Steady Stream of Multimillion Dollar Gifts Propels Cox Science Center and Aquarium
The Cox Science Center and Aquarium (CSCA) is starting 2023 with momentum for a newly increased capital campaign goal of $85 million. On the heels of a pre-holiday gift of $8 million from Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, leadership for CSCA announced two additional $5 million gifts from Leonard Lauder and the David H. Koch Foundation.
"Just one year ago we launched a hugely significant campaign for the Science Center," said Lew Crampton, CSCA board chairman and capital campaign chairman, "and thanks to tremendous support, we are confident in expanding our original plans with a new goal of $85 million. We know Palm Beach County deserves a new, cutting-edge science center and our supporters agree."
According to donors, the CSCA's clear vision, focused leadership and creative ideas were key to their support. Momentum for the expansion campaign has already generated more than $62 million of its $85 million total goal in just over one year's time. Whether inspired by education opportunities or their grandchildren's love of the Science Center, all three of the most significant recent gifts reflect a love of water.
Known for his catalytic giving across a range of areas including education and STEM initiatives, Griffin's gift was among the first major gifts to follow the Cox donation. His funding is earmarked for the CSCA's new aquarium, featuring 200,000 gallons to take visitors through the Everglades, Florida's inland rivers and Gulf Stream waters. With a focus on sharing the South Florida native's love of the ocean, Griffin's funding will also improve interactive experiences in Florida's fifth largest aquarium – impacting nearly 500,000 students annually, 70 percent of whom attend Title 1 schools.
Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies' $5 million in funding will support the Coral Reefs exhibit in the new Aquarium – showcasing the colorful beauty of reef fish alongside propagated coral "frags," which will tell the story of avant-garde coral research happening in Palm Beach County.
"When I was a young boy, I went to museums after school," said Lauder. "Stepping into a museum was like entering another world, and I just loved it! I learned so much about art and history from those afternoons. When I look at the creative ways the Cox Science Center engages young people, I'm absolutely thrilled. Imagine learning about coral reefs at the new Aquarium. Experiences like that can be life-changing and, equally important, fun!"
A $5 million gift from the David H. Koch Foundation will honor Julia Koch's late husband's philanthropy around science, education and the cultural arts with an interactive fountain to greet visitors. An artistic representation of "STEAM" – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – the fountain will set the tone as guests enter the new state-of-the-art space for the expanded aquarium, permanent and traveling exhibitions, and upgraded observatory.
"As a trained chemical engineer, David was passionate about enhancing research and education in science," said Julia Koch. "I can think of no better way to honor his memory in this community than with this new fountain bearing his name. Its double-helix design accentuates the importance of the arts in STEAM education to the Cox Science Center's nearly 1 million annual visitors."
The Lauder and Koch families are life-long friends and their joint support of this STEAM-focused campaign will impact millions of learners for generations.
Kate Arrizza, President and CEO for CSCA said, "Our strategic planning process has considered the projected growth of Palm Beach and surrounding counties – among the fastest in the nation. The expanded campaign goal will allow us to grow our attendance capabilities to serve nearly 1 million guests annually."
New additions to CSCA's expanded plans include:
- An interactive extended reality experience, which will be an immersive space featuring 40-foot-tall projections on all four walls, displaying signature programs from rocket launches to deep sea exploration. Visitors will be able to directly interact with the projections using touch screens.
- An expanded traveling exhibit designed to host more megahit exhibitions.
- A Digital Arts Studio, which will expand to provide more skill set training such as software programming that aligns with high-demand jobs. An outreach program in partnership with Florida Atlantic University will digitize and nationally distribute the Center's current video programs.
- An indoor/outdoor exhibit area designed for early learners ages 6 and under.
- Expanded programming in the Dekelboum Planetarium and Observatory.
- An immersive learning lab that will serve as home base for FIRST LEGO League Teams and competitions.
- An expanded biology lab that consolidates the Center's preferred provider status to all medical magnet schools in Palm Beach County. Currently, the Center provides 30,000 frog/squid/shark/pig dissections annually, which could be doubled in the new space.
- Expansion of the existing STEM Education Center that houses a state-of-the-art 3D printing program, coding instruction, and the Palm Beach Florida Chess Club.
- The Center's educational partnership with the Palm Beach County School District (the 10th largest district in the nation) will grow, doubling schools served to over 200, including 70 percent of Title I schools to serve English and Spanish speaking students.
- GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) program and other distance learning programs will be expanded.