Facing Change Museum Communities of Learning: Call for Applications

Now through May 17, the American Alliance of Museums is accepting applications from museums in the following communities to participate in Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity and Inclusion: Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Jackson, MS; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

Please note: the deadline has been extended to May 17 to accommodate museums in communities experiencing extreme weather at the time of the original deadline of May 10.


Facing Change: Museum Board Diversity and Inclusion is a three-year initiative that will provide the framework, training, and resources for museum boards to build diverse and inclusive cultures within their organizations that better reflect and serve their communities. Facing Change will catalyze museum board leaders to develop and implement measurable inclusion plans and practices, including access to diverse board candidate matching support. One element of this initiative is a cohort of 10 competitively selected museums from each of the five Museum Communities of Learning.


Over the course of Facing Change (July 2019 – Dec 2021), participating museums will:

  • Participate in baseline assessments measuring cultural competency and inclusive organizational culture and receive assistance to develop a customized plan of action
  • Receive approximately 16-24 hours of professional development for museum directors and board members from a national Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) firm, which may include inclusion and unconscious-bias awareness training, assessment of internal barriers to progress, inclusive change management, DEAI-supporting board governance strategies, and implementation of DEAI strategies
  • Have access to DEAI coaching and support personalized to your board and institution from Facing Change DEAI Fellows throughout the cycle
  • Develop sustainable board diversity and inclusion plans
  • Workshop advanced board recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies
  • Receive priority access to diverse board candidate matching
  • Be part of a local “community of learning” of approximately ten museums
  • Engage with American Alliance of Museums leadership and Facing Change funding partners from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Alice L. Walton Foundation, and Ford Foundation


For your museum to get the most benefit from Facing Change, the process needs to be an institutional priority. Committing to this program includes:

  • A signed letter of commitment from CEO/Director and Board Chair (to be included with the museum’s application)
  • Approximately 8 hours of training and reflection a year for museum leadership and Board members, inclusive of DEAI training and independent work
  • Participation in Board culture survey and assessment
  • Development of a Board Inclusion Plan (through training and facilitation program)

It is expected that museum leadership and governing authority:

  • Remain involved for the duration of the process
  • Participate in various data collection and evaluation processes throughout the program period
  • Maintain candid and transparent communication with each other, AAM, the DEAI firm, and the Fellows
  • Share elements of the museum’s experience, lessons learned, and accomplishments with the broader museum community

Also, your museum’s board must be:

  • Active and aware of the involved role they will be playing in this program
  • Willing to look internally, do personal work, and commit to progressing through this process with transparency and honesty
  • Willing to be self-reflective and to make changes individually, collectively, and structurally
  • Willing to share its demographic information, anonymously
  • Committed to developing a written diversity and inclusion plan

If accepted into the program, there is no fee to participate, and AAM will sponsor costs of all training, coaching, and facilitation. Museums/individuals will, however, be responsible for their own local travel and meeting expenses (e.g. parking, gas, etc.).

As a part of the DEAI training, professional development may be delivered through a mix of community-wide sessions open to all participating museums, individual museum board sessions, and online/self-study formats. The program will include at least one major convening of each Museum Community of Learning per year (e.g., museums in the Chicago region will gather in/near Chicago annually). Representatives from participating museums will be invited to participate in a culminating convening in 2021 at their own expense; scholarship funds may be available. Convening dates and locations will be determined in consultation with selected museums.

Museums may elect to implement additional professional development sessions; administer the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) for each museum director and board member for an additional cost (approximately $300/person); and/or engage additional support to develop/implement diversity and inclusion plans at their own expense.

Who Should Apply?

AAM-member museums of all types (from art to zoos) and sizes that are located within an approximate 100-mile radius of the following cities are eligible to apply:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Jackson, MS
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area, CA

The program is primarily designed for independently governed 501(c)(3) museums—organizations with boards that operate autonomously and have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization. However, if the museum is part of a larger parent organization whose board functions as the museum’s board and has influence/control of its board appointments, or if the museum is a public-private partnership, contact the Facing Change staff to discuss, as the program will consider these on a case-by-case basis.

Facing Change is ideal for museums with leadership that:

  • Believes that diversity and inclusion are central to the effectiveness and sustainability of museums (see Facing Change: Insights from AAM’s DEAI Working Group)
  • Has taken some steps or begun discussions to embed DEAI into the museum’s programs, collections, and/or exhibitions and wishes to extend this work to the leadership and governance level
  • Is seeking guidance for and is committed to doing the internal work necessary to enhance board-level cultural competence
  • Has a strategic commitment to become more necessary and valued within their community through reflective service and leadership
  • Is currently participating in the AAM Continuum of Excellence
  • Is looking to recruit and retain more diverse board candidates who are well-matched and actively contributing to the sustainability of the organization
  • Has an interest in broadening its peer-to-peer network of museum governance leaders and board members for shared learning

Data Collection and Evaluation

Museums will be asked to participate in various data collection and evaluation processes throughout the program period, as a requirement of the Facing Change funders. The data collected will be used to inform the museum’s own understanding and planning and, as a whole, to evaluate the effectiveness of the Facing Change program. We recognize the sensitive nature of this work and respect the participating museums’ and individuals’ privacy. No personally identifiable information or museum-specific information will ever be shared publicly without the relevant individual’s/museum’s explicit consent.


Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (PT) on May 17, 2019. (Note: this deadline has been extended to accommodate museums in communities experiencing extreme weather at the time of the original deadline of May 10.) Museums will be notified if they have been selected to participate in June; the program begins for selected museums in the summer of 2019.

The application is submitted through an online system where you will answer questions and upload documents. Applications submitted by email or sent in hard copy will not be considered. To view a sample application, please see Sample Facing Change Application.

Required application materials include:

  • TIN or EIN: A TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) or EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a nine-digit number that the internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to business entities. The IRS uses this number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. This is a free service offered by the IRS; apply and receive your EIN immediately here.
  • Letter of Support: Letter(s) signed by the museum’s CEO/director and the board chair (separate or joint letters). Inclusion of governance committee chair in letter of support is strongly encouraged. Letter(s) should indicate institutional and board support of full participation in Facing Change, if accepted.

Apply now!

Additional Information

An informational webinar with Dr. Tonya Matthews, Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums was hosted on Thursday, April 18 at 3 p.m. ET. The session was captioned and recorded.

This program is made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon, Alice L. Walton, and Ford Foundations.

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