October 2012

Austin Children’s Museum

The Project

In October 2012, AMCREF Community Capital (AMCREF) provided $7 million of NMTC financing to the Austin Children’s Museum (ACM), a non-profit educational museum for children. ACM constructed a new 40,000 sq. ft. LEED silver facility in a highly distressed low income community to serve over 300,000 visitors per year. The new facility doubled the ACM’s current size and allowed ACM to greatly expand their outreach programs into surrounding low income communities through collaborative projects with churches, community centers, schools and other groups. ACM’s mission is to create innovative learning experiences for children and families that equip and inspire. ACM’s signature approach to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (“STEM”) Education emphasizes creative problem solving to meet the challenges of a global society, including numerous education programs addressing environmental sustainability.

Community Impact

  • Job Creation and Support: 79 direct FTEs; 39 maintained and 40 created as a direct result of the facility expansion; estimated 375 direct construction jobs; FTE wages are well above the local living wage. ACM provides FTEs with job training and benefit packages.
  • Environmental Benefits: Facility was designed to receive USGB LEED silver designation including resource-efficient design; selection of regional materials that are non-toxic, recycled and sustainably harvested; site designs that provide heat island mitigation, light pollution reduction and storm water management. ACM offers education program topics like EcoExplorers and Extreme Planet camps which promote environmental awareness and explore green engineering solutions to meet challenges like water and energy conservation. Facility includes exhibit galleries on green values, recycling, use of repurposed materials and locally grown/sourced food. The Envirogarden promotes outdoor activities and education through 2,500 sq. ft. of outdoor exhibit space.
  • Community Support and Impacts: Serves 300,000 to 350,000 visitors per year; 100,000 to 150,000 visitors (35 – 40%) are low income or disadvantaged persons. ACM offers “Open Door Access” providing free admission to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. ACM has established outreach programming targeted to underserved audiences and community education partnerships with local organizations (i.e. Austin Children’s Shelter, Dell Children’s Medical Center, Girl Scouts, etc). The facility provides childhood education in key subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”) and promotes healthy practices, including interactive exhibits on healthy foods and physical activity.
  • Economic / Catalytic Effects: ACM is strongly supported by regional and local government, including the City of Austin. ACM relocated from an upscale downtown location to a highly distressed LIC, helping to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood.