Cradle Beach is not just a summer camp anymore.
The 60-acre camp on the shores of Lake Erie in Evans is planning a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Education Center that will provide hands-on learning year-round for school groups and youth agencies.
The project got a major boost Thursday with the award of a $500,000 state grant, announced Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo. The estimated total cost is slightly less than $1 million.
“In our increasingly technology based world, STEM education is vital to our children’s future and the economic viability of our region. This new center is a tremendous step forward in enhancing the STEM learning process, and making it far more appealing and interesting to students,” Jacobs said.
The camp expects the center to become a destination for experiential learning, and it is part of the camp's effort to provide year-round programming. Cradle Beach opened the Geico Woodland Lodge last year, and the New Era Performing Arts Building in August.
Jacobs made the announcement Thursday at the site of the future building. In addition to Cradle Beach executives, representatives from the University at Buffalo’s Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Partnership (ISEP), SUNY Buffalo State, and the Buffalo Museum of Science attended the announcement. The groups are collaborating with Cradle Beach on STEM programming.
“The Western New York STEM Center for Youth will provide a vital asset to our community and region, allowing us to expand strategic collaborations between formal STEM educators and STEM-centric organizations,” said Ann-Marie Orlowski, Cradle Beach chief executive officer.
She said the center will enhance opportunities for women, minorities and K-12 students who may otherwise rule out STEM careers early in their education.
“The plan to build a very unique STEM education center will clearly benefit children with disabilities and children with disadvantages served by Cradle Beach, but it also will become a year-round facility for all Western New York school districts to utilize,” said Joseph Gardella, SUNY distinguished professor and director of ISEP.
Jacobs has been a longtime advocate for increasing educational opportunities for children in need. In 1995, he founded the BISON Scholarship Fund, and served on the Buffalo School Board.
“The new Western New York STEM Center for Youth is a tremendous project to invest in,” said Jacobs. “It incorporates Cradle Beach’s mission of serving underprivileged and disabled students while addressing a critical need in the education of our children."