through the IDEA@thebass Educational Program, the museum will hire parents to act as ambassadors within communities.
“It’s all about family engagement and how a family is so important in the early years of learning and how a family can be brought into programs to enhance learning,” Cubiñá said.
With the help of the grant, the museum will train between 25-30 ambassadors over 3 years, which Cubiñá said would have an impact on 30,000 children and families.
At the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the grant of nearly $450,000 will support the Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) Family Engagement program, which helps preschool teachers, assistants and families to get more comfortable with science education and the museum.
The science museum is setting up the program in three large model demonstration sites in north, central and south Miami-Dade. There, teachers and parent leaders will use the ECHOS program and parents and children will also experience what the museum has to offer.
“When we were selected, we felt very privileged and happy,” said Judy Brown, the museum’s senior vice president for education. “I would say ecstatic.”
Felicia DeHaney, the Kellogg Foundation’s director of education and learning, said the grants are meant to address one of the great challenges in education: developing authentic relationships with parents and other caregivers.
“When people recognize the need to involve families and those programs that are respecting and partnering with families, they realize the benefits that come not only short-term but long-term,” she said.