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MAYOR WU AND MAJOR CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS OF BOSTON LAUNCH BPS SUNDAYS AT SIX SITES ACROSS BOSTON

Launching this Sunday, the program includes twice monthly free access days for BPS families at the Museum of Science, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Boston Children’s Museum, the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts

BOSTON -- Friday, February 2, 2024 -- Following her announcement at the 2024 State of the City Address, Mayor Michelle Wu today launched BPS Sundays, a new partnership between the City of Boston and cultural institutions to give Boston Public Schools students and their families free access to these institutions. The program builds on existing access programs at each institution, while creating a common free access experience coordinated by the City. Starting in February, on the first and second Sundays of each month, every BPS student and up to three guests will get free admission to the Boston Children’s Museum, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium. This builds on the Mayor’s work to make Boston the most family-friendly city.

"Boston is home to some of the world's best cultural and educational institutions, and our students deserve to feel at home at these institutions without any barriers," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "In our hands is the ability to show our students the world -- to spark their imagination, to discover their interests. What we also have is the opportunity for students to bond with their families -- allowing for parents, grandparents, siblings to create irreplaceable memories. I am thrilled and grateful for our partnership with these institutions to give young people access to learning, wonder, and community in our city."

Students and families will gain free admission to participating institutions on the first two Sundays of each month from February to August 2024 by showing a school ID or their personalized BPS email, which BPS will send each week before each month's program. Due to the institutions frequently reaching capacity, families are encouraged to pre-register and reserve tickets online, and ensure that their email address is updated in the BPS system. The City and institutions will work together to publicize the program and track attendance, and develop plans to extend and expand this pilot. In the coming months, the City of Boston will launch a community engagement process to develop a permanent name for the program.

"Education does not start and end when a student is inside the classroom. Through this opportunity, we are unlocking countless opportunities to learn and explore beyond the classrooms," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. "Thanks to Mayor Wu’s leadership and our invaluable partners across the city, our young people and their families can now experience a whole world of knowledge, art, science, and history that was inaccessible to them previously."

"I am a student at the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain. I wanted to say thank you to Mayor Wu for working to get us admission," said Arianna L., a student at the Curley K-8 School. "It means a lot to know that people in the community care about my classmates and me."

The program first will launch Sunday, February 4 and Sunday, February 11. City staff will be on site to help answer any questions and there will be signage directing families where to check in at the museum. For any questions, BPS families can email BPSSundays@boston.gov

"Boston’s young people and their families deserve equitable access to the places that allow them to learn, discover, play, and create. The Cultural Access Pilot program is a huge step in creating a sense of belonging for BPS families in our city’s world-class cultural institutions," said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts & Culture. "We are so thankful to the participating educational and cultural institutions for their leadership and commitment to making this program a reality."

"We are thrilled to partner with the city and our colleagues to bring free cultural experiences to BPS students and their families," said Tim Ritchie, President of the Museum of Science. "One of our highest priorities as an institution is creating a learning space that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible for all. The beauty of scientific discovery should not be a privilege, but rather a birthright for every child in the city. We cannot wait to welcome even more BPS families through our doors and to help spark their lifelong love of science."

"The New England Aquarium is proud to partner with the City to have the opportunity to welcome and inspire even more young people to form a deeper connection to the ocean and the many ways it impacts our lives. We applaud Mayor Wu and her team for creating a program that prioritizes increased accessibility and inclusivity for students and families throughout Boston," said Vikki N. Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium.

"Boston Children's Museum is pleased to participate in the cultural access pilot program for Boston Public School children and their families to enjoy one of the region’s most important early childhood educational and cultural institutions," said Carole Charnow, President & CEO, Boston Children's Museum. "The Museum is an invaluable resource that provides delightfully interactive creative opportunities for playful exploration. Special thanks to Mayor Wu for launching this program and reinforcing Boston Children’s Museum’s commitment to the community to keep access affordable for all."

"The access initiative announced by Mayor Wu is a powerful statement that arts and culture are vital for everyone and an important first step to equitably unlocking the full potential of museums for our young people and their families," said Jill Medvedow, Director of the ICA. "Every day at the ICA, we see how free admission for youth and teens opens the doors to a wide spectrum of activities that are critical for engagement, transformation and change, and we are excited to partner with the City and our colleagues to expand these efforts across Boston."

"We are proud to participate in Boston's cultural access pilot and thank the Mayor for her vision and commitment to expanding opportunities for Boston schoolchildren and their families," said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. "At Franklin Park Zoo, classroom learning is truly brought to life in impactful ways that inspire caring and action on behalf of wildlife and strengthen STEM learning through exploration and fun."

"We’re proud to partner with the City on this initiative, and thank the Mayor for her leadership," said Matthew Teitelbaum, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts. "It's an important demonstration of our shared belief that access to the arts is integral in building strong communities. We look forward to welcoming BPS students and their families to the MFA through this program -- a bold invitation and a declaration that cultural institutions are places where all belong."

This new program is supported through a public-private partnership between the City of Boston and civic, corporate and philanthropic partners. Supporters include Jim and Cathy Stone, Highland Street Foundation, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, Barr Foundation, and Amazon.

"Jim and I are honored to support Mayor Wu’s important initiative which will strengthen the bonds of community across Boston. Our city is home to many wonderful cultural institutions -- we are so pleased that they will now be able to welcome all BPS students and families to experience the joy of discovery," said Cathy Douglas Stone.

"Highland Street Foundation is pleased to partner with Mayor Wu on BPS Sundays as it directly aligns with our goals to enrich the lives of children and families by providing easy access to the very best cultural offerings in the city," said Blake Jordan, Executive Director, Highland Street Foundation.

"Arts, culture and creativity bring joy, compel us to ask difficult questions, and are powerful means of building empathy and understanding of each other, society, and our natural world. Barr is pleased to join this landmark collaboration which has the potential to strengthen Boston’s social fabric, and to foster the compassion and imagination of our next generation of engaged citizens," said San San Wong, Director of Arts & Creativity, Barr Foundation.

"Art nurtures creativity, innovation and cultural diversity across communities, and we are proud to help support this important initiative in local Boston neighborhoods," said Jerome Smith, Amazon's Head of Community Engagement, New England. "Amazon is thrilled to continue our mission of creating paths to education in all forms, recognizing the power this has for students to explore their potential and imaginations."

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