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Zoo New England receives $100,000 Grant from the Cummings $20 Million Grant Program

cummings grantZoo New England announced today that it has received a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation to fund its new Family Nature Adventure Program.

Zoo New England is committed to ensuring that all members of the community have the opportunity to experience the wonders of wildlife regardless of age or economic circumstances. Our Zoos aim to provide children and families in need with access to positive outdoor opportunities that incorporate family relationship building, environmental education and physical activity.

“We are thrilled and deeply grateful to the Cummings Foundation for their support of Zoo New England’s Family Nature Adventure Program. The Family Nature Programs will support children and families by helping to reduce the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences, poverty, and trauma in kids and families by providing enriching adventures in zoos and nature, as well as positive outdoor opportunities that incorporate family relationship building, environmental education, and physical activity “said Cynthia Mead, Executive Vice President of External Affairs and Programming. “As cultural institutions, Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo are able to impact the lives of these children and families in a positive way and the Cummings Foundation is instrumental in helping us achieve this”

The Family Nature Adventure Program will offer families fun, healthy and educational opportunities both at the Zoo and in nature. The program will include free daytime admission to Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo for participants; Adventure Kits to help guide outdoor exploration and learning; workshops at the Zoo for children and families; and programs and activities with Zoo New England staff.

Adventure Kits will contain educational activities along with the necessary tools and materials designed to engage both children and adults, including outdoor scavenger hunts, paper and drawing materials, binoculars, magnifying glasses, bug or butterfly nets, and species identification kits. Families are encouraged to continue their exploration of nature beyond the Zoo, and kits can be borrowed to guide activities in nearby parks, beaches or backyards. Kits will be designed to highlight different animals at each site to familiarize families with Massachusetts wildlife and call attention to the importance of different habitats.

Activities will be developed using the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework to align with age-appropriate learning goals. For example, one adventure kit may focus on local plant and animal life in the Middlesex Fells, fostering appreciation for wildlife among young children while teaching older children about changing seasons. Another kit might focus on a trip to the ocean or lake and include activities to sort rocks for younger learners and teach the precipitation cycle for older learners.

Kits will reflect the diversity of program participants. Written instructions will be translated into multiple languages to include Boston’s most spoken languages: English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Chinese.

In addition, workshops and programs led by Zoo staff will help familiarize caregivers and children with kit activities and materials. These workshops will provide skill development for caregivers, teaching them techniques for inspiring and connecting with children through communication, empathy and reflection.

Zoo New England has a 28-year proven track record of providing quality educational programming conducted by experienced teachers and program staff. Through community programs, the Zoo engages members of our neighborhoods, particularly children from underserved communities, in forming lasting connections with nature and laying a strong foundation for future learning.

Through the new Cummings $20 Million Grant Program, Cummings Foundation will award a total of $20 million to 130 local-area nonprofits in 2020. The Cummings $20 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts non-profits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.