IAAM gets third round of support from Ford Foundation

Grant to assist Gullah storytelling, more

The International African American Museum has received a grant of $500,000 from the Ford Foundation that will support its 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, and it brings the foundation’s total gifts to nearly $1 million. With opening set for late 2022, this investment comes at a crucial time. IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews called 2022 a “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,” Matthews said. “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 ancestors; celebrate cultures, like Gullah Geechee, that were forged in the crucible of the antebellum South; explore the cultural impact that began in Charleston 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.”

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.

Matthews is eager to open the museum 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,” she said.


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.


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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