2017 Annual Appeal

Eli Whitney Museum

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Students send notes to thank us for our workshops here. Ms. Wanda gets more notes than the rest of us. Wanda Faison does not know the most about wiring bulbs and batteries, but she does know the most about how children are wired. Before 50 children have found their seats, Wanda will have found the Justins in the room – the souls made restless because they expect to fail. We can't explain Wanda's prescience. We do know she is there for Justin before he knows he needs her. She will say, Breathe deep. He will breathe in her stubborn confidence. He will succeed.

Stubborn Confidence

All children want to solve problems. They need tools, materials, well-designed projects, and stubborn confidence.

When children come here to learn about electricity, they think they understand the challenge until they open their bag of parts. Some panic. Trial, error, trying again. In the end, they all succeed. They learn about electricity and perseverance – a small rehearsal for the deeper challenges that lie ahead.

We write to thank you for all that we have accomplished with your support and to ask you for your continued help. You open our workshops to children regardless of the neighborhood they were born in. You help us make a long investment in the talents and determination of the Apprentices who give the work scale and depth. You invest in the unshakable optimism that connects lights, and lives, and the future.



The opportunity to experiment is a birthright of all children.

The Open Workshop Fund reduces or eliminates the cost of projects for children whose families or schools lack the resources to join our workshops or field trips.

  • 264 Summer Workshop Scholars
  • 32 Scholarships for Refugee Children (with IRIS)
  • 780 Reduced cost projects for most-in-need children.

In a workshop, no tools are identified as 'girl tools' or 'boy tools.'

The Catherine Greene Fund encourages girls to try activities traditionally associated with boys. Caty Greene was the vivacious, bold and independent widow who supported the young Whitney's work on the cotton gin. We return the encouragement.

  • 14 Summer scholarships for girls with unbounded curiosity

The Polly Lada Mocarski Prize recognizes young women leaders.

Place feeds learning. We labor to maintain the native plants that attract and shelter avian visitors and curious children.

The Stewardship Fund trians and guides the Apprentices who plant native trees, shrubs and forbs (understory plants) on the Whitney site to establish a succession that will support the beauty and diversity that Whitney encountered here in 1798.

Instinct is not enough. 90 middle school, high school, and college students return, week after week, year after year, to develop the skills, knowledge and leadership that sustains our workshop.

The Apprentice Fund supports training. Apprentices develop expertise, poise, confidence and wisdom. The Apprentice Fund supports direct and indirect training, individual mentoring, experimental projects, design challenges and the social experience that is essential to maturing in a workplace.

The Fund supported 29,700 apprentice hours this year. The median apprenticeship length was 3.9 years.

Open hearts and patient hands welcome children who need extra direction or encouragement to attend our Workshops. The Jack Viele Fund provides extra hands.

  • 780 hours of support each summer for children who lack the strength, or confidence, or patience to master our projects.
  • 12 Scholarships: extra assistance for families facing extra challenges.

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