Funding Education at the JMM
Each year, the JMM serves thousands of students and teachers through field trips to our historic synagogues and exhibitions and off-site activities including living history performances, museum-school partnership projects, and student storytelling.
Many of these programs are offered at no cost to schools, evidence of our commitment to providing access to all schools and not just those with access to funds for cultural enrichment. We are able to do so thanks to the support of many generous donors who recognize the value of JMM educational programs.
One source of funding that is critical to our ability to offer free field trips is the State of Maryland through the State Aided Educational Institutions (SAI) program that is facilitated by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Recognizing the importance that museums and cultural organizations play in educating Maryland students, MSDE awards grants annually to organizations that are vetted rigorously to ensure that they meet a high set of standards and that they offer informal educational experiences that cannot be replicated in the classroom. Since 2006, the JMM has been a member of this group of SAI approved institutions in such esteemed company as the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the National Aquarium, the Chesapeake Maritime Museum, and the Baltimore Symphony. A full list of SAI organizations can be found at: http:///www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/1E937A4D-CC9F-41CA-99F3-452B5961300F/17401/WEBSITE_SAI_DESCRIPTIONS_0F_38_SAIsrev_072208.pdf.
In addition to submitting an annual application, a mid-year report, and a final report complete with attendance statistics for Maryland public school visitations, an important component of the SAI application process is testifying in front of both the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates during the annual legislative session. Each of the 38 institutions that receives funding through the SAI program submits written testimony and also sends a representative to Annapolis to provide oral testimony on the program’s behalf. Although the day is long and often times stressful, it is also an amazing opportunity to advocate on behalf of the JMM to the legislators who sit on the committees responsible for approving the SAI budget. Having the chance to listen to the testimony of each of the other SAI organizations is also a privilege as it affords us the opportunity to learn from one another about the wonderful work taking place at institutions across the state.
Despite the fact that the continuing state budget crisis has resulting in a substantial decrease in funding to the SAI program (the program’s funding has been cut by more than 50% in the past four years), support from the state helps leverage additional funds from foundations and individuals that provide critical assistance as we work towards expanding our reach in Maryland public schools. We are most appreciative of the support of MSDE and the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to providing Maryland public school students access to cultural enrichment.