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New environmental center opens to serve Central Ohio on campus of KIPP Columbus

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“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” Henry David Thoreau

kipp students outsideWhen KIPP Columbus opened its new campus in 2014, one of the key assets to the school’s new home was space to grow. Then, the school was facing a waitlist of 500+ students and needed space-for a new, planned high school building.

But one classroom needed no cranes or concrete. A diverse, vibrant green space spreads out over the 124-acre property combining forests, wetlands, and a stream.

On Wednesday, KIPP Columbus Executive Director Hannah Powell unveiled a new building that will serve as a homebase for KIPP Columbus students as they venture out into this outdoor classroom. The Battelle Environmental Center includes a laboratory, event space, and meeting rooms. Floor to ceiling windows in the facility look out on a campus green space.

Dr. Jeff Wadsworth from Battelle also spoke and announced a new donation from the company. The center was constructed thanks to a $3 million grant from Battelle in 2014. Last week, Dr. Wadsworth announced another $1 million would go to KIPP Columbus to equip and operate the center going forward.

With the facility constructed, this donation will fund afterschool and summer programming at the center. Battelle was happy to connect KIPP Columbus with another of our key partners, the PAST Foundation. PAST, a nationally-recognized expert in out-of-school STEM education programs, has a long history working with schools. The organization is co-located with Metro Early College High School/Middle School and was a founding partner in the Metro school.

The focus of these programs will also expand. KIPP and the PAST Foundation will look to recruit students outside of the school from across the Linden neighborhood. Battelle’s education team will also continue to be actively involved, to connect programs and expertise developed at the Battelle Environmental Center to the schools in the Ohio STEM Learning Network.

While Dr. Wadsworth and other guests met for the center’s unveiling, KIPP students were already using the center’s lab to examine pine cones, seeds, and other natural objects gathered from the school’s campus.
wadsworth at KIPP kipp classroom

Surprise announcement: The Wadsworth Scholars

The event concluded with a  special announcement. Dr. Wadsworth is retiring as Battelle’s President and CEO later this year. To commemorate his service to the Central Ohio community, local philanthropists Abigail Wexner and Jack Fisher organized donations to create a program connected to the center in his name.

Each year, six Wadsworth Scholars will receive free access to summer programs at the Battelle Environmental Center. Two students will be selected from each of three different organizations Dr. Wadsworth supported during his tenure: Columbus City Schools, the Metro Schools, and KIPP Columbus.

Get involved

If your school would like to be involved in programming at the Battelle Environmental Center or you know a student would might enjoy afterschool programs there, contact programs@pastfoundation.org.

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