Cincinnati Museum Center’s Youth Programs receives $1 million gift from Stillson Foundation

Youth development program embraces diversity, mentorship and workforce readiness

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) announced today the gift of a $1 million grant to its Youth Programs courtesy of the Stillson Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee. The grant will help fund the youth development program focused on museum content delivery, college prep, career readiness and volunteerism.

CMC’s Youth Programs started with a pair of students in 1989 and has grown to include over 100 students annually, including 117 in the 2019-2020 class. In its 32 years, Youth Programs has blossomed into a premier youth development initiative that prepares youth for success in high school, college and beyond. Since its inception, Youth Programs has graduated nearly 2,000 participants who have contributed more than 260,000 volunteer hours to CMC.

“Youth Programs has taken me from a young woman who was afraid to give eye contact when spoken to, to a woman who works alongside scientists,” reflected Alyssa, a CMC Youth Programs graduate. “Because of Youth Programs, I am on my way to a scientific career path. Without the program, it could never have happened for me.”

Students ages 13-18 participate in the program from across Greater Cincinnati – 49 different high schools and nine home school students were represented in the 2019-2020 class. The 2020-2021 Youth Programs class represents 35 local schools and celebrates the diversity of the community – 75% of Youth Programs students are students of color.

“My experience with Youth Programs has helped me better respect those who are very different from me,” said Emma, a Youth Programs student. “The other students have become more than friends; we have become a family.”

Academic success is a cornerstone of Youth Programs. The program boasts a 100% high school graduation rate, with 99% of participants going on to enroll in a four-year college. Of those participants pursuing postsecondary education, 80% receive scholarships or financial aid, which CMC helps facilitate through financial aid workshops and scholarship fairs.

“We are pleased to honor the wishes of the Stillson family by providing financial assistance to Cincinnati Museum Center to support the Youth Programs,” said Heidi Jark, senior vice president and managing director, The Foundation Office at Fifth Third Bank. “We look forward to hearing about the success stories of the participants as they grow their professional development skills.”

CMC’s Youth Programs provides valuable mentorship and the unique opportunity to work in all facets of a museum while developing public speaking skills and mastery of content. Students work on the floor of the Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati History Museum and Duke Energy Children’s Museum, leading programming for guests that they often help develop. You can also find Youth Programs students behind the scenes at the Geier Collections and Research Center, working alongside scientists and curators. In addition to financial aid workshops, the program organizes college tours across the country and offers ACT and SAT prep courses and interview and resume workshops. Students also have the opportunity to tour museums in other cities as part of an annual trip.

“Youth Programs is a transformational experience for our students who find their passion, their voice and themselves through the program,” says Calvin Harper, director of CMC’s Youth Programs. “We are grateful for the support of the Stillson Foundation that will continue to build a better future for all of us through the talents of these young people.”

CMC is currently accepting applications for its 2021-2022 Youth Programs class. Those interested should contact

CMC’s Youth Programs is financially assisted by the Stillson Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Stillson Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee.


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of a select few museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation's 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually. For more information, visit