Museum Receives Grant to Become Center for Equity in Education

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National Civil Rights Museum announces Gates Foundation grant to become a platform for national dialogue on education equity.

The National Civil Rights Museum today announced a $549,547 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to enhance the Museum’s ability to become a platform for national dialogue on equity in education. The grant enables the Museum to: improve its website design and content; more effectively allows for the integration of information on education into its exhibitry and educational programming; and support the development of a more comprehensive and strategic social media strategy to engage citizens in discussions around important educational issues.

Actions in these three areas are intended to create greater awareness about how education can ultimately impact earning power, career success, community safety and other areas affecting quality of life. This information should create a sense of urgency and compel the community to get more involved in educational reform.

“When the Brown vs. Board of Education Court Order was passed in 1954, I’m sure the lawyers who fought the battle to the Supreme Court felt that an equal education would become a reality for all children,” comments Beverly Robertson, Museum president. “Now almost 60 years later, Memphis, along with so many other urban markets, continues to wrestle with challenges that impact the quality of education received by all students.”

“We are literally in a battle for the future lives of our children and America’s global position in the world,” Robertson adds. “That’s why everyone should have a stake in driving positive change in education.”

A significant amount of educational information and data will provide the engine to fuel content on the website and in social media vehicles. As such, a Steering Committee of individuals representing secondary and higher education, non-profit organizations, advocacy organizations, and grassroots citizens and students and other subject area experts will serve as contributors.

Utilizing the website is an important way to allow audiences to explore information and seek answers to questions. In order to access the website, visitors should go to the Museum website, http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org and click on the image that identifies Equity in Education, which is prominently displayed on the home page. They will then be linked to information that is targeted to parents, teachers, students and the community. Content will be specifically developed for each audience.

The social media component will include the utilization of blogs, Facebook and Twitter among other social media vehicles. Access to the social media program can be gained through the website by clicking on the social media link. Anyone desiring to comment will have an opportunity to share their feedback or respond to comments that are posted.

“I am especially excited about the opportunity to more effectively connect history to contemporary issues today by integrating information into current exhibits,” says Barbara Andrews, Director of Education and Interpretation. “We will add information on current educational issues to exhibits in ways that will allow visitors to connect the past with the present. We will also invite the public to learn more about such issues as the allocation of resources, school funding, standards, teacher effectiveness, etc. through on-going public programs like Lunch and Learn and Facts of the Matter.”

At 6:00 pm CDT on September 13, 2012, museum President Beverly Robertson and other education experts will host an hour-long #edequity tweet chat about the role everyone plays in closing the achievement gap. Join them for this open dialogue about equity in education and submit questions via email to media(at)civilrightsmuseum(dot)org or on Twitter with the #edequity hashtag.

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Connie Dyson

Beverly Robertson
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