The Discovery Center Wins The Grand Prize For Delivering A Transformational Education Experience To The Springfield, Missouri Community Since The Onset Of The Pandemic
NEW YORK – December 14, 2021 – Forbes and the Center for Education Reform (CER) today announced The Discovery Center of Springfield as the winner of the inaugural STOP Award during the Forbes 30 Under 30 list launch party in New York City. The STOP Award is a $1 million prize open to education innovators, providers and entrepreneurs who continued to support underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and who seek to expand their work in the coming year. Today, the STOP Award recognizes The Discovery Center of Springfield for providing an education experience that is the essence of the awards: Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless.
The team at The Discovery Center, a respected community institution that provided STEM educational activities for students, voted to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic to fill the gap in childcare services that immediately presented itself within the wider Springfield, Missouri area. Within 48 hours, The Discovery Center transitioned its 60,000-square-foot building into a massive community response center dedicated to supporting the children of essential workers, delivering over 200,000 hours of childcare and 50,000 free meals. The Discovery Center quickly converted its offerings into a project-based, experiential, and hands-on learning environment that has since received tremendous enthusiasm from students and parents alike.
The Discovery Center plans to use the STOP Award prize to develop a new app that helps parents customize learning to their child’s unique needs, no matter which school they attend throughout the state of Missouri. It also plans to expand the existing school in Springfield, which currently operates privately, and become self-sustaining over time. The Discovery Center hopes to expand their education programs to over 27 rural counties, 30 states and 3 countries to help make transformational learning possible through non-traditional organizations.
“We are so inspired by the STOP Award participants, semi-finalists, and the courage, innovation and leadership of educators from across the country who have amplified the application of their brilliance to make the lives of their students better as they faced the daunting challenges of the pandemic,” said Mike Hoque, CEO of Hoque Global and STOP Award Supporter. “We are proud of all of the participants and wanted to provide some financial support for everyone among the 15 who made it to the semifinal level but were not able to proceed to the finalist level. We can’t wait to see what all of these amazing educators and their students will do next.”
“Our STOP Award partnership with Forbes and CER has been one of the best things we’ve done in education over the past 25 years,” said Janine Yass, long-time education reform advocate who with her husband Jeff sought to ensure educators and organizations that learned how to quickly pivot and deliver 21st century education during Covid despite historic challenges would be recognized.
Forbes and the Center for Education Reform together revealed the STOP Award partnership and $1 million prize during an education-focused panel discussion and Under 30 pitch session at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit in Detroit this October, for which CER is a partner. Following the announcement, hundreds of institutions applied, which was narrowed down to 20 semifinalists and then 5 finalists, before The Discovery Center was chosen as the winner.
“The STOP Award competition supports Forbes’ ethos of inspiring and nurturing the next generation of changemakers,” said Forbes Chief Content Officer and Editor, Randall Lane. “The Discovery Center’s efforts throughout one of the most challenging times in our nation’s – and the world’s – history are a tremendous beacon for what education can and should look like. We look forward to seeing this organization expand their transformational learning offerings in 2022 and beyond.”
For more information about the Award and the incredible education providers who made this year’s list of finalists, visit STOP Award.