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Explore More Discovery Museum

Mission: Explore More Discovery Museum’s (Explore More) mission is to engage young minds through interactive, multi-sensory learning experiences that promote greater understanding of themselves and the world.

Community Need: While children often describe their interactions at Explore More as fun, they recognize that real learning is taking place – children play to learn. Play, often referred to as the “work of childhood,” is vital to a child’s healthy development.  Brain development research is providing concrete evidence that there is great power in play. Studies emphasize the importance of early experiences with 85% of brain development occurring by the age of five. By interacting with other families, completing hands-on activities, and building structures, children learn how to interact with their world while gaining essential skills (problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking) that are vital for success in the 21st century.

Primary Activities: Explore More provides an environment that promotes early literacy, creativity and critical thinking skills, nurtures childhood and family, supports the school learning standards and reaches out to serve children of all backgrounds and abilities. Led by a 16-member Board of Directors, they annually hosts 65,000 visitors and offer 15 hands-on exhibit galleries. Exhibits are the backbone of Explore More’s mission, and programs extend the learning through weekly activities, enrichment workshops and an extensive field trip program based on VA Standards of Learning. Explore More regularly partners with local organizations and universities to offer collaborative experiences.  Scholarship opportunities exist to ensure that every child has access to a rich learning environment through field trips, memberships, and enrichment classes, and camps.

Constituents Served: Explore More is a place for all children and their families, with a focus on children up to the age of 12, with increasing attendance from tweens. About 50% of visitors are under the age of 12. 75% of come from Virginia and 25% come from 42 different states and other countries.  15% of admissions are sponsored, and Explore More strives to give all families access. Free admission events are well-attended and scholarship memberships support families with financial need.

Program Details:  The Museums for All program encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits. Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) and Institute of Museum and Library Services collaborated to enable low-income families to visit Explore More for a fee of $2 per person with the presentation of an EBT card. The Museums for All initiative represents a stride toward the goal of reaching more children and parents, especially those living in poverty, with the valuable learning resources that a museum can offer. By removing the financial barrier, Museums for All removes the social and academic challenges families face when they are not exposed to high quality museum experiences.  Explore More plans to connect with social service agencies that work with EBT card holders to help share the program. ACM provides marketing support for the program by offering designs and recommendations for bookmarks, postcards, and more. A promotional packet of printed materials will help them launch the program with success.

Amount Requested: $5,000

Operating Budget: $491,000

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