Foundation grant expands CBMM’s education programs

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. has received a $60,000 grant from the Wallace Genetic Foundation of Washington D.C. to support a new boatshop educational program for local 6th graders, and a new bus scholarship program that helps more students from throughout the Delmarva region participate in CBMM’s curriculum-based programs and field trips. CBMM is seeking additional support for full funding and anticipates launching both programs in 2016.

Woodworking and boatbuilding tools“This is exactly the type of support we need to help double the number of K-12 students we currently serve to 7,000 over the next five years,” commented CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “I admire the Foundation’s dedication to innovative educational programs and their critical support of our mission, and we are very grateful for their generous support.”

The museum’s new bus scholarship program is designed to boost student visitation from states throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The scholarships will prioritize Title 1 schools, providing disadvantaged students the opportunity to explore the Chesapeake first-hand. Scholarships will be offered in the typically slower months of April, June, September, and October, which also provides a more intimate experience for classes on curriculum-based school tours and programs.

“The money we raise for bus scholarships is directly proportionate to the number of students that the museum is able to bring to campus,” commented Greenaway. “Bus transportation can regularly cost upwards of $500 for a half-day field trip. By creating a bus scholarship program that will reimburse schools for up to $300 per bus, we will be able to expand our reach to area schoolchildren that have not previously been able to visit the Museum.”

CBMM’s 6th grade boatshop program is a pilot initiative in collaboration with the YMCA of the Chesapeake and the Academy Art Museum of Easton. The museum plans to launch the initiative by annually offering two, six-week after-school boatbuilding sessions offered free to Talbot County 6th grade students. The pilot sessions will have limited participation, with the YMCA of the Chesapeake organizing registration and transportation from its Easton location.

The program is designed to teach students basic boatbuilding skills in a welcoming, relaxed environment. The goal of the program is to empower students to develop a sense of self-confidence and pride, and facilitate mentorships with shipwright educators that will provide guidance and support during this crucial year in their development.

“Middle school students are in flux—socially, developmentally, and academically,” said Greenaway. “These formative years influence the course these students will take for the rest of their lives, yet these are the years when children are most susceptible to negative outside influences, especially during ‘down time,’ or hours spent outside of the home or school. Locally, especially within Talbot County’s under-served communities, these children are likely to fall through the cracks, subject to rising school dropout rates and even higher instances of drug use.

“In order to address this alarming trend, CBMM is teaming up with these other local non-profits to provide a safe alternative with a ‘third space’—neither home nor school. CBMM’s ‘third space’ will be our boatshop, where Talbot County’s 6th grade students will be invited to build boats, connect with mentors, and ultimately set the foundation for a brighter future.”

During the pilot program, students will learn woodworking and boatbuilding during fall and winter sessions, and in the warmer months will be invited to participate in on-the-water activities on CBMM small craft and other vessels, where they will be introduced to basic navigational and maritime skills through safe, supportive, and fun experiences. Students enrolled in the program will have the option of continuing on as an after-school participant, joining CBMM’s Apprentice for a Day (AFAD) program, or exploring the other athletic or artistic activities offered by the YMCA of the Chesapeake and the Academy Art Museum respectively.

Once students graduate from the 6th grade, they will be offered the opportunity to continue their work with CBMM through the 12th grade through other boatbuilding and educational programs sponsored by the Museum and funded through increased philanthropic support.

The museum is also developing a program for Talbot County’s 6th–8th graders to participate in week-long camp sessions, offered in collaboration with the YMCA of the Chesapeake and CBMM. When full funding is met, CBMM plans to condense its six-week after-school session into a week-long, full-day summer camp. The existing boatbuilding and maritime activities will be enriched by off-site trips to outdoor destinations that complement the Chesapeake maritime theme, while underscoring self-discovery, personal achievement, exploration, and fun for each participant.

“CBMM views education as a key responsibility, and children here are given the opportunity to experience the Bay in multiple ways,” said Greenaway. “From learning to pick crabs from a professional crab picker, or holding a wriggling blenny on an Ecology Cruise, our mission is to provide experiences that inspire wonder, curiosity, and a lifelong passion for the Chesapeake. It is our commitment to introduce as many children as possible to programs like these and, through them, to foster the understanding that the Bay is their gift and indeed, their legacy.”

To make a donation to the program or for more information, contact CBMM at 410-745-2916 or visit