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Museum announces plan to give a free membership to every first-time parent


Media Contact: Sandra Bonnici, Associate Director of Education 608.354.0542; Jonathan Zarov, Director of Marketing 608.354.0149, 608.335.2783

Note: Access members are available for interviews, by request.

Madison, Wis. — Each spring, Madison Children’s Museum promotes its Access for Everyone campaign to fund essential programs that, by removing financial and other barriers, make the museum accessible to all.

This year’s campaign, which runs March 15 to April 15, includes the announcement of a major expansion of the access program: The First-Time Parent Membership, coming this summer, and a recent expansion of programs qualifying for reduced access rates.

The First-Time Parent Membership is available to everyone free of cost, regardless of financial need. Any first-time parent of a child under one-year old is eligible for the membership, which will be valid until the child turns eighteen months old. The membership will include free admission for one child and two named adult caregivers.

“The benefits of open-ended creative play are tremendous in the first 18 months,” says Deb Gilpin, CEO of the museum. “And doing that together, as a young family, is a bonding experience. We simply want every child and family to have those benefits. Making this membership free is a way we can help get all kids off to a great start.”

Programs supported by the Access for Everyone campaign include Free Family Nights (free admission the first open Wednesday of each month); $1 admissions and $10 memberships for those that qualify under a number of programs; reduced admission rates for schools and other educations groups; a partnership with Madison Metropolitan School District to support teen moms; and an initiative to give job training – and employment – to teens.

To ensure that the price of admission or membership is not a barrier for kids of any age and their families, the museum recently added new qualifying programs, for a total of 20 programs. The key addition to increase the number of families who qualify for access rates is BadgerCare Plus. To avoid any possible stigma associated with using access programs – such as pulling out paperwork at the front desk when buying a membership – the museum removed the requirement for providing proof of participation in a qualifying program.

These changes, implemented last October, have already begun to have an effect—sales of Access Memberships are up 33% over the same period last year. Museum membership is growing across the board, and Access Memberships are slowly increasing as a percentage of that total. Currently, 23% of the museum’s members take advantage of Access Memberships.

MCM is grateful to the following organizations that supported Access for Everyone in the last year: Associated Bank, CUNA Mutual Foundation, Future Foam, the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, Inc., Habush Habush & Rottier, Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, Inc., Marguerite Casey Foundation, National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Pyle Foundation, Robert M. & Anne W. Bolz Charitable Lead Unitrust, the Roman Candle Pizza, US Bank, W. Jerome Frautschi Charitable Lead Unitrust, Walter A. and Dorothy J. Frautschi Charitable Unitrust, and Webcrafters-Frautschi Foundation.

Those interested in giving to the Access for Everyone spring fund drive can contribute by visiting the museum’s website or in person at the museum. Between April 5 through 15, individuals can also give at all Roman Candle Pizzeria restaurants.

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