Downtown Springfield Association
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Discovery Center wins transformative prize from Janine Yass, Center for Education Reform and Forbes

December 16, 2021

Downtown Springfield’s eyes were on New York City Dec. 14. While the big event of the evening was the Forbes 30 Under 30 list launch party, we were interested in something else. Specifically, the Center for Education Reform and media partner Forbes announced the winner of the $1 million STOP Award.

The winner was our own Discovery Center.

“We are humbled and honored to represent Springfield and the great state of Missouri through the STOP Award and even more humbled to have been chosen as the grand prize winner,” Rob Blevins, Discovery Center Executive Director, said. “To think that the very best educational COVID response happened in Downtown Springfield proves that anyone can use the resources they have to change the world or their community for the better.”

The STOP Award, in its first year, awards transformative money “to honor and advance the work of education providers that continued to perform during Covid.” It also “honors all whose work shines above the rest.” The Discovery Center and its incredible staff certainly have those qualifications.

The center has pivoted multiple times during the ongoing pandemic to serve local families. Discovery Center has:

  • offered free childcare to healthcare workers and first-responders
  • launched Learning Support Care for students in Springfield Public School’s blended learning model
  • created a tutoring program to help struggling students and families get current on school assignments
  • opened a new private STEM school, the Discovery School, which focuses on project-based, strengths-based, and adaptive in-person learning through full COVID safety models
  • started classrooms to provide drop-in care to full-time virtual students.

“Winning this award comes down to building and maintaining a great team,” Blevins said. “In fact, the very fact we found and applied for this award is because we managed to get Tyler Moles, our Development Director, over here from Big Brothers Big Sisters. He stumbled on this grant while he was working after hours. We do not ask people to work after hours, but we do have a whole team that doesn’t know how to stop serving kids, and that’s truly the heart of Team Incredibles.” 

The Discovery Center was 1 of 5 finalists selected from the 20 semifinalists to compete for the prestigious inaugural award. With the funds, the Discovery Center plans to develop open-book education software while expanding and continuing its mission of inspiring a life-long love of learning through memorable and engaging hands-on learning.

“We want to thank the Center for Education Reform, Janine and Jeff Yass, and Forbes for all of the good they have done through the STOP Award and for recognizing the hard but beautiful thing we did right here in the Ozarks,” Blevins said.