The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota was founded in 2006 by community members, educators, and business leaders who wanted a safe and inviting place for children to play, learn, and grow. With hard work and the dedication of many team members over many years, in 2015, the current location opened and continues to grow.
On a similar timeline with different founding board members, another local nonprofit was in its early stages. For ten years, fundraising and research culminated in the opening of a Mankato Boys & Girls Club in 2018. Their goal? A safe place for kids to learn and grow. Current Director of Development, Laura Stevens (who also happened to be a founding board member of the CMSM!) added, “Our founders worked as hard as they did…so kids would have a safe place to be and belong.” In 2019, they rebranded as an independent nonprofit called Mankato Youth (MY) Place.
The Southern Minnesota community clearly cares a LOT about its children and youth, and it’s no surprise that these amazing nonprofits support each other. Throughout the month of February, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota will be helping to raise funds for MY Place. Proceeds from the Museum’s DipJar ($10 per dip) will go to MY Place.
What’s a DipJar?
The DipJar is the donation jar of the 21st century. This small credit and debit card reader allows donors to easily “dip” their card into the “jar” to make a donation, the same way people drop cash and coins into a jar or bucket for tips or donations. Safer and more convenient, the DipJar allows businesses and nonprofits like the Museum to be able to easily create more giving moments with just an electrical outlet. Look for it at the Welcome Desk the next time you’re at the Museum, or at the Baby and Kids Expo on February 11!
What does MY Place have to offer?
The main goal of MY place is to empower young people to meet their full potential, which they support by offering growth opportunities for kids who may not otherwise have them. They are open to all youth from kindergarten through eighth grade. Their programs and services are free, which means that all kids have access.
MY Place is also program-based which means that members can participate in a number of great opportunities. Their days are pretty full of great things including:
- academic support
- STEM programs
- Rec and Read
- Music Therapy
- Music Lessons
- Cooking Club
- Handball Club
- Garden Club
- and lots of fun and recreation
Stevens shared these statistics:
“Things we hear from our parents in surveys is the gratitude for a free place for their kids to be in the out-of-school hours and the opportunity to do great programs. When we survey our kids, 100% report trying new things, and 50% report doing better in school since coming to MY Place.”
They are in their fourth year of operation, and half of that was in a pandemic including doing full-time distance learning on-site with kids. “I am really proud of our ability to pivot and respond to the needs of our kids and families,” said Stevens.
They have roughly twelve staff, including three full-time positions, two part-time office positions and 8 -12 part-time youth development professionals. In addition to staff, they have a small army of volunteers. In October alone they filled over 250 volunteer slots. MY Place volunteers do everything from driving their vans to pick kids up from school to cleaning, reading to kids one-on-one, and supporting staff in working with groups of kids.
“We love working together with individuals and organizations to serve the most amazing kids in our community!”
Their third annual block party is coming up on April 20. This year MY Place is excited to move the event to the Picklebarn. The best place to check them out is on Facebook where there is a link for tickets.
We are so happy to have so many opportunities to connect with the community. We hope you will do the same!