Dear Friends,

As the new chair of the board of directors, I am excited to update you on promising developments at Project Exploration. Over the past several months, the board and staff have been focused on mitigating the effects of a cash crisis that occurred in August of 2012, while ensuring that we continue to provide quality programs for youth. A report on the causes of the financial crisis and recommended next steps by an audit taskforce of board members and outside experts is now available upon request.

As we move forward, Project Exploration has taken several steps to restructure the organization to continue to provide great programs.  They are:

  • The board of directors elected new officers focused on restructuring the organization, taking steps regarding planning, strategy, and financial reporting that will avoid a cash flow crisis in the future.
  • We retained the services of Mission+Strategy to provide technical assistance and provide strategic and operations recommendations as part of a reorganization. Over the next four months, they will work with us to downsize unneeded organization assets, manage liabilities, and direct daily operations. Mission+Strategy’s Alan Goldberg has stepped in as Interim Executive Director, and will work with us through the end of April. Alan brings extensive experience in non-profit management to PE as we move forward.
  • Co-founder Gabrielle Lyon remains deeply involved with Project Exploration. She will serve on the board of directors, and will continue to support external relationships with funders and partners and be a resource to the program team for program planning and implementation.
  • We have hired Natasha Smith-Walker as our new Director of Programs. Natasha is an accomplished educator and manager and well-known in the youth-development and after school communities, including Afterschool Matters and Working in the Schools, among others.

Throughout this whole process, the staff and board have worked to ensure that students’ experiences and relationships with Project Exploration are as uninterrupted as possible. Sisters4Science is up and running, we’re days away from our spring break engineering program, gearing up for our 13th  annual Girls Health and Science Day, and summer program planning is already underway. In addition to these specific programs, we continue to support hundreds of young people with personalized support and ongoing access to life-changing experiences with science. We are committed to our long-term investment in a relationship-based model and encourage you to come see us in action any time. I encourage you to visit the Project Exploration blog for detailed updates and student accounts.

In the next few months, the board will develop a new strategic plan that builds on our strengths and contributions to the community. Fundraising for summer and fall programs and for much-needed capacity-building continues. Visit to join our monthly-giving program or make a one-time gift.

I want to personally thank you for your past support and let you know how much I look forward to working with you in the future. If you have questions about Project Exploration’s work or future plans, or if you would like a copy of the report from the audit taskforce, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (815) 644-4243 or


Matthew Blakely
Motorola Solutions Foundation
Chairman, Board of Directors, Project Exploration

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