IAAM CEO sees gift as a call to action for other major donors

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(Charleston, SC) – The International African American Museum (IAAM) is the recent recipient of a $1 million grant from The Duke Endowment, the largest private foundation in the Southeast. The grant includes $750,000 in unrestricted funding and $250,000 for the museum’s endowment. The latest gift follows a $1.25 million donation from The Duke Endowment in 2020, prior to the opening of the museum. It comes just months after the museum was named one of the Top Ten Best New Museums in the nation. Since its opening in June 2023, IAAM has welcomed more than 135,000 visitors.

“Both of these accolades are signals of the museum’s growing popularity,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, IAAM president and CEO. “This $1 million donation from The Duke Endowment signifies a pivotal moment for the International African American Museum. This milestone underscores the museum’s appeal to significant donors and acts as a powerful catalyst for future philanthropy,” she noted.

“A museum’s first three years are critical to its development. These are the years when an institution’s foundation is solidified, and the way is paved for sustained success and broader impact. As the museum furthers its mission, from curating new exhibitions to engaging school groups and building community ties, the indispensable role of substantial donations becomes increasingly clear. While contributions of all sizes — be it $25 or millions — are vital. The museum’s ability to realize its full potential hinges on continuous major investments from individuals, corporations, and foundations,” Matthews added.

Rhett Mabry, president of The Duke Endowment, recently visited the museum with endowment trustees and staff and commented, “The International African American Museum has proven to be a beacon of education, understanding, and cultural enrichment since its opening, attracting visitors from across the nation and around the world. The Duke Endowment is proud to support this groundbreaking institution with a $1 million grant as it furthers its mission to illuminate the African American experience, foster meaningful dialogues, and inspire future generations.”

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