Inside Brian Sheth’s $1 Million Discovery Museum Grant
Self-made billionaire Brian Sheth is beloved in his hometown of Austin, Texas, for the charitable work he and his wife, Adria, contribute to the community.
But Sheth’s generosity isn’t restricted by geographical boundaries. He’s an enthusiastic environmentalist, donating time and money globally to aid the planet. Yet he still spares some assistance for his childhood home of Acton, Massachusetts, where he and his Sangreal Sheth Foundation awarded a five-year, $1 million challenge grant to the Discovery Museum.
“It is essential that businesses take action to protect and improve the health of our planet while also inspiring the next generation to further that vital work,” said Sheth. “I’ve long been inspired by the Discovery Museum’s good work in my hometown of Acton, and I’m proud to support their conversion to solar and their high-impact approach towards environmental education to reach and educate our youth.”
Carbon Neutral by 2025
Sheth’s cash infusion will be put to good use. Through on-site solar energy generation, building efficiencies on campus, and offering carbon offsets to visitors, the museum aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. In addition, by reducing consumption, waste generation, and water usage, Discovery says it will be able to reduce its environmental footprint by 50% and educate the community about its efforts to build environmental literacy across the region.
‘To Spark Delight’
The Discovery Museum is currently celebrating 40 years of serving the children of Massachusetts. Its website explains: “Our mission: To spark delight in learning by igniting curiosity and creativity in children and adults as they discover together the joys of science, nature, and play.”
And Brian Sheth’s generous contribution will benefit scores of local little ones.
According to Neil Gordon, CEO of the museum, “Building on our commitment to inspire lifelong curiosity and encourage children to see themselves as responsible caretakers of our natural environment, we have set energetic goals aimed at reducing the museum’s mark on the Earth — all to be carried out transparently and publicly as a model to all.” He acknowledges the support of the Sheth Sangreal Foundation and Brian and Adria Sheth are “both fostering awareness of and taking real steps toward environmental sustainability.”
‘Enjoy Our Planet’
As part of the museum’s mission, children who may not have easy access to the outdoors because of their family culture, living environment, or disability will be able to explore science- and nature-based exhibits and experience environmental education. To achieve parity with the demographics of the region, it will work to expand its audience and provide no- and low-cost services to schools and families by 50%.
The Sheth Sangreal Foundation matched a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund as part of the $1 million gift to the Discovery Museum to fund immediate site preparation for on-site solar installation. In addition, for the museum’s sustainability, education, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives, the foundation pledged an additional $800,000 as a multiyear challenge grant.
Says Sheth, “This initiative will teach the next generation first to enjoy and appreciate our planet, regardless of their background or experience, and then become the caretakers of its natural resources. We hope the museum’s leadership in this area will inspire other organizations to make similar commitments.”
More About Discovery Museum
The Discovery Museum was initially founded in 1982 and expanded into two museums in 1987. It offers hands-on activities that combine science, nature, and play, inspiring families to have fun together while learning. A natural playscape and 550-square-foot tree house are accessible from the museum’s Discovery Woods outdoor space, which is located on a 4.5-acre campus abutting 180 acres of conservation land. A renovated, 16,000-square-foot accessible building was opened in early 2018.
“We believe in play as the way that children learn,” the museum explains on its website. “In our case, it is play in both a STEM-rich environment and in a natural and inviting outdoor experience. Children are the most natural science learners. Given the slightest encouragement, they will ask a myriad of questions. If you surround children with stimulating materials and resources, they will follow their natural instincts to observe, predict, and experiment — in other words, to be scientists. Real stuff and simple materials are our preferred tools for learning. Add curiosity, creativity, and working together, and you have a simple recipe for creating successful learners.”
Developed by professional educators, hands-on, open-ended exhibits inspire curiosity and exploration in children and adults, providing them with a fun and engaging way to learn about the world. Dedicated to informal education that enhances classroom learning, the museum serves families and schools throughout the region.
In 2017, Discovery Museum received the Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented it with a 2018 LEAD Community Asset Award. The Discovery Museum is a nonprofit organization supported by the community. In addition, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, an agency of the state, supports Discovery Museum programming in part.
More About the Sheth Sangreal Foundation
Founded by Brian and Adria Sheth, the Sheth Sangreal Foundation is a charitable organization based in Austin, Texas. The foundation’s grant-making and best practices support networks provide needed resources and funds to help those who are most vulnerable flourish. The organization focuses on managing our planet’s health, protecting its biodiversity, educating children about music and the arts, and supporting veterans and their families.
Over 120,000 children worldwide have been impacted by the Sheth Sangreal Foundation, which has saved 50,000 miles of forest and 83 species from extinction. Its initiatives span over 80 countries and are supported by 430 projects and over 90 ongoing partnerships, governments, local authorities, and communities. In addition, the foundation has donated over $60 million to save the environment.
The Sheth Sangreal Foundation’s mission statement states, “For our children, our planet and our well-being, to ensure no one stands alone while protecting life in a changing world.” Through this foundation, Brian Sheth can make a real difference in the lives of millions of people through charitable and environmental initiatives, and ensuring a sustainable and well-functioning Discovery Museum is one of the many ways he’s doing so.