Ford Foundation Increases Commitment to the International African American Museum
Third Round of Funding Sets the Stage for a new Telling of the African American Journey.

The International African American Museum has received a grant of $500,000 from the Ford Foundation that will support the Museum’s inaugural year of operation, including exhibition installations and early programming, genealogy workshops, and Gullah storytelling programs. This is the third grant from Ford to the museum since 2017, which brings the Foundation’s total giving to nearly $1 million. This investment comes at a crucial time for the International African American Museum, with opening set for late 2022.

“This is our momentum year! As we head down the finish line of artifact and exhibition installation, we are also launching several programs and beginning to connect with educators across the country while we design our K-12 curriculum,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO. “We are only able to do this with the vision and support of organizations like the Ford Foundation. We are incredibly grateful for their continuing support.”

Exhibitions will explore the real human cost and suffering of slavery, but they will also honor the ancestors, celebrate cultures that were forged in the crucible of the antebellum South, explore the cultural impact that erupted from Charleston, S.C., and spread across the U.S. and the Caribbean, and then connect descendants to their ancestors through an award-winning genealogical research center.

“We are honored to work with the International African American Museum and ensure that the history of enslaved Africans is preserved for years to come,” said Margaret Morton, director of Creativity and Free Expression for the Ford Foundation. “The museum will be a critical resource for researchers and visitors alike, and we look forward to seeing the lasting impact its programming will provide.”

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization that works with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Ford’s support for the International African American Museum will provide visitors — nationally and internationally — an opportunity to experience the African American journey at one of the most historic sites in the nation: the former Gadsden’s Wharf, the point of disembarkation for so many enslaved Africans.

IAAM’s Dr. Tonya Matthews added, “We’re eager to open our doors to visitors. The International African American Museum is excited to have the Ford Foundation among its partners. Both institutions strive to ensure that all individuals – and their stories – receive just and equitable treatment. The stories and artifacts within the museum, alongside the connections made because of them, are being intentionally curated with this understanding. The International African American Museum will prompt difficult conversations, tell a complete history, and spark action to build a more perfect union.” With the support of the Ford Foundation and other generous partners, the International African American Museum plans to open its doors at the end of 2022. With less than a year until then, partnerships with institutions like the Ford Foundation continue to play a vital role.

About the International African American Museum


The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora. IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. Set to open in late 2022, IAAM is positioned to honor the untold stories of the African American journey from Charleston, S.C., at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352. 

About the Ford Foundation


The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization with assets currently valued at $16 billion. For more than 85 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the Foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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