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News Release February 1, 2021

Boston Children’s Museum Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Support Religious Literacy

February 1, 2021

Boston Children’s Museum has received a grant of $1,500,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative. The grant will support the Museum’s religious literacy and humanities programs.

Lilly Endowment awarded more than $43 million in grants through the Initiative. These grants will enable organizations to develop exhibitions and education programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world. The initiative is designed to foster public understanding about religion and lift up the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

Boston Children’s Museum is one of 18 organizations from across the U.S. receiving grants through the initiative. The group includes fine arts museums, historical societies and history museums, museums dedicated to serving children and families, and museums dedicated to particular geographic locations and cultures.

Over its 107-year history, Boston Children’s Museum has consistently sought to bring people together, to foster community-wide conversations, and to address challenging societal issues as they arise, no matter how complex and controversial. Through this grant, Boston Children’s Museum will engage children and families in explorations of their beliefs, faiths, and religions in a non-judgmental and non-sectarian way. Through exhibits, public programs, reviews of the Museum’s extensive humanities collection, equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and staff training, the Museum will create a welcoming environment in which families and staff can learn about and honor different world views. The Museum’s religious literacy and humanities work will build on our history of inspiring future generations to learn and grow as kind, understanding, and empathetic individuals and citizens.

“Boston Children’s Museum is devoted to growing responsible members of the community, country, and world by helping children and families find tools needed to navigate meaningful and respectful discussions regarding beliefs, values and traditions,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO. “The Museum’s religious literacy and humanities work will promote the development of kind, understanding, and empathetic individuals and citizens, and we are deeply grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for supporting this groundbreaking work.”

Key objectives for the Museum’s work on religion and religious literacy include:

  • Encouraging children, caregivers, and families to engage with and develop curiosity about religions.
  • Supporting children and families from diverse religious backgrounds in valuing themselves and others, and in interacting with families of different religious and cultural backgrounds.
  • Empowering Boston Children’s Museum staff from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to support the development of religious literacy as part of the Museum’s equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

“Museums and cultural institutions are trusted organizations and play an important role in teaching the American public about the world around them,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These organizations will use the grants to help visitors understand and appreciate the significant impact religion has had and continues to have on society in the United States and around the globe. Our hope is that these efforts will promote greater knowledge about and respect for people of diverse religious traditions.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative in 2019 and awarded planning grants to organizations to help them explore how programming in religion could further their institutional missions. These grants will assist organizations in implementing projects that draw on their extensive collections and enhance and complement their current activities.

About Lilly Endowment Inc
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The Endowment also funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. While the primary aim of its grantmaking in religion focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States, the Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

About Boston Children’s Museum
Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook and follow us on Twitter