The Explore & More Children’s Museum received another big boost in funding today, via a “challenge grant” capital and endowment gift from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The challenge grant is in the amount of $6,000,000, half of which will be used for construction costs, while the other half will be earmarked for an endowment fund to ensure the museum’s future stability. The challenge grant is designed to allow the Foundation to match future contributions by public, private, and individual contributors. The funds also warranted a new name for the museum: Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum.
“Explore & More is humbled by the creativity and commitment that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, its trustees, staff and of course its namesake have displayed with this monumental gift,” said Michelle Urbanczyk, Chief Executive Officer at Explore & More. “This is truly a watershed moment for our organization and the children and families of Western New York. And it is also the very latest and largest sign that our project continues to gain unstoppable momentum as we work with the community to bring our new museum to the finish line.”
“We are thrilled to introduce the renamed Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum and couldn’t be more honored to be part of such a critical initiative that will positively impact children and families from across the region,” said David O. Egner, President & Chief Executive Officer at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The Foundation continues to believe that strengthening community is a team sport—and this project demonstrates that fact.”
“This is a watershed moment for Buffalo’s children, waterfront revitalization within our city, and of course Explore & More,” said David McNamara, Chair of the Explore & More Play It Forward capital campaign. “This contribution from the Wilson Foundation positions us well to raise the additional dollars needed to complete the Play it Forward capital campaign, while also strategically placing funds into an endowment, which will help make sure that the museum’s doors stay forever open. I’m also very excited about how this challenge grant will motivate the Western New York community to get behind our project even more. We plan to begin focusing on individual donors with the more public-facing component of our capital campaign later this summer, and will have details of that effort released in the coming months.”
Attendees as today’s announcement included elected officials (including New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul), community, business and philanthropic leaders, private donors, as well as staff, board members, trustees of both the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Explore & More, and a delegation of students from the BPS Waterfront Elementary School.
“This generous donation by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will expand exhibits and programs for students at the Explore & More Children’s Museum, providing critical learning opportunities for young people,” said Lt. Governor Hochul. “The expansion project continues the waterfront development of the Canalside district and is yet another investment that is helping to shape the new Buffalo.”
The museum is on track to open in the fourth quarter of 2018, featuring seven educational play zones, which are anticipated to attract 250,000 visitors to Canalside each year.
“This project touches on so many of the critical service areas that our Foundation is dedicated to,” continued Egner. “Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum will be an economic contributor and anchor to the expanding Canalside district, while also creating educational and early-learning experiences for children through play, camaraderie and connectivity.”
To learn more about Explore & More Children’s Museum or how you can donate to the Play It Forward capital campaign, visit exploreandmore.org.