FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2020
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Cincinnati Museum Center and Public Library awarded $497,000 federal grant

National Institute of Museum and Library Services grant supports development of new digital learning model

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) and the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library are excited to announce they were awarded a substantial grant to develop a sustainable digital learning model. The $496,707 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will help bridge the digital divide for local communities.

“This is incredible recognition of our organizations’ important work, and critical support that will help us better serve our community,” says Whitney Owens, the project’s director and chief learning officer at Cincinnati Museum Center. “The nationwide grant selection process was incredibly competitive, and the combined strength and skills of our Cincinnati Museum Center-Public Library partnership helped us bring this opportunity home to Cincinnati.”

With a focus on five neighborhoods where digital access is most challenging – the West End, Price Hill, Westwood, St. Bernard and Avondale – CMC and the Library are working to address inequities in education, access and delivery that have become even more glaring during COVID-19. The Library will strengthen digital access through tools such as Wi-Fi hotspots and hardware lending programs, and both CMC and the Library will create and share educational content designed with community input. Free digital and outreach programming will be available to schools, senior centers, social service organizations and other groups serving low-income populations in the neighborhoods of focus.

“This project can answer a direct need in this moment, but it will remain relevant in a future where digital learning becomes even more critical,” adds Owens. “Our IMLS-supported work will more strongly connect our community to the resources of Cincinnati Museum Center and the Library, be a powerful tool for students and seniors and become a positive step forward toward more equitable education in our region.”

The IMLS grant will help CMC and the Library develop robust and equity-centered programs that can be scaled to different group sizes and learning levels. The project seeks to increase digital access and proficiency, reach pre-K through 5th grade students learning fully or partially from home and engage seniors to lessen social isolation. In the process, the team seeks to strengthen connections among CMC, the Library, schools and community organizations, working in concert to bridge digital divides that can hold learners back.

“One of the main concerns of the Library is that all community members have equity in their access to digital resources and materials, including computers or laptops, Wi-Fi access and the trained staff to help show them how to use the technology,” says Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director. “Working with Cincinnati Museum Center and neighborhood partners, we will advance digital inclusion in the community.”

The IMLS grant was particularly competitive: the CMC and Library submission was one of 1,701 applications from museums and libraries throughout the U.S. With only 68 projects selected for funding, CMC and the Library are among just 4% of applicants to earn an award.

“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educator and enhance their communities.”

CMC and the Library are aided by Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics (CINSAM), who will serve as project evaluator and provide critical support throughout the project. The project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant CAGML-248047-OMLS-20.


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of a select few museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation's 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually. For more information, visit

About the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library
Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library has been cultivating curiosity from the moment we first opened our doors in 1853. Since then, we have evolved into one of the biggest and busiest libraries in the country: supporting minds of all kinds who seek to unlock their full potential. With 41 neighborhood branches, a vast range of programming and ever-growing collection of virtual resources, we're proud to be a place where everyone can learn without limits. To learn more, visit or call 513-369-6900.

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