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Good news for South Sound families with young children

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Jan. 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm with No Comments »
January 21, 2011 5:17 pm

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Kids may not appreciate the generous gift they got from the KeyBank Foundation, but their parents sure will – especially those trying to stretch their household budget.

When the Children’s Museum of Tacoma opens in its new, larger digs on Pacific Avenue next January, it won’t cost parents a cent for kids to enjoy all the amenities, many of which are sneakily designed to be educational in a playful way.

Thanks to a $250,000 KeyBank gift, the $6 admission fee will be waived for the first five years. The facility will be the only private nonprofit children’s museum in the nation to eliminate its admission charge.

That’s good news for families that visit the museum. About a third of Tacoma’s families have low-to-moderate incomes, and taking a couple of children to the museum can start to add up at $6 a head, the current charge. Even now, that charge can be defrayed by anyone with a Tacoma or Pierce County library card. At the libraries, they can get free passes for four people for admission to the museum at its current location, 936 Broadway.

When KeyBank came into the South Sound in 1994 by acquiring Puget Sound Bank, there was some concern that an institution from outside wouldn’t be as community-oriented as a home-grown one.

But KeyBank has been involved from the start, and in the last three years has donated more than $700,000 annually to South Sound causes. Some of its largest gifts have been to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound’s capital campaign and to the University of Washington Tacoma’s Professional Development Center.

Steve Maxwell, the Tacoma-based president of the bank’s South Puget Sound district, says KeyBank’s giving strategy focuses on economic self-sufficiency. At first glance, funding a children’s museum might not seem to fit. But Maxwell says the museum enhances early childhood education opportunities in the community, and “We know that has an impact on readiness for school, which translates into greater success later.”

Maxwell says that many South Sound companies are doing great things, but in these tough economic times, more of them – as well as individuals – must step up and contribute their resources and time.

That’s good advice for anyone with a stake in stronger, more livable communities.

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