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Museum receives $4 million grant from SECU Foundation

Raleigh, NC, November 30/ Business Wire – SECU members via the SECU Foundation have announced a $4 million grant to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, funding the Museum’s centerpiece of the planned Nature Research Center.  The centerpiece — SECU Daily Planet — will be a three-story multimedia program area that will employ cutting edge audio and visual technologies to provide a rich backdrop for live presentations on key environmental issues and recent scientific discoveries.  The SECU Daily Planet will also draw on live feeds of the latest science news and provide daily outreach to audiences statewide via the North Carolina Research and Education Network, Research Channel Consortium, NASA-TV, WRAL-TV, UNC-TV, North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC), Webcasts and Podcasts.  The Research Center is projected to attract more than 200,000 visitors annually from all North Carolina counties.

The Nature Research Center (NRC) is an innovative 80,000 square-foot wing of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and is currently under construction just west of the current Museum building.  Now celebrating its 130th year, the Museum has historically showcased “what we know,” with exhibits and programs highlighting scientific knowledge gleaned from long-term research.  The NRC will share “how we know it” by bringing research to the forefront and highlighting current scientific issues that affect our daily lives.  The NRC will also provide students, teachers and the general public with a unique opportunity to meet and directly learn from scientists in an effort to help demystify what can be an intimidating and confusing field of study.

The Museum has also established a partnership with Microelectronics Center of North Carolina (MCNC), an independent, non-profit organization that employs advanced networking technologies and systems to improve learning and collaboration throughout North Carolina’s education community.  MCNC has developed the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), which is a reliable, cost-efficient optical network, and will be installed in the NRC.  NCREN will connect to every elementary, middle and high school in the state, facilitating the delivery of the NRC’s distance learning programs for students, particularly in remote, rural areas considered underserved. 

Dr. Betsy Bennett, Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, comments, “State Employees’ Credit Union is one of our strongest and longest standing partners in this venture and we are of course delighted with their generosity, as this is the largest private gift we’ve received since the NRC capital campaign was launched in fall 2008.  We are equally delighted that they share the Museum’s commitment to providing statewide educational outreach in the natural sciences.”

Shirley Bell, Chair of SECU Foundation’s Board of Directors, responds, “SECU members are proud to provide this $4 million grant to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  Since SECU serves employees of the State’s public schools, community colleges, and universities, this project is a natural fit for the Foundation to assist in enhancing North Carolina education, giving the Museum a greater ability to serve the science and technology needs of teachers and students.  We look forward to the completion of the Nature Research Center, along with the SECU Daily Planet.”

About SECU and the SECU Foundation

SECU is a non-profit financial cooperative owned by its members.  SECU has been providing the employees of the State of North Carolina and their families with consumer financial services for over 70 years.  Currently serving over 1.5 million members, SECU provides services through 226 branch offices, over 1,000 ATMs, 24/7 call centers and a website, www.ncsecu.org.  The SECU Foundation, a 501c (3) charitable organization funded solely by the contributions of SECU members, promotes local community development in North Carolina primarily through high impact projects in the areas of education, health and human services.