OREANDA-NEWS. ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, is pleased to announce a $100,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation in support of its early learning science initiative Champ Lane. ECHO's Champ Lane is a 2,200 square-foot exhibit and classroom designed to support early learners, educators and caregivers. The exhibit will serve as the platform for development of the critical STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) early learning focused curriculum.

Through this grant, ECHO will reinforce its value as a community asset by improving access to all, increasing access to early science learning and extending its reach as a provider of STEM education.

Opened in February, this space brings visitors from birth to six-years old a learning-through-play experience with hands-on opportunities that spark curiosity in their world. Areas of specific interest include ecology, science, math, biology, zoology, cultural studies and nutrition in a fun, engaging setting following a Lake Champlain narrative. 

The James M. Cox Foundation, is named in honor of Cox Enterprises' founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group operate. Dealer.com, a Cox Automotive brand, is located in Burlington, Vermont and has long supported ECHO.

"As a technology company, we understand the importance of STEM programs," said Cox Automotive's Chief Product Officer Rick Gibbs. "We also know that early learning puts children on a path to success. By providing STEM and early learning programs, ECHO is enriching the community's children for a bright future."

Benefiting from this grant are the community and the 56,000 children who visit ECHO each year, including:

  • 5,000 preschoolers from northwestern Vermont;
  • 1,500 children and 1,000 adult caregivers utilizing programming for under-resourced families as part of a partnership with the Greater Burlington YMCA, the King Street Center, Burlington Children's Space and Gan Yeladim;
  • 500 early childhood caregivers and educators working to incorporate STEM education and environment stewardship into their own experiences;
  • 10,000 guests utilizing the ECHO Open Door access program via discounted library pass admission, social service agency vouchers, the free Community Science Night or complimentary memberships from ECHO's You Give, We Give annual matching program.