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Preschoolers to benefit from $1 million grant to Science City

Science City gets a big cash boost

Officials with Science City on Wednesday announced that the children’s attraction has received a $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation for early childhood learning.
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Officials with Science City on Wednesday announced that the children’s attraction has received a $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation for early childhood learning.

Science City's new emphasis on early childhood education got a booster shot with the announcement Wednesday of a $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation.

The grant, to be spread over five years, will directly serve about 14,000 children on both sides of the state line and will reach hundreds of thousands more visitors a year to Science City at Union Station.

"We believe there is absolutely nothing that is more critical than investing in the education of our children," said PNC Regional President Dale Klose in announcing the grant.

It will pay for science programming at Science City, professional development for pre-kindergarten educators, free books and other resources for parents, field trips and a new multipurpose classroom at Science City. The effort is designed to encourage an interest in science among children as young as 3.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who has championed childhood literacy programs, said the project was close to his heart.

"They are 100 percent the future of the city and of our lives," James said of the children. "They will run this show. And if we do not take the time to show them the value of lifelong learning . . . then we have missed the mark. That is what we, as adults, are supposed to do."

While officials made the grant announcement on stage, more than 150 preschoolers from United Inner City Services downtown and Growing Futures Early Education Center in Overland Park enjoyed dry ice bubbles, colors and shapes and other fun and educational activities with PNC volunteers across Science City. It was part of a PNC service project in 35 cities.

Science City in October announced a new focus on early childhood learning with a $4 million grant from the Hall Family Foundation. The initiative was modeled in part on the Boston Children's Museum, which worked with Science City to develop the plan. It set aside 35,000 square feet of space for activities geared for children aged 7 and younger. Officials said at the time they would attempt to raise $3 million more.

The PNC Foundation is a philanthropic arm of PNC Financial Services Group. Since the program began in 2004 it has served 1.5 million children, the foundation said. The foundation has also helped to support Union Station's Gottlieb Planetarium for more than 10 years.

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