Thursday, May 22, 2014

MORE Great News: Museum Receives Nonprofit Leadership Award

Providence Children's Museum has been selected by the Rhode Island Foundation’s Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence to receive its 2014 Best Practice Award in Leadership!

Sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the Best Practice Awards honor Rhode Island nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated outstanding practices in the areas of advocacy, collaboration, communications, innovation and leadership. The Museum will receive the leadership award for increasing operational efficiencies by defining strong strategic priorities, restructuring staff and adding expertise to create a strong staff leadership team.

As part of our most recent strategic plan, the leadership team sought community input, tested assumptions, and questioned everything to define clear operational and programmatic objectives:
  • Effective, engaging and frequently changing exhibits
  • Outreach to underserved children and families
  • Leadership role in the free play movement
  • Financial resources to accomplish goals
  • Well-qualified, highly motivated staff
  • Sufficient physical facilities and technology


With increased capacity and clear priorities, we have greatly enhanced our offerings and deepened our impact in the community and are achieving major goals:
  • Implementing a multi-year plan for changing exhibits, resulting in steadily and sustainably increasing numbers of visitors.
  • Strategically targeting outreach to Providence’s Southside to increase impact: daily presence at Boys & Girls Club Southside, partnership with Fogarty and Highlander schools, pop-up play at neighborhood parks. 
  • Opened a new homelike facility to serve DCYF-involved families, expanding capacity of our Families Together program.
  • Taking a leadership role to promote the essential role of free play in children’s healthy development. 
  • Seizing opportunities that increase revenues and enhance the Museum’s image. 

Thanks to the Rhode Island Foundation for this wonderful honor!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Floating Fantasies

Discover Floating Fantasies, the newest display featuring the Museum’s collection of historic Betty Huestis marionettes.  Creator Ashley Moore, an AmeriCorps Museum Educator, described her scene as “a lilypad wonderland… fun, fanciful and kind of dreamlike.”

“When I was a kid, I really liked fairy tales and anything fanciful, so I wanted to bring that to life,” said Ashley.  See a ballerina dance for an audience of bullfrogs, a leprechaun with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a father and daughter fishing from a raft and more, plus scan the pond for long lost treasures.


 Floating Fantasies is on view until August – take a peek on your next visit!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Great News! Museum Receives AmeriCorps Funding

On Wednesday, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced $205 million in grants to fund 288 AmeriCorps programs and the service of 43,000 AmeriCorps members nationally. Providence Children’s Museum is one of only two organizations in Rhode Island to receive full federal funding in the highly competitive 2014 grant cycle.

The Museum’s program was awarded a 3-year grant and will receive $159,600 annually from the CNCS for 12 full-time AmeriCorps members.  The Museum has been an AmeriCorps site since 1997 and has served over 20,000 children through innovative outreach to inner-city schools, community centers and Head Start programs.  With this funding, the Museum will welcome its 19th AmeriCorps team in the fall.

Designed to help close the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children, the Museum’s AmeriCorps program provides stimulating interactive learning experiences not available to most low-income children.  Under the guidance of Museum education staff, AmeriCorps members work to inspire a lifetime love of learning, providing enriched learning experiences for all greater Providence Head Start preschoolers and conducting Learning Clubs for inner-city school-age children.


The Museum’s 2014-15 AmeriCorps members will:
  • Implement engaging play-based classroom activities that encourage problem solving in all 56 Children’s Friend Head Start classrooms, serving 1,000 3- to 5-year-olds and supporting Head Start’s goal of improving school readiness.
  • Guide Head Start children on classroom field trips to the Museum for hands-on play and learning.
  • Deliver Learning Clubs – hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) enrichment activities with a focus on math – for 200 low-income 2nd-4th graders in after-school and summer programs at the Boys & Girls Club and Highlander Charter School in South Providence.
  • Support recess by facilitating play-based activities at Highlander Charter School and Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School.
  • Welcome all Head Start and Learning Club program participants and their families to Family Nights at the Children’s Museum, where they receive free year-long Museum passes.

“Bringing hands-on fun and learning to thousands of disadvantaged kids each year, AmeriCorps greatly increases the Museum’s capacity to serve families who need it most,” said Museum Executive Director Janice O’Donnell.


Click here for more information about the Museum’s AmeriCorps program. 

Federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service must be matched by private support.  The Museum’s AmeriCorps program is also supported by Serve Rhode Island and currently receives additional funding from Amgen Foundation; Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation; The John Clarke Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee; Cox Charities of New England Fund; CVS Caremark Charity Classic; Frank B. Hazard General Charity Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; Sovereign Bank Foundation; Textron Charitable Trust; UnitedHealthcare of New England; and donors to the Museum's Annual Campaign.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Year in Review

On Tuesday evening, Museum Board members, staff, volunteers and friends celebrated the accomplishments of 2013 and the importance of learning through play at our annual meeting.

Did you know that in 2013, Providence Children’s Museum:
  • Welcomed a record 166,227 visitors, 29% free of charge. 
  • Brought engaging hands-on activities to over 1,000 Head Start preschoolers and 600 school-age kids through after-school and summer programs at inner-city community centers.
  •  Hosted 1,350 low-income children and their family members at free Museum family nights.
  • Took open-ended, creative play experiences to 930 kids and family members in neighborhood parks across Providence.
  • Conducted therapeutic visits for 530 children and parents in nearly 200 court-separated families.
  • Provided 400 charitable memberships to children and families in need. 

And MUCH more! Download our 2013 Annual Report to get the full story, and take a look back at some of last year's highlights, in words and photos: