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Mississippi Children’s Museum Capital Campaign

$1 Million Gift Puts Museum Within Reach of its $26.6 Million Overall Capital Campaign Goal

The Cellular South Foundation, the corporate philanthropic arm of the nation’s largest privately owned wireless communications provider, today announced a $1 million charitable contribution to the Mississippi Children’s Museum (MCM) to help complete construction of its new 40,000 square foot educational enrichment facility at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson.

The charitable contribution, the largest in Foundation history, also will help fund interactive exhibits at the museum that teach children 12 years of age and younger about literacy, cultural arts, science and technology, health and nutrition and the state’s rich heritage. Coupled with an earlier $250,000 donation, the latest contribution means the Cellular South Foundation has pledged $1.25 million for the museum. The funds will be paid to the museum over five years beginning in 2011.

“Education is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s future,” said Hu Meena, president and CEO of Cellular South and a member of the Cellular South Foundation board of directors. “The Mississippi Children’s Museum will provide a unique and exciting education experience that will ignite and inspire a thirst for learning, discovery and knowledge among children at a time in their life when they are poised to develop life-long critical thinking and reasoning skills. We couldn’t be more pleased to support such an important community resource.”

When it opens in December, the facility is expected to be one of the nation’s premiere children’s museums, attracting more than 150,000 visitors annually, according to Susan Garrard, MCM executive director. “Cellular South is helping us achieve one of our primary goals – to make the museum a place where children and families can play, learn and grow together in a fun and safe environment where discovery is at the center of knowledge,” Garrard said.

MCM officials said the latest donation means the non-profit organization now needs only $984,000 to reach its $26.6 million capital campaign goal. “Thanks to the generosity of the Cellular South Foundation and more than 400 other private sector partners, we are within reach of our overall fundraising objectives for construction and operation of the museum,” said Stephanie Strickland Garriga, MCM capital campaign chair. “We’re very excited about the progress we’ve made in seeing the dream we first shared five years ago now be so close to becoming a reality.”

Tish Hughes, president of the 22-member MCM board of directors, attributed the success of the museum to a grassroots movement among a diverse group of volunteers, including business executives, community activists, educators and government officials. “In today’s society, it really does take a ‘village’ to raise our children and create an environment where self-exploration and learning are nurtured and encouraged in a unique setting like the museum,” she said. “Without all of our volunteers and concerned businesses, the museum would not be a reality today.”

Childhood Education Programs Help Boost Graduation Rates, Employment; Reduce Reliance on Welfare

The museum is expected to reap long-term social and economic dividends for the Magnolia state. Garrard said research shows that for every dollar invested in high-quality, comprehensive programs supporting children and families, there is a $7 to $10 return to society in reduced need for special education, higher graduation and employment rates, less crime, less use of the public welfare system and better overall health.

State business and education leaders also lauded the Cellular South Foundation’s support for the Children’s Museum program. “We’re encouraged that the Cellular South Foundation is supporting efforts to help ready, prepare and encourage young children to learn and develop a thirst for knowledge in a fun atmosphere that involves the entire family,” said Dr. Tom Burnham, Mississippi State Superintendent of Education. “Schools and teachers are doing everything they can to prepare students to succeed, but they cannot do it alone. The Mississippi Children’s Museum is a prime example of how Cellular South and other businesses are supporting our children and helping the Mississippi Board of Education reach its No. 1 goal – to mobilize resources and support to help ensure that students exit 3rd grade reading on grade level.”

There are long-term benefits for the state’s economic development future from childhood education programs like the Mississippi Children’s Museum, according to Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC). “By stepping up to help fund this program, the Cellular South Foundation is sending a strong message to its employees, customers and our state’s leaders that it cares about making a difference in children’s lives,” he said.

About Mississippi Children’s Museum

When it opens in December 2010 in Jackson, the 40,000 square foot Mississippi Children’s Museum will be one of the nation’s premiere children’s educational learning centers, providing a unique and exciting educational experience that ignites and inspires a thirst for discovery, knowledge and learning in children from 12 years of age to toddlers. The museum is committed to accessibility for all children, pursuit of educational excellence and continued development through a statewide network of community collaboration and volunteerism. For more information, visit

About Cellular South Foundation

Cellular South is committed to supporting education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives and partnerships and employee volunteerism, Cellular South and the private, non-profit Cellular South Foundation support projects, programs and partnerships that create opportunities, make connections and address community needs where our customers and employees live and work. Support for education has been a key focus for Cellular South for over 20 years and we are passionately committed to helping students succeed in school, in the workforce and in life. For more information about the Foundation, visit

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