Press release: WonderLab Museum Awarded Endowment Matching and Capacity Building Grant from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian:


HEADLINE: WonderLab Museum Awarded Endowment Matching and Capacity Building Grant from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County.

WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology in Bloomington, Indiana is one of eighteen local nonprofits participating in an initiative to create and grow endowments at the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. Participating agencies that reach their fundraising goals by June 30, 2025, will receive a dollar-for-dollar match to grow an existing endowment or establish a new endowed fund. 

The initiative aims to bolster local nonprofits by fostering permanent endowment funds, ensuring that vital work can thrive both now and in the future. For this campaign, WonderLab is establishing a new

endowment fund. The Catherine Olmer Legacy Endowment Fund is WonderLab’s second endowment

fund held at the Community Foundation. Gifts to this fund eligible for matching must be received between January 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025. 

In addition, WonderLab, along with the other participating agencies, has received a $10,000 capacity building operational grant to address immediate needs in the museum. 

The Catherine Olmer Legacy Endowment Fund

This endowment was created to honor and continue the legacy of Catherine Olmer, a professor of physics and founding director of Bloomington’s WonderLab Museum. Cathy has impacted so many people in the Bloomington community for over 25 years by being a steward of science, a founder of WonderLab, and a leader inspiring lifelong learning for people of all ages.

“WonderLab started because individuals in the community recognized the importance of a place where they could bring their children to experience the wonders of Science, and they thought that Bloomington was large enough that they should not have to go to big cities. They should have a place right here in town that would help to keep a very high quality of life for Bloomington, Indiana and Monroe County.” – Cathy Olmer

Cathy, age 75, passed away at her home in Bloomington, IN, on Saturday, November 18, 2023. Her impact on the Bloomington Community is immeasurable. She was a trailblazer who took an idea for people of all ages to learn science in an interactive way and made it a reality. Through the endowment fund WonderLab honors Cathy’s legacy so that the wonder of science can continue for the next 25 years.

Building a Greener Future

The $10,000 capacity building operational grant will be used to move forward WonderLab’s Green Initiatives for sustainability by replacing the aging HVAC system with a new low carbon footprint system. The 2024-2026 WonderLab Strategic Plan WonderLab identifies sustainability with a commitment to planetary health a primary focus.  The new HVAC system, solar panels on the workshop, on-site composting system, and other environmental initiatives will help WonderLab to continue to be a responsible leader in the community.

Work on the new HVAC system has already begun with an estimated finish date later in 2024. 

About the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County

The Community Foundation was established to encourage and manage philanthropic support for the long-term benefit of the community and those who call it home. The Community Foundation has more than 270 funds – each defined by donors who provide the resource to create the funds. Distributions from these funds are returned to the community each year through charitable grants. 

Some funds focus on specific nonprofit organizations, while others, are flexible and deliver powerful support in response to community needs. The Community Foundation combines a deep understanding of the community and its compelling opportunities and pressing needs to deploy competitive grant rounds, proactive grants, education scholarships, and funding to support community leadership initiatives.

Since 1990, the Community Foundation has been dedicated to uniting people and resources to create positive changes in Monroe County. By connecting caring individuals, crucial causes, and community resources, they address pressing needs and seize opportunities for growth. They have granted $30 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations, fueled by a growing $45 million endowment. 

About WonderLab Museum

WonderLab is a family-focused science museum with interactive exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity, encourage discovery and inspire lifelong learning. Welcoming more than 80,000 visitors a year, WonderLab ignites a love of science through learning that is experiential, inclusive and fun, and amplifies the role science plays in the world. WonderLab envisions a brighter, more equitable and sustainable future shaped by curious and creative problem-solvers empowered by science, powered by the values of playful learning, empowerment, belonging, a commitment to excellence and sustainability. 

WonderLab is located at 308 W. Fourth St. on the B-Line Trail in Bloomington, Indiana. For the most up-to-date information about programs and exhibits go to or follow @wonderlabmuseum on Instagram and Facebook.  


CaO_02 Staff.jpeg – Cathy Olmer Staff Photot

WL_CO_Formal_Crop1.jpg – Cathy Olmer, Gala

WL_CO-KJI_GroundBreaking.jpg – Cathy Olmer with Karen Jepson-Innes, current WonderLab Executive Director, at the ground breaking for WonderLab.

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