feature campus calgary/open minds celebrates 25th anniversary

How do you describe a ground-breaking educational program that has positively impacted more than 100,000 students and 4,000 Calgary-area teachers over a quarter of a century and also garnered international recognition and awards?

For those who have participated in or supported the Campus Calgary/Open Minds program, it seems only superlatives will do . . .  words like “amazing”, “outstanding”, “incredible” and “transformative”.

Campus Calgary Open Minds Coordinators attend the 25th aniversery event

Indeed, those were just a few of the accolades showered upon the Campus Calgary/Open Minds (CCOM) program by more than 160 educators, civic officials and community partners who came together on June 15 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pioneering educational program, which Chevron Canada has sponsored since its inception.

From an inaugural site at the Calgary Zoo in 1993, Campus Calgary/Open Minds has since blossomed into 14 sites across the Calgary area, with annual enrollment exceeding 5,500 students and 200 teachers.

And the program continues to expand to meet surging demand by Calgary-area schools. In 2017, five new sites were piloted, four are continuing into 2019, and additional sites are being proposed for future consideration.

Chris Lough, co-chair of the CCOM advisory committee, attributes the program’s success to a long-term, committed partnership in which educators, community organizations and funders come together to create rich educational experiences in vibrant community settings such as a zoo, museum and science centre.

“We are gathered here today, as a community, to celebrate 25 years of giving students and their teachers opportunities to learn beyond the four walls of their traditional classrooms,” Lough told attendees at the celebration event, held at the Calgary Zoo. “It is because of all of you here today that these opportunities are possible.”

campus calgary/open minds celebrates 25th anniversary

Click the timeline to open the high resolution version.

Timeline showing the growth of the Open Minds program over the last 25 years

Rod Maier, vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron Canada, told attendees that investing in Open Minds delivers a social return on investment of about 4-to-1: that is, for every dollar invested, four dollars of value is created by the community.

“Funding a program for a quarter of a century requires a very strong business case, but Campus Calgary/Open Minds has made it easy for our company to continue to invest, thanks to the tremendous results it achieves year after year,” Maier said.

“I would like to thank all the community partners, site coordinators, teachers, students, parent volunteers, site volunteers, school boards, and all of those who make Campus Calgary/Open Minds the extraordinary program it is today. This collaboration is truly doing together what we can’t do alone.”

Chevron Canada sponsors five Open Minds sites across Canada, including three in Calgary, as well as sites in Fort McMurray, AB, and St. John’s, NL.

Campus Calgary Open Minds guests watch presentation

about campus calgary/open minds

Campus Calgary/Open Minds is an innovative curriculum-based program that moves the classroom into the community for an entire week. The experience is a catalyst for learning activities that occur throughout the year.  Classroom teachers work closely with community experts to custom design a week that meets individual needs. The program length, the deep thinking about first-hand experiences that go beyond curricular lines and the time to reflect, help take learning to new heights.

The Campus Calgary/Open Minds experience truly opens the minds of students, giving them a clearer idea of the role they play in the world around them. They become an informed and involved member of their community.  Once back in the classroom, students apply their understandings beyond their local setting to national and global communities.

Campus Calgary/Open Minds was founded by the Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic School District, Calgary Foundation and Chevron Canada. Program funders include Arts Commons, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Stampede Foundation, Cenovus Energy, City of Calgary, Jubilee Auditorium, Mustard Seed, the STEM Learning Lab and Chevron Canada.

Are you a parent, teacher or childcare provider looking for resources to engage in experiential learning on your own over the summer and during the school year?  Check out the CCOM website for ideas and resources and join the conversation.