Tomaquag Museum awarded $35,000 planning grant from Third Sector New England !


For Immediate Release                

February 10, 2016

Tomaquag Museum awarded $35,000 planning grant from Third Sector New England.


EXETER, R.I. – Tomaquag Museum is proud to announce it has been awarded a $35,714 grant from Third Sector New England (TSNE) and its Inclusion Initiative grant making program. TSNE’s Inclusion Initiative planning grant will forge a network to help eradicate poverty through Tomaquag Museum’s Indigenous Empowerment Initiative (IEI). 



“We are thrilled with the opportunity to build our network to empower the Native community through education and job training. The University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Indian Council are our lead partners, however our network includes over 10 partnerships and we will be reaching out for many more,” stated Executive Director Lorén Spears.

Our IEI network proposes a unique strategy for eliminating poverty in the Native American community through education and community economic development. With Tomaquag as the hub we will educate tribal members throughout R.I. by empowering their cultural and ecological knowledge and weave that into the framework of contemporary careers that museums house including: marketing ( film, podcasting, web design, audio production, blogging and print media); Museum Studies (history, research, anthropology, and sociology); agriculture ( herb lore, gardening, botany, biology); Business/Finance (small business development; retail management; accounting; strategic and business planning, fundraising); Education ( museum educator, performer, storytelling, curriculum development, program coordination, teacher conferences andtour development); Archival ( library sciences, digitization, document management, and research); Collections Management (conservation, preservation, exhibit design and fabrication); and Administration (Leadership training, Transition and Strategic Planning).

The IEI network will develop a protocol to create various levels of learning that will lead to careers, starting with internships utilizing these various areas of the museum to expose Native American youth and adults to the various opportunities a museum has to offer. We will formalize the internship process and have candidates apply for these paid opportunities to learn and experience various types of career opportunities at Tomaquag Museum or other partner organizations. The next layer is a fellowship which provides a higher pay but more finite area of career development. It will include a set training program that will include certifications in the area of study which we will develop in partnership with colleges and universities. The last piece is the bridge to higher education. While employed, after gaining experience, confidence and a passion for a certain area of study, through our higher education partnerships we seek to create Museum Studies and Native Studies degree programs. 

“The goal is to help participants overcome educational barriers, understand historical trauma and its impact, build skills, connect to interests and passions, and layer education in ways that empower the Native American community. The Indigenous Empowerment Initiative will lead to fulfilling careers that impact the individual, their family, and the whole Rhode Island community in a positive, productive and culturally respectful way. Everything we do today must positively affect the next 7 generations to come” said Spears.

The Inclusion Initiative is a grant program of Third Sector New England that encourages nonprofits to accelerate their commitments to solving the persistent and systemic problems that perpetuate poverty and inequality in our region through collaboration. The vision is to promote the development of “inclusive communities” through support and technical assistance for cross-sector networks in communities of color working to address the root causes of poverty in six main areas—arts and culture, education, healthcare, environmental justice, community and economic development, and youth development. “This vision is founded on the belief that there can be no racial justice without equity, and no equity without an end to poverty.”

“We value the leadership and wisdom of people directly impacted by social problems like poverty and believe these communities must lead the change process,” said Ayeesha Lane, the Program Director of the Inclusion Initiative. “We are honored to be learning partners in the work of the Indigenous Empowerment Initiative.”

For more information regarding Third Sector New England and the Inclusion Initiative visit  and to learn more about the museum and how you can be part of the Indigenous Empowerment Network visit


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