a museum community engaging in equity work

The CCLI Experience

Since 2013, CCLI has been cultivating communities of support for museums as they strive to catalyze diversity and inclusion efforts for and with their visitors, staff, volunteers and boards. Cross-department museum teams, including the CEO, spend a full year learning together in the Cultural Competence Learning Institute, engaging with new tools and resources and committing to positive and equitable change in their institutions.

The Cambio Experience

In 2020, in partnership with the Exploratorium, CCLI received a National Science Foundation grant to launch Cambio, a professional development model focused on helping STEM museums build their capacity to be more relevant, responsive and sustaining to their local Latinx communities. Building on the CCLI Cohort model and incorporating learning from the Exploratorium’s GENIAL convening, Cambio, which means change in Spanish, is currently accepting applications and will culminate with a field-wide summit in 2025.

Across fields, people agree, it’s time for CCLI.
CCLI was and is an incredible resource. I was challenged and inspired, cajoled and celebrated. And the museum truly began to address DEAI in an honest and open way. The museum realized that it was not just about inclusive job descriptions and targeting programming to under-represented audiences, but about centering DEAI at the core of what it does. It brought to the forefront some hard truths and realities that had always been there, but that were not being addressed. CCLI provided the safe space, resources, and guidance to begin the journey.
CCLI Participant
Cohort 7
a one-year process

The CCLI Approach

CCLI’s leadership team, with folks from local museums, national organizations and a research and evaluation firm, provides guidance, inspiration, coaching and resources along the way. Grounded in research and utilizing an applied learning model, participating museums are grateful for the accountability and local flexibility that the CCLI team provides. They recognize that they are on a journey, and appreciate walking that road with others who have faced similar challenges.

Key lever for change
The approach of the institute is informed by the cumulative learned and lived experience of the different partner institutions around promoting inclusive practice in museums. Traditionally in the museum world when issues of diversity, inclusion, and access have come up at individual institutions, the focus has been public-facing efforts – access programs to get certain people in the door, programs like free nights, cultural festivals, and exhibits around cultural content. But a museum can have a robust portfolio of those activities, and it still does not really add up to being an inclusive organization. CCLI helps institutions spend a whole year identifying a particular space in the museum that they think is the key lever for really promoting organizational transformation around cultural competence and inclusion.
Laura Huerta-Migus
in an interview with Rebecca Shulman for Museum Questions, April, 2017
Organizational change focused on equity
by museums and for museums

CCLI encourages participating staff teams to embrace organizational change and begin to connect with new audiences, both internally and externally.

Beginning with an application process, CCLI requires a full year commitment with CEO involvement, encourages cross-departmental team participation, and invites museums to identify a strategic initiative for the year’s focus. Teams of three staff members from participating museums work together with a peer network of five other museums teams over the course of the full year. As they begin their journey, each museum receives a confidential survey for their entire staff, conducted by national research and evaluation firm, Garibay Group, that allows them to understand where they should focus their work for the year. An in-person kick-off meeting and monthly follow-up virtual meetings provide tools, resources, new perspectives and connection to a learning community. Identifying a strategic initiative and receiving coaching from one of the CCLI seasoned team members, each museum applies the learning throughout the year to their on-the-ground efforts to make change in their own museums. Grounded in the belief that building cultural competence is an ongoing journey, CCLI encourages museums to hear from a broad group of staff and community, build from their strengths, and create long term goals for organizational change.

CCLI Features:
For museum teams of 3+, including senior leadership
  • Comprehensive Staff Survey
  • Two-day In-person Kickoff Workshop
  • Monthly Virtual Webinars and Resources
  • Strategic Initiative and Coaching
  • Peer Networking
  • Specialized Leadership Support

CCLI’s Core Tenets

what we hold dear

Cultural Competence is a process of lifelong learning.  It results in knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that allow us to work effectively with others from different cultural backgrounds, increases the ability of organizations to maximize the benefits of diversity within their workforces, and improves the services we offer to our various stakeholders.


This process is a journey — for organizations and individuals — and the long term goal is equity. Acknowledging differences in privilege, access, and need, and supporting space for appropriate adaptation and accommodation, organizations that strive toward equity embrace inclusive practice, acknowledge different dimensions of diversity, and examine structures and assumptions. Some strategies along the way include:


  • welcoming new audiences with relevant and responsive approaches
  • collecting data to ensure that museum audience demographics match community demographics,
  • ensuring diverse community representation for staff, board and volunteers, and
  • shifting internal organizational practices to be more inclusive.


These shifts happen with self-examination, dialogue, engagement of staff throughout the organization and a deep commitment on the part of the leadership of the organization. CCLI provides tools, frameworks, activities and a peer network to support organizations as they engage in this process.

Two models inform the CCLI philosophy:

The Bennett Model of Cultural Competence, developed by Milton Bennett, consists of a continuum of six stages moving from “ethnocentrism” to “ethnorelativism.” This model provides a helpful springboard for discussion.


CCLI Building Blocks focus on three of the Institute of Museum and Library Services 21st Century learning skills — Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration, and Global Awareness — that help institutions advance their cultural competency.