It Takes a Community

We are so fortunate to be located in Ferguson where are are surrounded by several prominent companies and foundations that are invested in our community and our future generation of innovators. The heart of the Challenger Learning Center’s programs are simulated space missions, which enable children to take on the roles of scientists, astronauts, and engineers.  Several area companies and foundations, including Emerson, The Boeing Company, Verizon, the Saigh Foundation, and the Missouri Space Grant Foundation have all provided funding to the Challenger Learning Center so that we can provide these immersive learning experiences to thousands of students and teachers in underrepresented communities throughout the St. Louis region,

Community support goes beyond offsetting costs for those with financial need: It also enables us to create new ways of supporting STEM learning in the St. Louis region.  Launching this fall, the Innovative Igniter program — funded by Emerson and executed in partnership with Maryville University — is one such initiative. Thanks to this community support, this program will deliver engineering enrichment activities as part of after school STEM clubs to approximately 200 under-resourced elementary and middle school students and professional development for ten “STEM Champion” educators. The program, which will take place during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, will include several area school districts, including: Ferguson-Florissant, Ritenour, Jennings, Riverview, and Normandy. In addition, students participating in the summer program at Maryville in 2020 and 20201 will have the opportunity to visit the Challenger Learning Center for simulated space missions and design engineering workshops.

Thanks to supporters, learning doesn’t take a summer vacation. Organizations such as the Clark-Fox Family Foundation’s Blueprint4Summer program provide us funding for summer camp scholarships so that more kids can participate in a week of STEM adventures. Meanwhile, Express Scripts is funding a special 3-day “Maker Camp” for educators looking to incorporate maker activities into their curriculum. The three-day astronomy-themed camp is a far cry from a typical teacher professional development, and will include lots of hands-on activities for teachers to jazz up their curriculum.

Visitors to the Challenger Learning Center can also look forward to a new outdoor rocket launch and shaded seating area for outdoor lunches and programming. The area, called the “Launch & Lunch” site is funded by the Employee Community Fund of Boeing-St. Louis. The fund, which is managed and controlled by Boeing employees, is a great example of how individuals pull together to gives back to St. Louis. This funding has enabled a great partnership with North and South Technical High Schools, who are helping to design and build the outdoor rocket launch area.

In addition to companies and foundations, we depend on support from individuals. One way that individuals have supported us is through the St. Louis Community Foundation’s GiveSTL Day, which will take place this year on May 1. The program provides an opportunity for individuals to learn about and support nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis area–and have the opportunity to win some pretty great prizes! Thank you to everyone who has supported us and continues to support us in some way–whether it is sharing about an experience participating in a simulated space mission with your friends and family, contributing your time or treasure to us, or by sharing a post from our FaceBook page or Twitter feed.

We hope that everyone in the community will have the opportunity to experience a Challenger Learning Center program–and benefit from the generosity of the St. Louis community.