Partnership highlight: Great minds Thinkery alike

Written by Antwon R. Martin

One of the greatest opportunities a community can give its children is an enriching environment that promotes learning and growth. That’s why we’re honored to tell you about our longtime community partner, Thinkery.

Thinkery has been part of the Austin community for nearly four decades, providing an impressive children’s museum experience that engages and educates kids of all ages.

From donations of museum memberships to the incredible STEAM from the Start project (more on that below!), SAFE has collaborated with Thinkery in a variety of ways.

SAFE and Thinkery, together

Image description: A colorful photo of an exhibit at Thinkery. The silhouettes of three children are in visible over a swirl of blues, purples, greens, and oranges. Photo courtesy of Thinkery.

Since 2014, Thinkery has donated items for families in need at SAFE’s shelters, gifted museum memberships to SAFE clients, led gingerbread house workshops at our Children’s Shelter, participated in foster and adoption awareness events, and much more.

One of our most impactful collaborations has been Thinkery’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) from the Start project. This year, STEAM from the Start will serve up to 325 individuals, including as many as 110 pre-kindergarteners—children who are at a critical stage of social and emotional development.

“Thinkery has a great responsibility to create inspirational learning experiences for ALL children in Central Texas,” said Dana Mahoney Domingue, Thinkery Director of Community Engagement. “Our long-time partnership with The SAFE Alliance continues to grow and the opportunity to share inquiry-rich, STEAM based education opportunities is a deep honor. As trusted community hubs, both Thinkery and SAFE can make a big impact in providing stability in a young person’s life through the joy of playful learning.”

Through STEAM from the Start, SAFE and two other wonderful Austin nonprofits—Child Inc. and Foundation Communities—support parents of young children in our community. By utilizing SAFE’s Strong Start program, up to 40 parents receive evidence-based education and support to strengthen their parenting skills, improve interactions with their children, and strengthen families at risk of violence and abuse.

“SAFE is excited and grateful to partner with Thinkery to provide skills for living healthier, happier lives for families in the Austin area, both individually and in their families, said Genevieve Deas, SAFE Family Support Services Project Manager. “Through this partnership, we aim to help parents gain knowledge and skills to cope with future challenges and break unhealthy patterns from their youth—helping end cycles of poverty and instability while making systemic, healthy changes for their families.”

During the 2021-22 school year, in total STEAM from the Start will provide support to up to 108 pre-K children and more than 100 parents. SAFE is thrilled to enter our third year as a STEAM from the Start partner!

Our partnership in action

Image description: A photo of two young children wearing smocks. They are playing at an art exhibit at Thinkery.

Image description: A photo of two young children wearing smocks. They are playing at an art exhibit at Thinkery. Photo courtesy of Thinkery.

Collaborating with Thinkery has allowed us to reach even more families in our community. During our Strong Start program’s first parenting group at Child Inc, we had eight parents in the kickoff session.

Unsure of what to expect, parents were quiet, a little uncomfortable, and uncertain. By the second session, parents began to participate and open up more, and by session three, the parents were bringing their partners and friends along. Starting session 4, we had a completely full house!

As the sessions continued, parents truly began to bond and connect openly and willingly. One parent suggested creating a Whatsapp support group, where they could connect via their cell phones and share parenting tips and suggestions. This group continues to actively participate in their support chat on Whatsapp, and are in the process of planning a family picnic together.

Participants are opening up about their daily parenting successes and their struggles. They are talking to each other with empathy, understanding, and support. They have truly built a community!

One participant said that is the first time since she moved to the United States that she feels supported as a mother.

A children’s museum and so much more

Thinkery is Austin’s home for “why” and “how.” It’s their mission to create innovative learning experiences that equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers. Thnkery offers 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs hosted throughout the community to let children and families to learn through play. It’s a place where science and families play side by side and people connect with ideas by doing, making, and experiencing.

Through a variety of hands-on, interactive STEAM exhibits and programs, Thinkery encourages physical, emotional and cognitive development for young learners and fosters joyful curiosity for all ages.

Learn more about Thinkery and plan a visit at

All photos in this story courtesy of Thinkery.