Submitted by Hands On Children’s Museum

The Hands On Children’s Museum (HOCM) and WSECU today announced a major new partnership to expand access to the museum’s award-winning early learning programs for South Sound children and families, especially those who are underserved. The credit union will become the exclusive naming sponsor of the museum’s new “Inspired Learning for All” initiative.

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WSECU’s sponsorship provides important funds to expand the Hands On Children’s Museum educational outreach programs. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum.

The significance of this partnership is two-fold: it will help expand the museum’s innovative exhibits and programs, while also supporting increased access to key underserved populations.

“We are very excited and thankful that WSECU is stepping up in such a big way to help us to take high quality exhibits, programs, and outreach to expanded audiences,” said Lauren Pitman, HOCM board chair. “The museum is firmly committed to making interactive learning available to all, while removing all barriers to access. Currently, one-third of our 305,000 annual visitors receive free or reduced-fee admission, and we know that there are many more children we could be serving.”

The credit union pledge of $225,000 annually over the next five years will allow the museum to expand its mobile educational programs, increase subsidized field trips for schools serving low-income student populations, and offer free admission to any family receiving state basic food assistance through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

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The sponsorship also increases the number of free field trips for schools serving low-income populations. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum.

“The Hands On Children’s Museum has established itself as the region’s premiere early learning destination and is an incredible asset to the South Sound,” said WSECU Board Chair Marcus Glasper. “We can’t think of a better way to launch our 60th anniversary celebration than by investing in an organization that, like the credit union, is firmly committed to helping people prepare for a brighter future.”

Patty Belmonte, executive director of the Hands On Children’s Museum, said, “The launch of the new ‘Inspired Learning for All’ initiative is an exciting next step in the museum’s growth. The reality is, demand for free and reduced-fee access continues to grow. WSECU’s partnership, along with continued, generous community support, will help us serve more children with special needs, foster parents, military families, clients of social service agencies, and other low-income, at-risk, and underserved communities. We are so grateful for their investment in the museum and the community at large.”

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WSECU’s five-year sponsorship ensures free admission to any family receiving state basic food assistance. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum.

Local educators and community leaders called the agreement an important development for the region.

“Our students have benefitted so much from access to the experiential learning opportunities at Hands On over the years,” said Sean Shaughnessy, principal of Roosevelt Elementary School in Olympia. “It’s exciting to think that many more students at our school and throughout the South Sound are going to be able to learn from these experiences because of the WSECU commitment.”

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WSECU members will be welcome to the Hands On Children’s Museum on the first Wednesday of each month. During “WSECU Wednesday,” credit union members receive a 50 percent discount on admission. Photo courtesy: Hands On Children’s Museum.

Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby said, “The City of Olympia has been a proud partner in the growth of the Hands On Children’s Museum over the years.  We sincerely value the impact it’s had on our efforts to draw tourists and attract investment downtown. This new sponsorship agreement with WSECU brings together two of Olympia’s leading, family-oriented organizations in a partnership that will benefit our entire city and region.”

WSECU President and CEO Kevin Foster-Keddie noted the partnership is unique in that it will both serve the broader community and add value to being a credit union member. As the naming sponsors of the “Inspired Learning for All” initiative, WSECU members will receive several special benefits, including a 10 percent discount on museum memberships and 50 percent discount on admission on “WSECU Wednesdays” that will be held on the first Wednesday of each month.

“We know many credit union members are regular visitors to the museum,” said Foster-Keddie. “It’s great to be able to offer them special benefits with this partnership while also helping the museum sustain and grow in the coming years.”

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