“Grassroots” is a word commonly used in the political world to describe what happens when highly motivated supporters spontaneously form a group from the ground up to advance a political cause or candidate.
But in North Carolina, that term is also used to describe a collection of children’s science museums. And in this case, there is nothing spontaneous about the support of the museums, because they are propped up by millions of taxpayer dollars.
The North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative is a partnership of children’s museums spread across the state. The museums receive taxpayer funding through a series of grants distributed through the Department of Environmental Resources.
In recent years, the museums received close to $3 million in taxpayer funds per year, with the current budget allocating $2.2 million in funds to be granted to these local attractions.
Examples of museums receiving funding include:
- $58,000 to “Hands-On! A Child’s Gallery” in Hendersonville
- $255,000 to “Discovery Place” in Charlotte
- $67,000 to the “Core Sound Waterfowl Museum” in Harker’s Island
- $76,000 to the “Carolina Raptor Center” in Huntersville
A full list of grantees can be found here.
Museums such as these fall well outside any reasonable definition of the “core services” of state government, and should be supported financially through voluntary fees, donations and sponsorships. For these reasons, taxpayer support for the NC Grassroots Science Museums is this week’s Waste of the Week.