In 2003, the History Center established the Heritage Education Fund (HEF) to help provide financial support for school groups wishing to make field trips to the local museum owned by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. Thanks to community support of HEF, the decade-old fund hit its one millionth dollar raised this summer from thousands of local individuals, foundations and companies.
Over 65,000 students, representing over 1,800 classes, have visited the museum since 2003. Each student touring the museum through the free field trip program is given a Discovery Guide which provides a coupon for an additional free return visit for the student when accompanied by an adult. HEF provides free tours to all K-12 public, private, parochial, and home school students, teachers, and chaperones in a five county area in northeast Indiana.
In the fall of the 2003-2004 school year, the History Center hosted the first group of Allen County students through HEF. In 2006 the program was extended to include all K-12 school groups from DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble, and Steuben counties in Indiana.
HEF underwrites student admission fees, helps to pay for staff to develop and maintain student programs, creation and maintenance of the education materials used in exhibits and the promotion, printing, and distribution of educational materials used by teachers and students. HEF also provides funds for the Traveling Trunks program, with artifacts and educational materials for use in classrooms free of charge.
While available to all to visit, the History Center considers a key audience to be the K-12 grade students in northeast Indiana. One of the History Center’s highest mission-driven priorities is educating our community’s youth in order to help form a caring and deeply rooted citizenry for our future.
Persons, businesses, or foundations interested in learning more about the Heritage Education Fund or supporting its efforts to share our community’s history with its youth should contact the History Center at 260-426-2882.
The History Center is one of the largest historical agencies in the Midwest that receives no regular operating support from either the county in which it is located or the city’s school district. The City of Fort Wayne has, however, provided generous support for the structure itself, the Old City Hall building, erected in 1893 at the corner of Berry and Barr Streets.
In March 2013 the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission pledged $500,000 in support of several key restorations projects. This comes on the heels of a $1.2 million, multi-year commitment by the City in 2009 to replace the building’s heating and air-conditioning system with a new state-of-the-art system.
In addition to the Heritage Education Fund, the History Center provides an educational venue for study via its blog. “History Center Notes and Queries” is available at http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/ <http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/> . Since its inception in 2010, the blog has had over 60,000 page views.
The blog supplements the Mather Lectures and the History Center’s publications such as the “Old Fort News” and provides information for those wishing to know more about our community as they explore the museum and other historical sites in the city and county. New posts to the blog can also be found via the History Center’s Facebook page.
Virtual exhibits were also started this summer and are available by clicking the link from the home page of the organization’s website at www.fwhistorycenter.com.