Fourth grade students at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s Estuary Chesapeake program

Education and Access

$32.2 Million raised

Education and Access

Reaching People Everywhere

The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, is a laboratory for learning and innovation. Smithsonian Education shares the depth and breadth of the institution’s collections and research with learners of all ages and educators everywhere, through collaborations and unique educational experiences. More than 300 educators and 200 affiliate organizations bring Smithsonian knowledge, stories, exhibitions, artifacts and inquiry-based lessons to nearly 13 million learners each year.

A $30 million gift of endowment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports the Youth Access Grants program, enabling Smithsonian educators to experiment with new digital strategies for outreach, engage in collaborations, and through outcome-based evaluation, assess the impact of their programs. It also supports development of standards-based strategies for reaching students with differing access to technology and broadens reach to educators and students in under-resourced communities.

A campaign gift from the Gay and Erskine Love Foundation, led by David and Valerie Love, supported programs and events for youth, including those from underserved communities, and lifelong learners and families in Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and Houston. Customized programming invigorated these communities by sharing Smithsonian educational resources in ways that are more in-depth than once-in-a-lifetime visits to the National Mall.

Mark C. Bowers established the A. Anne Ellingsen Bowers Endowment in honor of his mother. It supports K-12 science-related education programs across the Smithsonian, connecting with diverse audiences, to enrich programs, curricula and exhibitions and educate tomorrow’s leaders.

Education and Access
Leadership Message

Leadership Message

At the Smithsonian, we believe every person’s dream can come true. But some need new dreams and an expanded sense of what’s possible. We challenge people of all ages to imagine lives of adventure and wonder. We introduce them to scholars who are researching whether Mars can support life, protecting animals on the verge of extinction, translating diaries of those who witnessed history and going on digs to discover evidence of the distant past.

The Smithsonian is uniquely suited to serve 21st-century learners. Our more than 300 educators work with scientists, curators and researchers to bring our stories, collections, lessons, artifacts, short films and games to students, teachers and learners of all ages. We reveal the connections that link our historic, artistic, scientific and cultural scholarship to educational offerings so that they are accurate, accessible and affordable.

We know 21st-century learners often are self-directed. We envision creating a boundless library of digital offerings to stimulate their curiosity and provide them with new perspectives. We have learned from pilot programs that web-based technologies, digitized images and interactive tools allow learners to see and experience places they may never visit. We believe delivering real-world learning expands our reach in exciting and innovative ways.

A gift to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access will support groundbreaking research, innovative project and program development and the broad dissemination of high-quality, educational resources to learners everywhere.

Thank you.

  • Claudine K. Brown
    Assistant Secretary, Education and Access
Education and Access
Campaign Case

A Mandate for Education

Access to Education
The Smithsonian creates methods and models for innovative informal education and aligns them to educational requirements in formal learning settings. Our Smithsonian-wide approach leverages resources, strengthens communications, coordinates programming and rewards inventive thinking and collaborations.

Gifts to the Smithsonian Campaign will foster a spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration within the institution. Our educators are developing and launching partnerships, which are transforming how we work and how we engage our visitors.

Spaces for Education
New tools and technologies are broadening our access worldwide. The nation’s growing diversity challenges us to reach new audiences and ensures that our collections, exhibitions and outreach programs speak to all Americans. We seek to expand our learning labs, which promote active learning and allow us to develop prototypes and test new ideas.

By investing in the Smithsonian Campaign, your gifts enable us to expand tested education programs through the use of mobile technology, 3D digitized collections, smarter websites and other digital assets, such as games, videos and infographics. With these digital resources, the Smithsonian will increase its audience and improve the quality of the experience for learners.

Leaders in Education
The Smithsonian is creating a presence in classrooms and communities across the nation. We collaborate with more than 900 museums, educational entities, other nonprofits and entrepreneurial groups to strengthen the teaching of science, history, art and culture. Implementing educational policies allows the Smithsonian to align our research with broader national goals.

One of our funding priorities is endowing positions — the assistant secretary for Education and Access and Smithsonian-wide educators and fellows.

Education and Access

Education and Access

is raising $36 million of the Smithsonian Campaign’s overall $1.5 billion goal. 

Campaign Priorities

Access to Education

$10 Million

We seek a total of $10 million for revitalizing education. Investments in education allow us to develop distance-learning programs, curricula, digital assets and more. A gift of $25,000 will produce an education video. An investment of $2 million supports the development of traveling exhibitions.

Spaces for Education

$9 Million

We seek a total of $9 million for learning centers. A gift of $2 million funds media studios for teens or a theater for young learners.

We seek a total of $13 million for enhanced technology and digital assets. Gifts starting at $25,000 enable us to digitize and improve online resources, while an investment of $5 million will create a new web platform.

Leaders in Education

$15 Million

We seek a total of $15 million for endowed education positions. A gift of $2 million endows a Smithsonian-wide educator. An investment of $250,000 brings professionals from Smithsonian Affiliates to the institution for training. Gifts starting at $25,000 support an intern or fellow. An investment of $5 million endows the position of the assistant secretary for Education and Access.

Education and Access

Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access Claudine Brown



Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Reaching Out to Educate, Serve

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is well known for supporting forward-looking initiatives around the world. The foundation established an endowment at the Smithsonian to fund innovative, multi-disciplinary education projects. The Youth Access Endowment is shaping how the Smithsonian approaches education, reaching students and teachers in underserved regions. Through this endowment, children in Boston photographed deep space with robotic telescopes. Others in Maryland mapped out their personal narratives through technology and art. “The Smithsonian is a national treasure,” Gates says. “We must support its place in American education, culture and world history.”

Education and Access

Contact Us

Education and Access Campaign Officers

Education and Access

Total Goal:
$32.2 Million


$32.2 Million Raised

As of November 30, 2017

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