Five national and international foundations have invested a total of $1 million in the International African American Museum, bringing the museum closer to its $25 million private fundraising goal.
“To arrive at this point, and to announce the generous investments of some of our nation’s most respected foundations, speaks volumes about the importance of this institution,” said former Charleston mayor and IAAM board member Joe Riley. “I am honored to count these philanthropic organizations among our supporters.”
A $150,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York City, will allow the IAAM to hire its chief curator in 2018, a full year earlier than the museum had planned.
The Ford Foundation’s $250,000 donation will fund the hiring of a director of education and engagement a year ahead of schedule, as well as support the creation of a strategic business plan.
Alexa Asendorf, spokeswoman for the museum, said the search has begun for the two positions and the museum hopes to have them filled early next year.
The Kresge Foundation, a Michigan-based nonprofit focused on investing in arts, culture and education donated $200,000; and the Speedwell Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to high school students and invests in green spaces across the country, donated $250,000 — both gifts are to support the green space around the museum on the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a Greek philanthropic organization that invests in arts, education, health and social welfare projects around the world, provided a grant of $150,000.
“This process — working one on one with these lauded foundations to uncover the ways that our core values and interests align — has been a privilege,” said Michael Boulware Moore, IAAM president and CEO. “Each of these organizations has found a unique and meaningful way to express their support, and we are so proud to be working with them to breathe life into this museum, which our nation needs now, more than ever.”
The museum is scheduled to break ground in early 2018 and open to the public in 2020. Private funding is expected to cover $25 million of the $75 million project, and Asendorf said the goal is to raise all of the money by the end of the year. The city of Charleston and Charleston County have contributed $25 million, and the state is expected to donate the rest, with $14 million committed so far.