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Children's Discovery Museum awarded more than $250,000 in grants to expand early childhood STEAM programming

Children's Discovery Museum
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With the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, the STEAM program will more than quadruple its outreach — from 325 students to 1,500.

The Children’s Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal will get a significant boost to its early childhood STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programming thanks to two new grants.

The larger grant of nearly $250,000 comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant will make the Children’s Discovery Museum’s “Growing STEAM Potential Through the Power of Play” pre-k program available to four new locations: District 87’s Sarah E. Raymond Early Learning Center, Milestones Early Learning Center, Unit 5 Early Learning Program sites and YWCA Young Wonders.

With the IMLS grant, the STEAM program will more than quadruple its outreach — from 325 students to 1,500. The program, launched in 2011, creates field trips, in-class lessons and family events to enhance curriculum and give fun and playful experiences within STEAM to young students.

CDM Executive Director Beth Whisman said the award is both an incredible honor and a game-changing resource for museum staff.

“This grant represents a significant increase in our reach and impact, allowing us to expand our program and serve twice as many classrooms annually,” Whisman said in a statement. “Our community partners’ initial investments in this program built the launchpad for the type of expansion we are now on the cusp of."

Also awarded to the Children’s Discovery Museum is a grant from the PNC Foundation worth $15,000. It also will go to the STEAM program. The PNC Foundation has supplied nearly $500,000 to the Children’s Discovery Museum over the past decade.

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Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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