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Philanthropy Friday: COSI

 columbus imPRessions Philanthropy Friday: COSI
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“I would like to thank you for funding my fourth grade class’s trip to COSI. I appreciate it and I am grateful because it was educational.”

Most people might not realize that COSI is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that supports science education through many initiatives. Unlike many not-for-profit organizations, COSI only receives a small percentage of public or government operating funds.

To kick-off the new year, Philanthropy Friday did an interview with COSI Director of Advertising & Promotion, Carli Lanfersiek.

M: Give me a brief background on the organization. How did it start?

C: The original idea for COSI was born during a business trip to Chicago in 1957 by Sanford N. (Sandy) Hallock ll. While there, he visited the Museum of Science and Industry which he loved visiting as a boy. After his visit, Sandy’s lifelong interest in science and technology led him to pursue the dream of creating a Museum of Science and Industry in Columbus, and in 1958 he wrote the original proposal for a Center of Science and Industry.

Sandy then took the idea to a business acquaintance, Herschel Stephan. Mr. Stephan was the President of the Franklin County Historical Society. He took the idea of creating a science museum to the Historical Society’s board of Trustees. In November of 1961, the Board presented a formal plan to establish a Center of Science and Industry to the Franklin County Commissioners, who were trying to preserve Memorial Hall. With the help of Preston Wolfe, publisher of the Columbus Dispatch, in October 1962, the Franklin County Commissioners agreed to allocate the funds needed for the renovation of Memorial Hall.

Sandy, Mr. Stephan, and Historical Society Director/Secretary Dan Prugh took the plan and a model of the Center all over the city to business leaders to gain their support and to convince them to build and sponsor exhibitions that would become part of the new Center housed at Memorial Hall. During 1963, Memorial Hall was remodeled to accommodate the new Center.

COSI opened to the public on March 29,1964. That first day, an Easter Sunday, COSI welcomed more than 5,000 guests, who paid 50 cents for an adult and 25 cents for a youth admission.

After 35 years in Memorial Hall, COSI moved to its current location in downtown Columbus at 333 West Broad Street on November 6, 1999. Internationally renowned architect Arata Isozaki designed the 320,000 square foot building to showcase the future of COSI. Since 1964, COSI has welcomed nearly 20 million visitors from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries.

M: Whom do you serve? Who can benefit from your organization?

C: COSI provides an exciting and informative atmosphere for those of all ages to discover more about our environment, our accomplishments, our heritage, and ourselves. We motivate a desire toward a better understanding of science, industry, health, and history through involvement in exhibits, demonstrations, and a variety of educational activities and experiences. COSI is for the enrichment of the individual and for a more rewarding life on our planet, Earth.

M: What are the programs and services you offer?

C: COSI is about inspiring interest in science and encouraging people to want to learn more about our world. COSI specializes in preparing today’s children for success in school, supporting Family Learning, where some of the most meaningful lessons occur, and working with schools to prepare children for a knowledge-based economy: one that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math to help prepare our community for the future. To see all the education programs COSI has to offer, click here.

M: Do you have any fundraising campaigns going on? How can people donate?

C: COSI is currently soliciting gifts to support access to COSI to all families. A gift of just $25 provides a family in need with a year of learning at COSI. With this gift, parents experiencing financial hardships can share the excitement and wonder of hands-on science with their children– fostering a love for learning that will last for life.

“Having grown up with COSI myself, I am glad I can continue to bring my own children, even during this difficult economy. ” ~ Frank B., Family Access Member

Donations can be made online.

M: What are some other needs or ways to donate?

C: At COSI, we think it’s never too early or too late to learn how to live gracefully on our planet. In fact, creating new programs and new exhibits that help you, your family, and neighbors understand energy and the environment is one of our top priorities.

Every day there is a news story about the environment and the importance and urgency of addressing environmental issues. While it is a global issue, it is also an issue of local importance. Through our own research and conversations with COSI Members, the community, educators and employers, we have heard a clear call for COSI to be a place where the community can learn more about energy and the environment.

COSI is addressing this important issue by creating programs and experiences that exploring how natural cycles and systems are interwoven with human energy use and encouraging action on that knowledge. We are doing this through groundbreaking collaborations with university and corporate partners who will help us answer the question:

To support the green momentum at COSI, including new experiences such as Lily Pad, Rain Garden, Ohio Prairie, and the Pod House, please donate online.

M: What types of volunteer opportunities do you have within your organization?

C: Volunteers from the community play a crucial role in helping COSI to deliver inspiring and engaging science experiences. We accept volunteers from ages 12 through adult, from all backgrounds to deliver a wide variety of COSI experiences.

We will match your time commitment, talents and interests with COSI’s needs to find the perfect fit. Time commitment varies from regularly scheduled volunteers who serve two to four days per month, ten to sixteen hours per week for college interns and on a per-event basis for community and corporate partner volunteers.

Learn more about COSI’s volunteer opportunities, career ladder program, internships and more, HERE.

M: Do you use social media in any way? If so, how?

C: COSI is very active in social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social sites, as well as engaging with thousands of mobile and enews subscribers. Follow COSI on Twitter, “Like” COSI on Facebook, or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Philanthropy Friday is a feature article by Michele Savoldi that will highlight a Columbus area non-profit organization every other week. For more nonprofit information follow Michele on Twitter at @cbusimpressions and @inkindconnect.

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