Annual Appeal 2014

Eli Whitney Museum

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Jennifer Oxley spoke at our Annual Meeting this Fall. She's an Emmy-winning filmmaker and animator in N.Y. Twenty five years ago she was our first Apprentice. Jen showed a short film, The Music Box, that she had presented at MOMA. In the film, a young girl triggers a relay of toy parts, a robot, a slinky, marbles and dominoes to open a music box with a twirling ballerina. Inventiveness nurtured in our Workshop blossomed in that film.

Paying it Forward

Of her early years in classrooms, Jen Oxley said: I just didn't get it.
In the Museum's Workshops, she said: I could...
Well, she could do anything – build, draw, organize, lead – all skills that have served her will.

I could... Those words came back from other Apprentices we spoke to. I could... debug circuits... understand complicated instructions... mix perfect colors.... calm panicked children... speak in front of groups... know that I could count on others to help when I needed it.

Our Apprentices grow confident in their many and vastly differing gifts, and pass that spirit on to the thousands of students our projects nourish.

It's the time of year we write to thank you for all we have accomplished with our past support and to ask for your continued help. Your dollars support invention and creativity. You invest in young people eager to discover what they can do. They will refine and invest their gifts, and your gift, in others.

The Gift of Inclusion 47%


I could identify with children from every neighborhood.

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.

  • 11 Wilhelm Schwab Scholarships (Hamden)
  • 193 Summer Workshop Scholarships
  • 30 Scholarships for Refugee Children (with IRIS)
  • 680 Reduced cost projects for most-in-need children.
  • 120 Beta test projects for Washington School
    Project Support:
  • Movie Nights at O'Keefe Center, Hamden, CT
  • Ben's Lighthouse Project, Newtown, CT
  • Sisonke Social Circus, South Africa
The Gift of Community 18%


I could speak and be heard, listen and grow.

82 middle school, high school and college students bring distinct priorities, experience, vision and style to stretch the boundaries of our programs.
They can assemble... anything.

The Apprentice Fund supports training. Apprentices develop expertise, pose, confidence and wisdom. The 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 Gift of New Challenges 14%


I could invent in the rush that requires invention.

The Design Fund supports the trials and errors of research and development. We create new projects to teach old and new ideas.

  • Fifteen staff and apprentices will work on 100 new designs this year.
  • The Design Fund will engage 100% of the apprentices in some facet of design.
  • The Design Fund underwrites MAKE time to Experiment, a 2 hour long open design learning workshop on Sunday afternoons.
A Gift of Time 11%


I could follow when I needed to, lead when I needed to.

The Jack Viele Fund provides extra hands: 800 hours of support each summer for children who lack the strength, or confidence, or patience to master our projects.

A Gift of Equal Expectations 4%

I could sew and solder in the same day. Everyone could.

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


Sylvie Rosenthal, 1997.
Sculptor, Furniture maker

  • 12 scholarships for girls with unbounded curiousity
  • The Polly Lada Mocarski Prize to recognize young women leaders is awarded at our Annual Meeting each year.


Polly Lada-Mocarski, who, at age 80, invented a display system for books, never left home without a hat and gloves.

A Gift of the Future 6%

I could get "radical" – get to the roots for growing things right.

The Stewardship Fund trains and guides the apprentices who plant native trees, shrugs and forbs (understory plants) every year to establish a succession that will support the beauty and diversity that Whitney encountered here in 1798.


Andy Cox, 1998.
Andy directs farm to table sustainability at Hotchkiss.


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