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Creating Learning Opportunities with Lynn Meadows Discovery Center

Lauren SantaCruz
October 4, 2022

If you take a walk through Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, on the last Friday night of the month, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see kids engaged in a game of “Where my money goes,” or sculpting a model of an item they’re saving their money for out of playdough. These unique financial education activities are part of a partnership between Hancock Whitney and the children’s museum to provide opportunities for people in the local community.

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Free Friday Night has been part of the museum’s community outreach initiatives dating back nearly two decades. “On the last Friday of every month, we open our doors and allow the public to visit free of charge,” said Lynn Meadows Discovery Center Executive Director Cindy DeFrances. “Very early on, our board realized that our center was such an asset to the region and we didn’t want anyone in the community to miss out on the opportunity for fun and access to educational, interactive exhibits.”

When the opportunity arose to collaborate with Lynn Meadows on this outreach initiative, Hancock Whitney saw a way to support a pillar of the Gulf Coast community while simultaneously delivering on the bank’s purpose. “Since inception, our purpose at Hancock Whitney is to help create opportunities for people and the communities we serve,” said Hancock Whitney Market President Brent Fairley. “Partnering with Lynn Meadows Discovery Center to offer a no-cost evening at the museum not only opens up a world of discovery to local children and families, but also allows us to help provide access to a cornerstone of our organization – financial education.”

Each Free Friday Night, Hancock Whitney associates volunteer at the museum setting up a space to introduce financial concepts to children and families. “As a financial institution, we know just how important it is for children and adults to have strong money habits. We saw this as a chance to bring financial education concepts to local families in a unique, no-pressure atmosphere,” said Fairley.

Concepts vary from month to month, but common themes include money identification, needs and wants, goal setting and saving strategies.

“It’s really about making the topics lighthearted, and delivering them in fun, bite-sized pieces to plant the seed in a child’s mind or prompt family conversations about money,” shared Hancock Whitney Learning & Development Training Specialist, Molly Smith who manages the curriculum and volunteers for Free Friday Night.

“Sometimes money concepts can feel daunting, so we aim to demystify them and provide guidance in an inviting way,” shared Smith.

The partnership is a shining example of what like-minded partners can accomplish when they come together. “We were very excited to partner with Hancock Whitney on this effort,” said DeFrances. “They have always been and continue to be a great community partner, and I know the families that pass through our doors are experiencing that too. I’ll stop in and see lively discussions or kids sculpting their dreams out of playdough,” she continued. “It’s a really great partnership.”

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center hosts Free Friday Night the last Friday of every month from 5-8 p.m. For more information, visit lmdc.org/discover-play/special-play-days