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Cultivating Access

Published February 22, 2024

As we reflect on the past year, the Conservatory has some incredible news. In 2023, our Access Programming saw a tremendous surge, with 18.39% of Conservatory visitation coming through these programs, making it a record-breaking year that has impacted our community.

Access Programming is essential for maintaining Franklin Park Conservatory as an open and inclusive space for all visitors. However, sustaining these programs requires ongoing support from you, our valued donors and funders. Your steadfast generosity has allowed us to provide these essential programs abundantly, enriching the lives of numerous individuals in significant ways. With your continued support, we can ensure that these initiatives thrive, allowing the accessibility of the Conservatory to flourish for generations to come.

One highlight from last year was hosting 12 Community Days, held on the first Sunday of each month. These events, made possible by your support, provided community togetherness and enrichment opportunities. Partnering with over 21 nonprofit organizations, we welcomed an astonishing 23,718 guests to the Conservatory free of charge, allowing them to experience the beauty of the Conservatory firsthand.

Through the $3 Museums for All admission initiative, we welcomed 21,203 visitors who may have otherwise been unable to visit the Conservatory. Museums for All is a national program focused on removing the barriers to visiting museums and cultural centers for those participating in SNAP, EBT, WIC and Medicaid. This Access option has been one of the Conservatory’s fastest-growing programs, growing 40% in 2023. It is a testament to our commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, and we look forward to expanding it further in 2024.

One visitor shared her experience with the $3 Museums for All program, highlighting the importance of accessibility in our community. “I was so pleased to find out Franklin Park Conservatory offers $3 admission through Museums for All!  I believe breathing in fresh oxygen and taking in the sights, scents, and vibrations of the plants directly affects my regulatory system, and visiting while nearly nine months pregnant had a deeper impact on me,” Alina, $3 Museums for All guest shared. “Knowing my baby benefited from the peaceful experience I was journeying through meant so much to me. I believe the accessibility of the Conservatory through the $3 Museums for All pass can support many people in our communities just as it did me and provide the much-needed health benefits of being surrounded by nature. I am looking forward to utilizing this option again in the future.” Her story reminds us of the profound impact these initiatives and nature can have on individuals’ well-being.

In 2023, Library Memberships more than doubled. With eight participating libraries, 13,299 individuals visited through the Library membership, which can grant up to two adults and six children onsite membership benefits for two days. This membership includes free general admission, half-off admission to special engagements, and 10% off at the Garden Cafe and Botanica Giftshop & Greenhouse. Thank you to participating libraries: Clark County Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Delaware County District Library, Fairfield County District Library, Pickerington Public Library, Southwest Public Library and Worthington Libraries.

In 2023, the Conservatory piloted a Summer Camp Scholarship program to test the demand for summer camps with our Access members. Thanks to donor support, we had 27 applicants for the 11 scholarships we could fund. In 2024, this program expanded thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Krishna Bobba, who donated and established an endowment scholarship program for camps and classes. Again, the demand in the application process was incredible; therefore, a continued increase in scholarship funding will be necessary to keep pace with community interest.

Furthermore, the Conservatory also provided free admission to 993 Columbus Recreation and Parks Campers for self-led exploration of the Conservatory, providing invaluable experiences that help shape young minds by allowing campers to get in touch with nature through hands-on activities. 

In addition to our access programs, we want to highlight the success of our field trip scholarship programs, which open doors to discovery within nature for those schools facing financial constraints. In 2023, we awarded 58 Field Trip Scholarships, engaging 6,871 students, chaperones and teachers. The Conservatory offers 50% off admission through field trip scholarships open to Columbus City schools and any other school district with a certain percentage of students whose families receive financial aid.

The success of Access Programming at Franklin Park Conservatory is a testament to your generosity. From the growth of our Access Family memberships to the expansion of our scholarship programs, every milestone achieved reflects our shared commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. These programs would not be possible without the support of Battelle, The Encova Foundation of Ohio, Honda, The Nationwide Foundation, The Champion Companies, The Davis Foundation, The Reinberger Foundation, and our generous donors.

As we look forward to another year of nurturing connections with nature, we extend our deepest gratitude to our donors and funders for their constant support. Because of you, we can continue cultivating access and inspire future generations. Make a gift today to ensure continued support of our Access Programs, or contact us to learn more about how you can support these access programs [email protected].

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