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Grant Award Will Allow Implementation of Local Learning Initiative for Teens

COLUMBUS, OHIO, June 13, 2013 – “Surge Columbus: A Creative Circuit for Youth” is a groundbreaking consortium that connects area teens with relevant, diverse, 21st-century learning opportunities at five institutions across Columbus. Thanks to a $300,000 grant recently awarded to the initiative from the Battelle Memorial Institute, this collaborative of museums, libraries, and media organizations will be able to empower teens to discover and pursue their learning interests outside of school by connecting them with mentors, digital and cultural resources, and each other.

The five organizations participating in the consortium are Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Wexner Center for the Arts, and WOSU Public Media. These institutions are working together to provide complementary resources “whether that be space, technology, workshops, mentors, and/or programming” for the city’s youth.

Over the past 18 months, the partners have engaged in an intensive planning period, funded by a planning grant from the MacArthur Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (an independent federal agency) through its Digital Media and Learning funding initiative. The Columbus consortium is the only one of its kind in the country to receive such a grant, and now with major support from Battelle, “Surge Columbus” can be implemented and will be an innovative national model.

“Battelle is proud to support Surge Columbus, a cutting-edge program that will change how teens in our community engage with technology,” said Eric Fingerhut, Vice President for Education & STEM Learning at Battelle. “We believe that networks are the best way to maximize impact, and are thrilled to see five institutions in Central Ohio approaching education with great innovation and collaboration.”

“Surge Columbus” will use connected learning theories as well as the “HOMAGO” (hang out/mess around/geek out) approach to engage teens in interest-driven projects, fostering 21st-century skills that support core curricular goals in the schools. “Surge Columbus” also marks a new era of partnership among institutions fostering informal “out-of-school” learning and devoted to offering abundant, interesting, and fulfilling programs for area teens, built on shared values and institutional missions.

“The Surge Columbus initiative allows each of the partner organizations to reimagine after-school opportunities for teens in a collaborative rather than competitive context,” said Cindy M. Foley, Columbus Museum of Art Director of Education. “That allows us to align our programming in areas where our missions match. We’re able to share resources and create a unified network of spaces, programs and mentors that have a real impact in our community.”

Programming and facilities will vary by institution, and “Surge Columbus” takes advantage of facilities and programming already being offered. Columbus Metropolitan Library opened its YouMedia Teens drop-in space in February 2013 at Main Library downtown, offering teens access to iPads, iMacs and Mac laptops loaded with apps and software to create music, videos, graphics and photography, with mentors on-site to help.

The Columbus Museum of Art offers a range of programs for teens, including Art Lab Teen Collective, which provides internships that meet on Wednesday afternoons. The Wexner Center for the Arts will build on its existing array of pioneering teen programs and digital workshops, such as WexLab and Pages. WOSU Public Media is refurbishing the Ross mediaLab at WOSU@COSI with digital storytelling tools to invite teens to experiment with images and sound, and to create media in various forms.

In addition to drop-in opportunities, special events and a cross-institutional teen council will emerge out of this fledgling collaboration. The five organizations will also cross-promote their teen events.

For more information, please visit the Surge Columbus blog at, or:

For Media Inquiries:

  • Surge Columbus- Meredith Hart, WOSU Public Media, 614.247.2675;
  • Battelle Memorial Institute – Katy Delaney, 614.424.7208 or, or T.R. Massey, 614.424.5544 or

For Consortium Media Contacts:

    • Columbus Metropolitan -Library Gregg Dodd, 614.849.1043 or
    • Columbus Museum of Art – Nancy Colvin, 614.629.0303 or
    • COSI -Jaclyn Reynolds, 614.629.3114 or
    • Wexner Center for the Arts- Erik Pepple, 614.292.9840 or

WOSU Public Media – Meredith Hart, 614.247.2675 or