Nonprofit Spotlight: Mississippi Children's Museum | Atmos Energy

Nonprofit Spotlight: Mississippi Children's Museum

Nonprofit Spotlight
July 1, 2021

In 1994, a group of community volunteers saw an urgent need to improve the health, literacy, and well-being of Mississippi’s children, and so the idea of the Mississippi Children’s Museum (MCM) was born.  By 2003the Junior League of Jackson undertook a $26.6 million capital campaign and led a statewide team comprised of educational partners, community and business leaders, elected officials, parents, volunteers, children, and nationally recognized children’s museum experts with a goal to build a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, statewide children’s museum.  By December 2010, MCM in Jackson opened its doors offering the community a 40,000 square foot museum with five galleries of educational, interactive exhibits and enriching weekly programs that focus on literacy; health and nutrition; cultural arts; science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM); and Mississippi heritage.   

With a mission to create unparalleled experiences to inspire excellence and a lifelong joy of learning, by 2014 MCM opened a sixth outdoor gallery called The Literacy Garden, combining experiential artworks with unique landscape architecture that encourages early language and reading skills development.   

After seeing the success and benefits of MCM throughout the state and specifically in the greater Jackson community, by spring of 2021, a second MCM location was opened in Meridian to serve the children of east Mississippi.  MCM-Meridian is state-of-the-art 25,000 square foot building, with an additional 25,000 square feet outside, featuring interior exhibits and an outdoor exhibit experience designed for Mississippi’s youngest residentsas well as their entire circle of influence.  The outdoor exhibit called My Fantastical Backyard was designed to inspire children to unleash their imagination and experience the physical benefits of playing outdoors. 
 
MCM makes learning fun and continues to provide memorable and unique experiences for our Mississippi families,” said Ashley Day, Atmos Energy executive assistant.  “We are proud to partner with MCM and support our most vulnerable children with quality educational materials that will make a significant and positive difference in their future. 

Through its Fueling Safe and Thriving Communities program, since 2014 Atmos Energy has donated more than $200,000 to support various programs, exhibits, and fundraising events focused on providing hands-on, place-based experiences, specialized learning opportunitiesand educational programming for all families.  From Thomas the Train Engine exhibit to the annual Ignite the Night fundraising event, to the construction of the Meridian Museumto an intensive summer reading camp called Read to Succeed (RTS)to supporting Launch into Learning, a safe and educational learning space during the pandemicAtmos Energy is committed to improving the childhood literacy development of Mississippi’s children.  

MCM’s RTS summer camp is focused on helping students pass Mississippi’s third-grade reading summative assessment.  Third graders take this test in their spring semester, and students who fail have two more chances to take the test during the following summer. If they fail these subsequent assessments, they are held back,” said Linda Waters, Atmos Energy manager of public affairs. “Our partnership has made it possible for MCM to provide a week of literacy-based lessons to students from Jackson Public Schools, including four daily lessons covering comprehension, phonics, and vocabulary taught by certified teachers and one-on-one tutoring with camp volunteers.” 

In 2018: 

  • Fifty-five percent of RTS students passed the state third-grade summative reading assessment.  

  • More than 70 percent of RTS students showed gains on the assessment, with a total of 877 points gained after the camp.   

  • One student gained 81 points, going from a starting score of 877 to a 958, exceeding the 926 score required to pass the assessment.  

“Atmos Energy’s partnership with MCM has strengthened the museum by allowing us to offer nationally recognized summer exhibits to our community so that children from across the state can experience these incredible learning opportunities,” said Susan Garrard, Mississippi Children’s Museum president and CEO.  “Additionally, during the pandemic, Atmos Energy’s support of our Launch into Learning program allowed us to work directly with children who were disproportionately affected by school closures and make a tremendous difference in the lives of these students.  We are grateful for our partnership and look forward to collaborating for years to come.” 

To plan your visit to MCM and learn more about their exhibits and programs please visit,  https://mschildrensmuseum.org/