Four years ago, through the 2011-2012 Heritage Sustained Support review panel process, 4Culture provided 17 organizations complimentary enrollment in the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations, or StEPs. This self-assessment program, developed by the American Association for State and Local History, “offers history organizations of every size and type the opportunity to benchmark their work against nationally recognized standards.” From those initial 17 organizations, StEPs enrollees in King County now number 40.
Last year, to assist these organizations in navigating the six sections of the StEPs workbook, Heritage 4Culture implemented a mentorship and peer-support program called StEPs 4Culture. In March 2014, sixty individuals representing thirty organizations gathered for the introductory Convening on Mission & Vision. Subsequent meetings focused on Management & Governance; and Stewardship of Collections, Historic Structures, & Landscapes.
This February, the program’s second year launched in style at The Museum of Flight, where Audience standards served as the basis for a dialogue on integrating the visitor voice into practice through evaluation. With capacity building for history organizations as one of StEPs 4Culture’s objectives, the Convening also provided the perfect forum for introducing new incentive funding for StEPs enrollees.
Through Capacity Building Grants, StEPs enrollees in King County now have the means to implement projects that will move their organizations forward with professional guidance. Practical capacity building projects will address improving management systems and governance within organizations. With the successful completion of capacity building projects, organizations will be stronger, more sustainable, and better able to serve their communities.