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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has announced a $1 million gift to Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to create an endowment fund to support the North Carolina Science Festival.

“The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has supported the North Carolina Science Festival since its very beginnings,” said John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “By providing an endowment for the festival, we hope the citizens of North Carolina will continue to benefit from its work in engaging the public with science.”

The announcement took place Wednesday during a reception for event hosts who partner with the North Carolina Science Festival. Governor Pat McCrory delivered remarks and UNC system president Tom Ross accepted the gift on behalf of Morehead Planetarium.

The endowment gift will allow Morehead Planetarium to make long-term, strategic investments in the festival. Since Morehead Planetarium founded the festival in 2010, it has grown dramatically, holding events in 95 counties and reaching more than 330,000 participants in 2014. Events for 2015 will run April 10-26.

While Morehead Planetarium organizes the festival, hundreds of partner organizations including universities, schools, libraries, parks, businesses and museums host a series of festival events across the state, spanning two weeks each April. These events are designed to celebrate the cultural, educational and financial impact that science, technology, engineering and mathematics have on North Carolina. Events include hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits and performances to engage a wide range of public audiences.

“We couldn’t do the North Carolina Science Festival without support from organizations like the Burroughs Wellcome Fund,” said Todd Boyette, the festival’s co-founder and director of Morehead Planetarium. “We also couldn’t do it without all of our event hosts, who constantly amaze us with the quality of their events.”

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has also announced a $1 million gift to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. The fund is making both gifts in celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a constituent unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is one of the largest planetariums in the United States.

Published March 5, 2015