Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County Pledges $30,000 to WonderLab for Science Sprouts Place

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has recently pledged $30,000 to help fund the creation of Science Sprouts Place, a new exhibit area in the gallery. Science Sprouts Place, will be an area dedicated to hands-on science for children birth to age three and their caregivers.

“When you’re out in the community and you mention WonderLab, everyone smiles,” says Marcus Whited, Program Director at the Community Foundation. “[WonderLab’s proposal] was innovative, for childhood education, and for STEM. It checked off a number of boxes we were very excited about.”

The Community Foundation recently gave birth to a partner organization called Regional Opportunity Initiatives, which now shares an office with them. Regional Opportunity Initiatives has a ten year project studying STEM fields which has shown that this region in southwest Indiana has a growing demand for STEM jobs.

“What’s great for me about Science Sprouts Place is that it’s going to build the identity of scientists at a young age,” said Emmy Brockman, the Education Director at WonderLab and the head of the Science Sprouts projects. “That’s one of the most important predictors for if someone is going to go into a STEM field. By providing this grant, the Community Foundation is helping the lay the foundations of the next generation of STEM professionals and critical thinkers in our society.”

The Community Foundation is also presently working on a campaign titled “Thrive by Five”. Thrive by Five’s goal is to raise $1,000,000 to encourage and expand early childhood education. This money will generate $42,000 a year “forever” in order to give early childhood education an advantage in the Bloomington & Monroe County areas. WonderLab’s Science Sprouts Place project, with its focus on children ages three and under, manages to fulfill the Thrive by Five criteria by educating young children in STEM fields.

Whited also said that this grant was given because WonderLab seems to the Community Foundation to be well-led, and that’s one of the criteria they look for. “And whenever you can have an environment where kids can have fun and learn some cool things and get them interested in things they wouldn’t have thought about before it’s a great,” he added.

Science Sprouts Place is scheduled to open in 2019 and will include original, hands-on exhibits geared towards infants and toddlers as well as information for caregivers. WonderLab will also continue to develop exhibits and programs for all ages.

The Community Foundation for Bloomington and Monroe County, founded in 1990, is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting growth and improving the quality of living by helping to fund non-profits and charities in the Monroe County area. Over the course of its twenty-seven years, the CFBMC has granted $25 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations as well as handling more personal funds for families hoping to ensure their children’s future success.

WonderLab is one among thirteen organizations awarded a competitive grant by the Community Foundation with the goal of improving the standard of living in Bloomington for all groups. Other recipients of grants this cycle from the Community Foundation included Middle Way House to expand violence prevention programming into elementary schools, the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools for the STEM Collaboration Lab at Bachelor Middle School, the Teachers Warehouse to expand free school classroom supply services to high school teachers, as well as numerous other organizations.