The Need for STEM Learning
Financial Aid and Community Partners
Studies show that, if engaged at an early age, students are more likely to pursue science in high school and college, potentially leading to careers in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math. This engagement is especially crucial for children from disadvantaged families, for whom the rapid growth of STEM-related careers provides an economic opportunity. Unfortunately, they also face even greater barriers to the STEM experiences necessary to open up these career paths. There is a documented and startling gap between the quality and availability of STEM courses at schools with a large population of low-income and minority students compared to those without. Title I schools are also less likely to offer field trips or other out-of-school enrichment opportunities as a result of focusing resources and instructional time on improving test outcomes. Providing a world-class institution for North Texas means not only ensuring that exhibits and programming stay on the cutting edge of new learning, but that the Perot Museum itself innovates in how we make those learning experiences available to the community.
School Outreach Programs
The Perot Museum is more than a collection of exhibits and specimens — it also consists of experts and educators who share a commitment to inspiring minds through nature and science. That is why we offer amaze-your-brain programming to help students connect with scientific concepts. However, between school district budget cuts, classroom demands on teachers, and travel costs, some schools are simply not able to travel to the Museum. The Museum is proud to deploy a fleet of educators who are equipped to bring the field trip experience directly into schools for students of all grade levels.
Whether schools participate in an outreach program on their own campus or visit the Museum itself, the financial aid program ensures that the ability to pay is never a barrier to learning by covering the cost of field trips and educational programming for schools that could not otherwise afford them. All schools receive a discounted rate of $5 per student, and also have the opportunity to apply for additional financial aid up to the full remaining cost. As a result of generous support from the philanthropic community, the Museum is able to distribute approximately $500,000 of financial aid each year, providing access for over 100,000 students. During the 2015-2016 school year, one out of every three students that participated in Museum experiences was able to do so because their school received financial aid. However, the requests for financial aid increase each and every year — not only from schools but also non-school-based organizations serving some of Dallas’ highest-need populations, such as the Genesis Women’s Shelter. The Museum believes that every child should have the opportunity to find their passion for learning, and we are so grateful for our partners who share this commitment and support the Museum in accommodating the growing needs of the community.
Summer vacation is a leading cause of the achievement gap in America's schools. While higher-income children spend their summers reinforcing STEM learning through camps, visits to museums, and family trips, financially disadvantaged communities often have little or no access to such opportunities. By the time each new school year begins in the fall, this lack of access to summer enrichment means that many children have already fallen behind their peers. In response to this challenge, the Community Partners program expands access to the Museum by offering $1 summer admission to families enrolled in state or federally funded supplemental programs. The hands-on design of the exhibits uniquely positions the Museum to provide an educational, inclusive, and overall positive experience for families who may be exploring DFW’s cultural institutions and/or STEM topics for the first time.
Three summers in, the Museum has welcomed over 32,000 people through the program, of whom 97% qualified as low-income and 85% represented racial/ethnic minorities. Data on the home zip codes of Community Partners visitors also showed that the program allowed the Museum to serve many neighborhoods that were otherwise almost entirely unrepresented among general admission visitors. This program would not be possible without general operating Community Partners support that allows the Museum to offer subsidized admission.
To reach North Texas residents beyond the building itself, the Museum launched the TECH Trucks — mobile discovery labs where participants can Tinker, Engineer, Create, and Hack right in their own neighborhoods. The goal of this program is to engage youth and their families in hands-on, maker-based science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) experiences that foster creativity and confidence during out-of-school time. The TECH Trucks connect with participants through free engagements at community centers, libraries, parks, and public events. In just the first year, the TECH Trucks served more than 30,000 participants, and the impact of this program in underserved neighborhoods is already being felt.
Help the community
Make a Gift
If you would like to donate to one of these programs that directly impact our community right here in DFW, please contact to Christina Cavalier, Vice President of Major Gifts and Foundation Giving.