Arts, Culture, and Humanities

ExplorationWorks

  • Helena, MT
  • http://www.explorationworks.org

Mission Statement

Mission: ExplorationWorks ignites a lifelong love for science to enrich Montana's future.


ExplorationWorks addresses community needs by helping kids, families and adults transform book-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) knowledge into hands-on real life experiences. Since our founding in 2000 we have provided direct education services that improve the quality of life for kids and their families in Helena, in our three-county area and across Montana.


Our childrens STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes and programs begin with 3 month olds, because we believe kids are never too young to begin exploring their world through science. In addition to our outstanding robotics programs for K-high schoolers, we encourage kids and their families to explore, value, and preserve Montana's natural environment


As a science center, we serve as a catalyst and venue for community involvement in science education for all ages, interests and walks of life. We are accessible, welcoming and inclusive of all, regardless of financial circumstances.


As ExplorationWorks transitions from start-up not-for-profit, our growth centers on
• increasing the number of programs offered for children and adults,
• reaching more at-risk youth from challenged families and
• extending our education program services in the tri-county area and across Montana.

Program expansion to East Helena, Clancy, and Montana City is particularly important for our tri-county area, documented by requests from the Clancy and East Helena school districts to provide after-school STEM programs for their elementary students.


ExplorationWorks is committed to being accessible to everyone. Since opening our doors in 2008, we have welcomed 328,338 kids and adults of all ages to our exhibits, programs and classes. Our Free Admission Tuesdays are consistently the highest attendance day each month. More than 700 youth participate in our summer camp and after school classes and scholarships are available to all who make requests. We contribute annual family memberships for every non-profit request we receive.


The future of Montana's is tied to STEM, (science, math, technology, and engineering) so it's important that Montana kids and their families have a science center where they can grow up being comfortable with science in their daily lives and if they choose, prepared for STEM careers.



Main Programs

  1. Summer camps
  2. SciGirls and SciGirls Junior
  3. Robotics
  4. Early Explorers Preschool Education
Service Areas

Self-reported

Montana

Montana, with primary emphasis on the Helena area and its neighboring  communities and counties.  Outreach into outlying Montana communities includes Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman and to neighboring states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

ruling year

2002

Executive Director since 2011

Self-reported

Nikki Andersen

Keywords

Self-reported

Helena, East Helena, Townsend, Montana City, Butte, Bozeman, Great Falls

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Also Known As

Community Works Inc

EIN

81-0541491

 Number

7016111786

Physical Address

995 Carousel Way

Helena, MT 59601

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Science & Technology Museum (A57)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Dedicated to igniting a lifelong love for science to enrich Montana's future, from the day we opened our science center doors, ExplorationWorks has consistently by accessible to all who wish to enjoy our exhibits, camps, classes, and programs. Understanding the importance of engaging with science at an early age, our original preschool Early Explorer children are now pursuing science and technology degrees in college and graduate school.

As one of only two science centers in the state of Montana, our fieldtrip and community outreach programs help bring science alive for children and their families across the state. We don't always know what sparks a child's interest in science or when an adult makes a connection between school-based science and the real world, but we do know that more than 30,000 kids and adults find a place to fan their love for science when they visit ExplorationWorks.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Summer camps

ExplorationWorks offers 40+ summer camps for K-8th grade across 8 weeks each summer plus a concluding Kids Kicking Cancer Camp offered free-of-charge for young cancer patients, survivors and siblings. Camps include robotics and coding, chemistry, prehistory, natural science and natural history, outdoor exploration, space, scientific thinking, and computer animation

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

Program 2

SciGirls and SciGirls Junior

SciGirls Girls ages 9 – 12 build confidence by completing fun and fabulous challenges in this 7 -week program while working with other science-loving girls. Offered by ExplorationWorks twice a year, the award winning PBS KIDS series, website and national outreach initiative, is changing how millions of tween girls think about science, technology, engineering and math.
Girls work through weekly challenges, like designing a machine to measure the wind, or making a movie using stop motion technology? They visit places like a robotics makerspace and a biochemistry lab. With SciGirls, girls do all this and more, while completing fun and fabulous challenges with other science-loving girls. They also meet women working in STEM fields and learn what it takes to pursue a career in science.


SciGirls Junior: Young lady scientists don’t have to be a tween to be a SciGirl! In this program girls 7 to 9 years old learn how to apply the scientific method in fun, engaging challenges while meeting other science-loving girls. Female STEM professionals visit to be role models and to encourage the girls to pursue their dream science career.

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Female Children ( 5 - 14 years)

Budget

Program 3

Robotics

Robotics Geared to students new to LEGO robotics, WeDo 1.0 is the perfect starting robotics platform. Simplified starting builds allow lots of time for robotics experimentation and play. WeDo 2.0 projects are designed to be fun and engaging while practicing science, technology, engineering, math, and coding skills. Students build their own robotic rover and wirelessly program it using Bluetooth.
NXT robots are found today in schools and competitions, on YouTube, and with hobbyists and artists of all ages. Students learn to manage the basics of building and programming these bots ¬ including ultrasonic, light, and sound sensors as they become a part of the techno¬wave of the future. EV3 is more powerful and complex than NXT, allowing for advanced builds and sensors. Interactive servo motors with built-in rotation sensors along with color sensor, gyro sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and touch sensors prepare roboticits for a whole new skill set.

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)

Budget

Program 4

Early Explorers Preschool Education

ExplorationWorks Science Center’s Early Explorers education program gives preschool-age children an opportunity to experience interactive hands-on science activities led by skilled educators passionate about learning. Early Explorers classes are offered at 10:30 a.m. four days a week during the school year for pre-school children and their care givers. Preschool programs are free to members and free to non-members with paid admission. Early Explorers has offers a variety of classes including:
• Science Story Time (Tuesdays)
• Crafty Science (Wednesdays)
• Music and Movement (Thursdays)
• Sensory Science (Fridays)

Category

Science & Technology

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Expanding STEM
    Goal #1 To expand exhibits and programs, emphasizing early childhood education and Montana's place-based natural science

    Accessibility
    Goal #2 To ensure ExplorationWorks is accessible for all who wish to visit and participate in programs

    Expand Awareness and Participation
    Goal #3 To expand regional and state-wide awareness and outreach
    Financial Growth

    Goal #4 To achieve a sustainable financial status, with surplus revenue to re-invest in staff and capacity building

    Staff and Board recruitment and retention
    Goal #5 To recruit and retain qualified staff and board members who have fun working together
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Expanding STEM
    Goal #1: Expand exhibits and programs, emphasizing early childhood education and Montana's place-based natural science.
    Strategies include increasing our preschool program offerings, introducing teen exhibit interpreters on weekends to interact with kids and families, adding Montana place-based science exhibit and education opportunities and re-introducing adult programs.

    Accessibility
    Goal #2: Ensure ExplorationWorks is accessible for all who wish to visit and participate in programs
    Strategies include increasing the number of scholarships offered for summer camp and after school classes, offering 3 School Nights annual for families in Helena Title One schools, securing funding to help underwrite field trip admissions and transportation and introducing a membership affordable for low-income families.


    Expand Awareness and Participation
    Goal #3: To expand regional and state-wide awareness and outreach
    Strategies include expanding our regional marketing plan and introducing state-wide marketing, increasing our annual marketing budget to support increased outreach, and continuing to reach out to Montana's family summer visitors.

    Financial Growth
    Goal #4 To achieve a sustainable financial status, with surplus revenue to re-invest in staff and capacity building
    Specific strategies have been developed to address increasing paid admissions, members, continuing to increase program revenue, advertising nationally to tour our Women in Space NASA exhibit, building our operating cash reserve, broadening corporate and foundation sponsorships and support and
    better defining board fundraising accountability

    Staff and Board recruitment and retention
    Goal #5 To recruit and retain qualified staff and board members and to have fun working together
    Strategies include recruiting and retaining qualified board and staff, offering competitive salaries and attractive staff benefits and recruiting and maintaining sufficient volunteers.

  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Realizing that it's difficult envision the future, ExplorationWorks strategic plan is viewed as a living document. Created collaboratively by our board and staff, planning began by envisioning where we want ExplorationWorks to be in 2019.

    Quantitative and qualitative outcomes have been created in a separate document for each objective and provide the broad framework for decision-making over the next three years. As we progress toward our goals, staff and board will review and adjust strategies and tactics annually as needed.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    As mentioned above, qualitative and quantitative outcomes have been established for each objective. These outcomes comprise a strategic metric report provided to ExplorationWorks board on a quarterly basis, allowing progress to be assessed throughout each year.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Incorporated in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) Montana corporation, CommuniityWorks was founded to create a community informal learning center and gathering place. Founders set out to develop an innovative, hands-on facility for educational opportunities, working in partnership with public schools and available for students of all ages and from varied backgrounds.

    Adopting the name ExplorationWorks!, the science center model was determined to best fit the mission, providing a means to meet the goals and mission of the organization. ExplorationWorks has been a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) since 2002.

    From its beginning to its opening in 2007, ExplorationWorks was a volunteer-driven, collaborative and grassroots effort. Between 2000 and the 2007 opening, board members, a very small staff, and hundreds of volunteers worked to develop plans and build the new museum, located in the new Great Northern Town Center in downtown Helena, Montana.
    ExplorationWorks was the recipient of three significant multi-year NASA and HUD grants totaling $1,352,628 that were essential sources of support in the four years after ExplorationWorks opened to the public in 2007. These grants substantiated ExplorationWorks growing reputation for excellence across Montana and at the federal level. Since 2011, the ExplorationWorks board has worked to eliminate dependence on federal grant dollars to support operational expenses. Grants are still sought, but only to support specific projects, which are undertaken when grant funding is received.

    Independence from federal financial support was completed in 2016. ExplorationWorks 2011 $620,500 annual operating plan was supported by 39% earned revenue, 19% contributed revenue and 41% grant revenue. ExWorks 2016 operating plan was $614,437 as the remaining $15,000 in HUD funds were expended. In 2016, using year-end financial numbers, the per cent of earned, contributed and grant revenue had increased to 50% earned, 44% from contributions and grants were reduced to 6% of income.

Service Areas

Self-reported

Montana

Montana, with primary emphasis on the Helena area and its neighboring  communities and counties.  Outreach into outlying Montana communities includes Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman and to neighboring states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Social Media

Funding Needs

ExplorationWorks has worked since 2011 to eliminate reliance on federal funding for operations. No federal funds were used in 2016 and the final federal grant was successfully completed in 2016. To replace federal funding, emphasis has been placed on earned revenue expansion and increased contributions to replace federal funds. Year-end 2016 financials show 50% earned revenue (up from 33% in 2011), 44% contributions, and 6% grants. With the addition of our first part-time development director, we anticipate raising approximately $50,000 in foundation grants in 2017. ExplorationWorks board and staff are in the early stages of creating a long-term financial plan that includes creation of a one-month cash operating reserve and building our endowment,

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

COMMUNITYWORKS INC
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

ExplorationWorks

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2012
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Executive Director

Nikki Andersen

BIO

NIKKI ANDERSEN, President
ExplorationWorks Science Center
995 Carousel Way
Helena, MT 59601

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
ExplorationWorks, President, 2011-
Higgins Armory Museum, Executive Director, 2008-2011
Transitions Consulting, 2006-2008
Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Director of Public Programs, 2005-2006
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 1980 – 2005

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS:
American Association of Museums (AAM)
Association of Midwest Museums (AMM)
Mountain-Plains Museum Association (MPMA)
Association of Indiana Museums (AIM)
Montana Museums Association (MAM)
AAM Professional Standing Committee on Museum Education (EdCom)
National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME)
Committee for Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE)
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
American Education Research Association (AERA)
American Evaluation Association (AEA)
Visitor Studies Association (VSA)
Association of Children's Museums (ACM)
MetroWest and Worcester Chambers of Commerce, MAHelena Chamber of Commerce, MT
Service Nation (AmeriCorps)
Girls STEM Coalition
Helena Development Roundtable
Helena, MT Chamber of Commerce

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:
2015- United Way of Greater Lewis and Clark Area
2011- Helena Community Health Coalition, Helena, MT
Advisory Committee, Big Sky Institute, Helena, MT
2009-2011 Board Member, Girls Inc., Worcester, MA
Board Member, Worcester Cultural Coalition, Worcester, MA
2002-2005 Central Indiana Regional Citizens League, participant
Girls Inc., Board member
Young Audiences of Indiana, Program Committee Board Advisor
Young Audiences of Indiana Chocolate Fest volunteer
Indiana Dressage Society, Board member
2001 Sweet Charity Dressage Charity Horse Show, Organizing Committee
Region Two Dressage Championships Competition, Organizing Committee
Indiana Dressage Society, Board member
1998 United Way Child and Youth Development Community Fund Allocations
Panel Member
1998- 2005 Meals on Wheels
1995-2005 United Way Leadership Alumni Triad
1995 American Creativity Association annual meeting, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Planning Committee member
1994-2006 Indianapolis Art Center, Advisory Board Member
1980-90 Central Indiana Area Library Services Authority, Board member
Indiana Film Council, Board member, Indianapolis Art League, Board member

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Laura Clark

Opportunity Bank

Term: Jan 2017 - Jan 2019

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

No

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?