Millions of tourists flock to Florida every year for the beaches, the amusement parks, the sunshine and the Everglades. Ask folks about their plans and you’re sure to hear excited kids talk about meeting their favorite mouse in person or happy adults explain how they’re looking forward to quiet time at beachside resorts. Not many people would tell you about plans to take advantage of top-notch learning opportunities in the Sunshine State, but Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) sends many kids, and parents, home with newfound enthusiasm for learning about the world around them and the forces that affect it.
The museum engages tourists and locals alike through exhibits, programs and films that provide experiential pathways to lifelong learning in science. Bank of America has been proud to support MODS as both a donor and a lender over the years. In fact, Bank of America awarded MODS an anchor grant of $1 million in 2008 to support expansion of the museum’s facility, specifically a pavilion that provides easy access to visitor services as well as space for science demonstrations. And later this year, the museum will host the grand opening of the museum’s new EcoDiscovery Center that was also funded in part by that 2008 grant.
In order to stay relevant and exciting to visitors of all ages, the museum has taken a 2-step approach to smart growth. First, it built a broad base of support in the local community by actively recruiting teachers as museum members and by designing exhibits that help students better understand topics that are measured in Florida’s standardized testing program, FCAT. As a result of the museum’s close partnership with the Broward County Schools, over 90,000 children visit MODS annually in school groups—more than any other cultural institution in the region.
With that solid foundation in place, the museum has been able to create and attract the types of exhibits and activities that make it an exciting tourist destination as well as a valued member of the local teaching community. The high level of enthusiasm makes the museum a more attractive place to donate money and time, as well as a creditworthy investment for leading corporations.
When the new EcoDiscovery Center opens, the museum expects annual attendance to top 600,000, including 100,000 students on school field trips. The added classroom and lab space will quadruple the number of available locations for children participating in science demos.
Patrick Flynn, the Museum’s Executive Vice President for Development, points out that MODS’ relationship with Bank of America goes beyond just financial support. “The $1 million facilities grant was certainly the king of the hill, but the generosity of the bank over time has been extraordinary. Bank of America has been the lead sponsor for our Wine and Culinary Celebration for years now. Bank team members have also been extremely generous with their time. From [Senior Vice President] Mark Peterson, who sits on our board, to the folks who help us by volunteering and serving as community ambassadors for our projects, we always feel like we’re working with trusted colleagues who are committed to helping MODS serve our community.”
Even though the Museum of Discovery and Science is a not-for-profit entity, it’s clear to see how its presence has benefitted Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. “Bank of America enjoys working with businesses and charities that make a difference in our communities,” says Mr. Peterson, Senior Vice President at Bank of America and MODS Board member. “Our team is proud to support the phenomenal growth at the Museum of Discovery and Science.”
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