Amount Requested: $5,000 for Journey Into History Field Trip Scholarship Program; $5,000 for Leadership Program
Mission: Through the presentation of informative museum exhibits, instructional programs, print and digital archives, and interpretive tours of the presidential birthplace, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum (WWPL) seeks to increase understanding of the 28th President and his legacy, and to strengthen the Wilsonian ideals of international peace, domestic reform, and an informed citizenry.
Constituents Served: The WWPL educates citizens of all ages and from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Last year, the WWPL welcomed nearly 22,000 visitors of all ages for tours of the Presidential Birthplace and Museum. Approximately 2,500 area students, teachers, and chaperones visited for field trips and special children’s events. Museum Educators traveled to various schools and venues to reach an additional 500 students and adults.
Program Overview: One of the most valuable services provided by the WWPL is its Journey into History Field Trip Program, through which elementary school children visit our campus to learn about the life and times of Woodrow Wilson, who was born in Staunton in 1856. Students explore history by dressing in period costumes, playing Victorian games, practicing penmanship with slates or dip pens in our 19th-Century school room, and touring the 28th President’s birthplace. Depending on the students’ grade level, they receive lessons that prepare them for the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Perhaps more important, they gain a foundation for understanding our world by looking through the lens of history. Our program brings the past alive for these children and ignites their enthusiasm for learning.Particularly for local schoolchildren, the WWPL provides a unique experience. A United States President was born here, a claim that only 44 locations in the country can make. Woodrow Wilson plays an important role in local history, and area students should, at the very least, have a basic understanding of his significance to our world. A WWPL field trip also gives children a sense of how life was for children in this area during the 1850s.
In recent years, up to 72% of students who have participated in WWPL field trips have come from public schools within Augusta (including Staunton and Waynesboro), Nelson, and Highland Counties. In the last two years, field trip participation at the WWPL has dropped sharply, especially for local area schools. During the 2013-14 school year, 1,015 local students visited for field trips; 893 local students came during 2014-15; and only 234 local students have attended field trips so far in 2015-16. According to the teachers, the obstacle is strictly financial. Other regional sites, such as Monticello, have received grants to provide field trip scholarships for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch at their schools. This results in substantial discounts for schools in our area (where the average percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch is 53.46%). As school budgets have diminished, funds for field trips have also been greatly reduced. A $5,000 grant would allow the WWPL to provide field trip scholarships for 1,000 local students from low-income families. We strongly believe that offering this benefit would result in more area students than ever before visiting the WWPL to learn about important local, national, and world history. It will also help us to establish and maintain relationships with the teachers, so that they are more likely to bring their classes again in the future, or to pursue partnership opportunities with us as they arise.
The WWPL also offers the Wilson Leadership Program free of charge for 15 high school juniors and seniors, who acquire important life skills and build credentials as they create a living history project to be presented at the end of the year.
Current Operating Budget: $611,860
Program Budget: $10,854 (field trip program); $6,520 (Wilson Leadership Program)