Museums and social change : supporting community needs equals stronger partnerships.
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As museums seek to demonstrate public value by reaching a more diverse and often underserved audience, they are creating partnerships and programs designed to support community needs. This project focuses on a partnership formed between the Mayborn Museum Complex (MMC) at Baylor University in Waco, TX, and the Greater Waco Education Alliance's Best Practices Reading Program (BPRP), a literacy organization that aims to improve reading skills of local students. The purpose of the partnership was to support the goals of a community organization by offering special learning opportunities in the museum. This project sought to support goals of the BPRP through two visits to the MMC, where students and volunteers in the program participated in educational activities designed to foster four goals, including providing opportunities for informal assessment of reading skills. Observations, in-person interviews and online surveys with BPRP volunteers provided feedback to design each visit, and to evaluate whether the goals of the partnership were met. This project includes a brief literature review of the history of museums and community involvement, including the attempts of museum leaders to broaden the role of museums in society by providing direct services to their communities. The results of the project provide recommendations to the MMC, and other museums, that will facilitate future partnerships to meet community needs. This project demonstrates the benefits of such partnerships, and identifies the challenges in creating and sustaining them.