SpectrUM’s Big Night Celebrates $135K Gift, Raises Funds for Science Engagement

June 30, 2016

MISSOULA – A gathering of 198 community members raised $51,307 to help provide Montana youth with role models and enrichment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics during the University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area’s third annual Big Night on June 10.  

The fundraiser coincided with a $135,000 gift, announced at Big Night, from a family foundation inspired by the energy under the Big Night tent and the community’s support for STEM education. The gift will fund tech programming and role-model engagement throughout the Bitterroot Valley.

This year’s Big Night showcased spectrUM’s collaborative efforts with the Missoula Food Bank to nourish both bodies and minds.

“Where spectrUM and the food bank really come together is in our shared values that every single child in our community deserves the same opportunities,” said Jessica Allred, Missoula Food Bank director of development and advocacy, in a video created for the event. To learn more about spectrUM’s partnership with the Missoula Food Bank, visit https://gravitymediaproductions.wistia.com/medias/78g6dswod1.

The proceeds will support spectrUM’s Science for All Fund, designed to help close traditional knowledge, opportunity and achievement gaps that many Montana youth experience.

“The Science for All Fund has provided 400 free family memberships to children who rely on the food bank’s Backpack Program, with plans underway to embed spectrUM exhibits and role models within the Missoula Food Bank’s new space slated to open in early 2017,” said Holly Truitt, spectrUM director.  

The Science for All Fund last year also offered 12 free Random Act of Community days at spectrUM’s downtown museum, $21,000 in scholarships for 1,500 children to experience clubs, camps and field trips, 400 free family memberships for clients of the Missoula Food Bank, a pop-up museum at the Missoula Public Library reaching 400 people daily, and a Science Learning Tent at the Arlee Celebration for 1,000 powwow visitors.

Mayor John Engen emceed this year’s paddle raise and live auction, which featured items donated by more than 50 local individuals, organizations and businesses, including UM, MPG Ranch, the Resort at Paws Up, the Loft, Garden City Harvest, Ric Hauer, Ray and Susie Risho, Coby and Melissa Stone, and the Owl Research Institute.

Big Night’s sponsors included A&E Architects, Bitterroot Flower Shop, the Carol Griffith Williams Award Fund, Gravity Media Productions, Missoula Federal Credit Union, Montana Party Time, Morrison-Maierle, Republic Services, Montana ProAudio and Sunburst Sensors.

SpectrUM shares hands-on STEM learning with over 55,000 people annually at its downtown museum and through statewide mobile engagement. Last year, spectrUM educators drove over 7,000 miles to bring exhibits to isolated rural and tribal communities statewide.

The public can visit spectrUM’s museum at 218 E. Front St. in downtown Missoula from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person. Need-based scholarships are available for spectrUM’s clubs, camps, field trips and community events for low-income or disadvantaged audiences and for family memberships and admission.

The Science for All scholarship application is available at http://spectrum.umt.edu/education/scholarship%20application.php. To donate to the Science for All Fund, visit http://spectrum.umt.edu/support/donate%20today.php.

For more information call Holly Truitt, spectrUM director, at 406-243-4872 or email holly.truitt@umontana.edu.

###

Contact: Holly Truitt, spectrUM Discovery Area director, 406-243-4872, holly.truitt@umontana.edu.