Access to Early Childhood educational experiences are a key factor to school success. Research indicates that the highest-quality programs provide young children with the opportunity for play-to-learn experiences. CML offers a unique opportunity to engage in play that fosters cognitive, social/emotional and fine and gross motor development in a safe environment.

CML’s Early Education Access Fund

Did you know? For each dollar invested in Early Childhood Development, society saves $7 in future costs. Furthermore, the highest rate of return comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through 5, in under-resourced families. During these very early years, the brain is developing rapidly, building the foundation for cognitive and character skills that are necessary for success in school, career and life. Developing and refining these skills early leads to more capable, productive and valuable citizens who will pay dividends to generations to come.

23% of all children in the tri-county area are living in poverty and only 40% of SC 4-year-olds are enrolled in federally funded Pre-K programs. The needs that these young children and families face are urgent and their resources remain limited and fragmented.

CML seeks to be a critical part of the solution. Through the Early Education Access Fund, the Museum aims to provide affordable access to high-quality programming and experiences for low-income children and families. CML and its key stakeholders feel that it is their duty and responsibility to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the community’s youngest citizens.

Baby Scholars: Prenatal

CML partners with Florence Crittenton Residential Program of Charleston to provide a monthly program called Baby Scholars for at-risk pregnant women ages 21 and under. The goals of the program are: 1) to impart the value of strong, healthy mother-child connections and to develop and build these relationships, 2) to convey the importance of language and literacy as it relates to a child’s school readiness and  3) to provide access to the Museum as a place where mother and child can learn and grow together.

Early Connections: Birth – 3 Years

Designed to enhance connections between children and their caregivers, Early Connections strengthens literacy, social skills, communication and problem-solving while building self-confidence. CML is working to gain additional funding through the Early Education Access Fund to expand this program to early childhood providers within the community.

CML Camp Scholarships: 3 – 10 Years

Throughout the year, CML offers a series of out-of-school camp programs that explore a variety of themes and engage children in independent play. These programs are developed to encourage social interaction and leadership skills as well as foster an image of positive self-worth. Resources for free or low-cost camps and activities are limited, and too many low-income children spend school breaks with extended periods of unstructured and unsupervised time. CML’s solution is to provide camp scholarships, providing children with a safe, creative environment where they can explore, learn and play.

Families Together

CML proudly participates in the Museums for All cooperative initiative between the Institute of Library Sciences (IMLS) and the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). This program aims to ensure that every family and child has access to a high-quality museum experience by offering anytime $1 admission to individuals or families of up to 6 people upon presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

Free Family Fridays is a cornerstone program for CML, providing free access to the Museum for under-resourced children and families seven times per year. Participants are welcomed into the Museum on the second Friday of each month during the school year from 4pm – 7pm. Additionally, each child is given an age-appropriate book and families are given a pass to return to CML at their convenience. The Museum also collaborates with several community partners during each event to offer exposure to other low- or no-cost services and programs within the community. Approximately 600 children and families attend each event.

Each year, CML offers a limited number of families in need an annual family membership through our Warm Welcome Membership program. Qualified candidates will receive free admission and anytime access to Museum programming throughout the year. CML currently has 48 Warm Welcome Memberships and a waiting list with 29 families.


Other programs that are supported by CML’s Early Education Access Fund include Title One School Field Trips, SuperStars and FAM JAM.

Employer Matching Gifts

Many companies, including Blackbaud and Boeing, match the charitable donations made by their employees. If you or your spouse work for or are retired from a company that offers this benefit, your gift to the Children’s Museum may be doubled or even tripled. Please ask your company’s Human Resources department about matching gifts.

View our corporate sponsors >

We are now offering the option of recurring online gifts. Please select the frequency of your gift at check out.

Alternate ways to give include by phone, monthly bankdraft, stocks & securities and planned gifts. For more information, contact our Director of Development, Ellie Tiller at 843.853.8962 x238 or ellie@exploreCML.org .

Admission and membership prices to CML provide only 53% of our annual operating expenses. We count on the generosity of our visitors to help us maintain our Museum as well as our extraordinary programming opportunities. All gifts are welcome and no amount is too small. All gifts are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.