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Federal Grant to Fund Curriculum Development, Professional Outreach through Jim Crow Museum

Jim Crow MuseumSecondary education students from across the State of Michigan will benefit from the content and efforts of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The $250,000 award will allow for the development of a curriculum promoting tolerance and social justice, through studies of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.

An independent agency of the U.S. government has announced a $250,000 grant award to Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The grant will support the shaping of social studies curriculum for secondary education instruction across the state of Michigan.

David Pilgrim, the university’s vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, said the Institute of Museum and Library Services made the award available through its African American History and Culture program.

“This award will help us hire an education coordinator for the curriculum development necessary,” Pilgrim said. “This new position and program will provide middle and high schools as well as museums, libraries and other organizations the resources to deliver well-rounded and scaffolded curriculum focused on teaching tolerance and promoting social justice through the lens of the African American experience. With this grant, IMLS has played a significant role in catalyzing the impact and effectiveness of our organization.”

Robert Murray, Ferris’ associate vice president for Advancement, said that campus collaboration is an important component of the educational content development now made possible by the IMLS grant.

“We have great allies in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs who have been actively involved in this regard,” Murray said. “I am very thankful that Thomas Dowling, the associate dean of Professional Development and Research, and ORSP grants administrator Wendy Stapp will continue to offer their expertise as we advance this opportunity.”

Josh Spencer, the vice president of Grants and Project and Program Development with Grand Rapids-based Kennari Consulting, wrote the successful grant application. He said the curriculum will help address deficiencies in Michigan’s social studies instruction relative to students’ understanding of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.

“A portion of this grant will allow the education coordinator to form an education advisory panel to develop standards that districts, schools and educators can use to bolster their social studies instruction around the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras,” Spencer said. “This grant will allow the Jim Crow Museum to extend its reach to classrooms around Michigan and ensure educators have the resources to teach students about the systemic racism and disenfranchisement that existed throughout the 20th century.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. IMLS seeks to advance, support and empower America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. Its vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.