Post by MMA Executive Director Lisa Craig Brisson.
There were many great things that came about for MMA as a result of our joint conference with the American Association for State and Local History, but one of my favorites is our new member scholarship program! It began last year as a response to the concern that the more-expensive AASLH registration rate would make it difficult for our members from small organizations to attend.
We weren’t sure how many scholarships we would be able to provide, or even how many people would apply. We were pleased with a great response for both. The Local Host Committee from AASLH provides most of the scholarship funds with more coming from MMA members and other supporters.
Scholarship recipient Rennae Healey decked out in conference flair
Applicant response was also strong, and we were impressed and surprised by the thoughtful, articulate applicants we heard from. In the end, we were able to provide scholarships for all the applications who could attend at least one full day of the conference.
It was very clear from the process, though, that there are a lot of people in the field that could use financial support to attend conferences. Some of the applications were from emerging professionals who were working multiple jobs and serving as museum volunteers as they tried to break into the field. Some applications came from staff and volunteers at small organizations who had limited funds to attend conferences. Other applications came from members who had full-time jobs in museums, but who needed to pay their own way to the conference. It was both inspiring and depressing at the same time. Before we were even done selecting the 2016 recipients, the conversation had began about trying to offer scholarships this year.
Recipient Mason Christensen enjoying the vendor booths during a break at the 2016 conference
Once approached with the idea, the MMA Board of Directors was fully behind it. They pledged the proceeds from the Spring Appeal to fund the program, and set a goal of raising enough to cover 10 scholarships. We are still in the midst of the appeal, but they are committed to making the scholarships happen. If we fall short after the appeal, I think there will be some phone calls made . . .
Member Scholarship applications are now available. You can find information about the program on the MMA website and apply via email, online or through the mail. Applications are due on July 6.
I can’t wait to see the scholarship applications come in. I know I will learn more about our members, and be inspired by the hard work and dedication of those who apply. I am also excited to see what level of support we end up getting from our members for the scholarship program. One of the best parts of my job is getting to witness, first hand, the generosity of the Michigan museum community!
(Wondering about scholarships for students? Michigan State University is generously sponsoring that program this year. Applications will be available in mid-August, and the deadline for that will be September 15)
You can find the scholarship information and application here.
You can donate to the scholarship fund here.