We may not be able to meet in person during this time, but development work continues with the help of grants and donations from individuals and organizations in our community. In these challenging economic times, GiveMN is running a #GiveAtHomeMN campaign complete with $68,000 in prize drawings. By making any size donation to Great River Children’s Museum between May 1-8th, you help qualify the museum for prizes. Go show your support for a children’s museum in downtown St. Cloud by visiting givemn.org and making a donation during the first week of May. Your participation in this event will demonstrate the abundance of generosity and hope for the future that still exists in this time of crisis. We continue to strive for a better future for the children of Central Minnesota! One where they have a place to come together to create, explore, discover and be inspired through the extraordinary power of play.
We will soon be kicking off our capital campaign! Through the museum planning process our financial goals are becoming more clearly defined. We continue to have operating expenses for the project that are similar to start-up costs for any new business. We are grateful to all the volunteers who have been donating time so generously. The project has been operating on volunteer passion for several years now with the recent addition of hired consultants who have assisted with marketing, museum planning, architecture and other specialties. The project has also undertaken some minor construction costs to make the building safe for people touring and for guests of our roundtable discussions and PEL Labs. Every dollar we raise now helps to propel this project forward. It is also our hope to ready ourselves for hiring our first employees, beginning with an executive director, in the coming months.
With the autumn season upon us, please consider the Great River Children’s Museum in your year end giving plans.
Greg Reigstad and Sara McKeever took a box of Cold Spring Bakery goods down to the state Capitol where they met up with Rep. Dan Wolgamott. Their task was to convince the Legacy Finance Committee to advance a bill requesting $525,000 for museum development. The baked goods fulfilled a tradition that calls for treats to be served by a congressperson presenting their first bill in committee. As a father of young children, Rep. Wolgamott was able to add a personal touch as he spoke about why he put forth this bill. Sara talked about her experience as a kindergarten teacher, then gave a presentation explaining the history of this project and what we hope to accomplish in the future. Greg spoke from the perspective of a grandfather as he fielded questions and provided some comic relief. We enjoyed the opportunity to share our project and hope to see funds appropriated from the Arts and Culture Legacy Fund over the course of the next two biennium.
This funding would go a long way toward renovating the building to make it suitable for public events and creating exhibit spaces on the main floor. You can help by contacting your legislators and letting them know you would like them to support H.F. 396, authored by both Dan Wolgamott and Tama Theis. Please reach out to your senators as well. Thanks to the work of Senator Jerry Relph who introduced S.F. 645, we will have the chance to present our case to the Senate committee in early April. Follow the progress of these two bills at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/
A wonderful year-end surprise came to our PayPal account thanks to everyone at the St. Cloud SCHEELS store. The Great River Children’s Museum received a generous donation via the museum’s website. Chris Theisen, Assistant Store Leader, shared with us that, “SCHEELS is very happy to provide this donation. Being familiar with how Liberty donated the building really caught our eye, and we just wanted to be a part of what we agree will make a great addition to our community.”
It is touching when people take the initiative to improve their community in whatever ways they are able. We all can be inspired by this company’s focus on community involvement.
The museum project began in 2012 at the dining room table of Glen Palm and Jane Ellison. It has gone through many stages in its evolution. Now, as it begins to take on physical form at the downtown location, let us take a look back at the many milestones along the way.
- Established Great River Children’s Exploratorium as a 501c3
- Met with community leaders/groups
- Joined the Association of Children’s Museums as an emerging museum
- Studied children’s museums in similar sized midwest communities
- Completed a needs assessment
- Collaborated with CentraCare Health System to bring the Healthyville exhibit to the Stearns History Museum
- Created a planning team
- Discussed a second pop-up exhibit in collaboration with early childhood programs
- Met with Minnesota Children’s Museum staff and toured $30 million expansion
- Attended webinar with SCSU faculty/staff about collaboration between children’s museums & universities
- Explored building sites for a future location
- Recruited and expanded board membership to 14 members
- Ran a successful matching campaign for a $25,000 grant
- Formed committees and refined the mission statement during a board retreat
- Met with museum planners Jeanne Vergeront and Jim Roe
- Changed name to Great River Children’s Museum
- Finalized building donation by Liberty Bank in downtown St. Cloud
- Legislation introduced for Legacy funding
Contact your representatives and ask them to support HF396 which provides funding for the Great River Children’s Museum. This bill was authored by Dan Wolgamott and Tama Theis. The companion bill in the senate is SF645 and was introduced by Senator Jerry Relph.
St. Cloud Unschooling Network recently reached out to the Great River Children’s Museum through their leader Mandy Spiczka with exciting news. They had heard about a non-profit group bringing a children’s museum to the area and voted to give their annual fundraising dollars to the Great River Children’s Museum! The group of homeschooling friends, which includes children from babies to teens as well as their parents, meets on a regular basis at the Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud, another community organization the group has elected to support in the past.
Every year the students and parents in the group use their talents to create arts and crafts which they sell to other group members, friends and family during their holiday market. They are able to help each other do their holiday shopping while learning a wide array of academic and life skills. When board members Glen Palm and Sara McKeever arrived for the presentation of the donation, the sale was wrapping up and the children were happily playing.
The parents expressed their excitement about the museum project. They wanted to support an organization that shares their values of creating space in children’s lives for learning through play and the importance of adults creating, exploring and discovering the world alongside children. We were humbled and honored by their gift of $355.25! The funds will be used to prepare space in the new building where community members can come to plan and dream about the museum we will create together.
We have reached our matching goal! Releasing these funds is a great step for our organization. It has been a wonderful way to engage smaller donors to help them make a larger impact. We hope another donor will come forward with a new match to help us continue this momentum!
We have met with a board developer, museum planner, and professional fundraiser to discuss how they can help our group as we go forward with this big project. They have given us bids for their work which the board will consider at our next meeting. All have wonderful skills and would be assets to our project. We will need to decide what makes the most sense for our next steps as we look forward to taking ownership of the Liberty Bank building in December. Our immediate fundraising needs are for initial costs estimated at $250,000. These funds will pay for such things as professional consultants, building maintenance, and community outreach. We will then focus on covering the cost of renovations and exhibits, which will be near $10 million.
We trust that as building designs are being developed, local businesses will choose to sponsor various features and exhibits. We will be reaching out to businesses in the coming months. In the meantime, if you are connected to an organization that would like to discuss sponsoring an exhibit, please reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to one of our board members.
Donations are always being accepted to help with startup costs. Send your tax deductible donation now via PayPal or mail a check to our treasurer at:
Great River Children’s Exploratorium
℅ Greg Reigstad
1126 7th Avenue North
Saint Cloud, MN 56303
The Great River Children’s Exploratorium has a $25,000 matching pledge to add to our development fund! The first $25,000 in donations will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. This is a wonderful way to double the impact of your gift. Send your tax deductible donation now via PayPal or mail a check to our treasurer at:
Great River Children’s Exploratorium
℅ Greg Reigstad
1126 7th Avenue North
Saint Cloud, MN 56303