Springboard Celebrates 50 Years Serving St. Louis Children
Springboard to Learning began with a simple idea. St. Louis resident Elise “Leesy” Schweich, a former teacher, had traveled the world extensively with her husband Joseph Schweich, learning firsthand about other peoples and cultures. Returning to St. Louis, the teacher in Mrs. Schweich lamented St. Louis schoolchildren were afforded a limited worldview and lacked opportunities for experiences outside their own neighborhoods. With that idea, Springboard to Learning was born. Mrs. Schweich began visiting Ford School in the St. Louis Public School District in fall of 1965 – sharing cultural stories and artifacts from her many trips abroad. That first year, Mrs. Schweich reached 462 students! Interest grew, and soon Mrs. Schweich expanded her visits to include enrichment lessons in arts, sciences and humanities. In 1966, Springboard to Learning officially launched under a Title I grant. Two years later additional teaching specialists were recruited to deliver more programs to even more children, particularly those in under-served communities. Their programs engaged, informed, and inspired students to learn more about the world through multidisciplinary, hands-on lessons.
In 2006, Springboard to Learning merged with Young Audiences – an organization dedicated to bringing cultural resources to schools – and became the local affiliate of the nationwide organization. The combined organization is now simply known as Springboard.
Today, Springboard continues serving economically challenged schools and reaches more than 50,000 students annually.