Inspiring creativity, curiosity, and lifeflong learning

aka Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose   |   San Jose, CA   |


Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose inspires creativity, curiosity and lifelong learning. Values include: Children--Respect for children & adults who support them, striving to respond to individual developmental needs, learning styles &cultures. Play--Essential to healthy development & lifelong learning. Integrity--Experiences rooted in authenticity, a spirit of discovery & commitment to excellence. Curiosity--Wondering, asking questions, exploring & inventing. Intersections--Multidisciplinary exploration, unexpected insights & new connections. Community--Celebrating people, cultures & discoveries, building global awareness &understanding. Learning--Interactive engagement with ideas, materials, environment, & technology promotes creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving & growth.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Marilee Jennings

Main address

180 Woz Way

San Jose, CA 95110 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's Museums (A52)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Science & Technology Museum (A57)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The critical nature of an early investment in the life of a child cannot be underestimated. The United Nations highlights the vital importance of early childhood development to the life of each individual and to the success of society: “Early childhood development is the key to a full and productive life for a child and to the progress of a nation. Early childhood is a critical stage of development that forms the foundation for children's future well-being and learning. Research has shown that half of a person's intelligence potential is developed by age four and that early childhood interventions can have a lasting effect on intellectual capacity, personality, and social behavior. Integrated programs that target children in their very early years are, therefore, critical for their mental and psychosocial development." Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose seeks to invest in early childhood development and positively impact families in the San Jose/Silicon Valley region.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Educational Exhibits

We believe play is essential to healthy development and lifelong learning. At Children’s Discovery Museum, over 400,000 annual visitors explore more than 150 interactive exhibits.
Neiman Art Studio: Children create their own artwork in an open-ended format.
BILL’S BACKYARD: Children are introduced to the wonders of nature, cultivating connections with the flora and fauna of our region, and experiencing endless opportunities to explore.
MAMMOTH DISCOVERY!: Visitors use investigation skills to make discoveries in science explorations based on the discovery of the fossils of a Columbian mammoth along the banks of the Guadalupe River.
RAINBOW MARKET: Children and families roleplay shopping in a farmer’s market and preparing healthy meals.
SECRETS OF CIRCLES: Visitors explore the math, science, and engineering of this ubiquitous geometric shape.
THE WONDER CABINET: In a sensory environment rich in materials and textures, children ages 4 and under engage in hands-on exploration.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

We encourage wondering asking questions, exploring and inventing. At Children’s Discovery Museum, educational experiences in science, the arts, and the humanities are rooted in the child’s familiar world.

Programs & Events in the Museum (View Photos of Events, )

Rooted in authenticity, a spirit of discovery, and a commitment to excellence, programs and events bring families together for shared experiences filled with the Arts, infused with STEM experiences, and taking a multidisciplinary approach to learning.

THEATRE PERFORMANCES: Professional, youth and community artists perform in our indoor and outdoor theaters on weekends, summers, and on special occasions throughout the year. (View Video for Theatre and Visual Arts)

VISUAL ARTS ACTIVITIES: Hands-on visual arts experiences honor the artists and artistic traditions of the diverse cultures in Silicon Valley.

OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES: Children are introduced to the natural world and to gardening, and have the chance to care for the environment and discover where the foods they eat come from. (View Bill’s Backyard Walk-through)

COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS: Holidays throughout the year offer opportunities to bring families together, learn new things, and share cultural experiences. View slideshows for Community Celebrations including Children of the Dragon, Lunar New Year, El Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos, Diwali, Lantern Festival, Menorahs & Miracles, and Family Lunadas.

THEME WEEKS: School breaks provide opportunities to provide thematic interactive experiences for children and families. Numerous partner organizations help make these events possible. Theme Weeks include Kids Like to Move It and Question Quest.

Programs & Events Behind the Scenes & In the Community

FAMILY SCIENCE NIGHTS: Developed by Museum educators with topics like Adventures with Chemistry, Toy Box Physics, Gadgets in Motion, and Amusement Park Science, Family Science Nights held at area schools bring children, parents, and teachers together to engage in hands-on science investigations.

DISCOVERY YOUTH: Our nationally recognized after-school media and community service program for middle school aged children.

SUMMER OF SERVICE: Our innovative summer day camp focused on community service for youth entering Grades 7 – 10. (View Photos)

COMMON GROUND: Centered around a shared meal, these cross-cultural facilitated conversations about cultural identity, family, homeland, and community create connections among people, identify important intersections between cultures, and help shape and inspire future exhibits and programs.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Children’s Discovery Museum further deepened its enduring service priority of reaching children and families reflective of our region through a unique collaboration with Educare California at Silicon Valley. Addressing disparities in access to education, Children’s Discovery Museum created an engaging Museum satellite that provides opportunities for interactive, hands-on learning for at-risk children through exhibits on location at Educare’s innovative preschool setting located in a very low income neighborhood in San Jose.
Indoors, the atrium spaces come alive with art and nature experiences inspired by our Out on a Limb traveling exhibition. Atrium exhibits include a giant climbing structure, a leaf-blowing tower, touch-boxes filled with natural materials, and tree wall where students display their art. The outdoor spaces are filled with art and nature play experiences, including giant outdoor musical instruments; a garden bed and art easels for each classroom; a dig pit; and tunnels

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work


Association of Children's Museums


Promising Practices Award 2011

Metropolitan Life Foundation and Association of Children's Museums

Excellence in Exhibitions Award 2007

American Association of Museums

Excellence in Exhibitions Award 2003

American Association of Museums

National Award for Museum Service 2001

Institute of Museum and Library Service

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Annual attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Educational Exhibits

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Total number (based on Fiscal Year Sep-Aug) of visitors. Due to COVID-19 the Museum closed March 5, 2020. We reopened our outdoor exhibit space Sep. 2020.

Number of Field Trip Participants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children, Infants and toddlers

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Fiscal year (Sept-Aug). The Museum closed due to COVID-19 on March 5, 2020. March, April & May are typically the months with the largest (by far) number of field trips.

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children, Infants and toddlers

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.


HAPPY TRAILS To address the lack of opportunities for today’s urban children to connect with nature, Children’s Discovery Museum has launched a new family environmental education program called Happy Trails. Building upon the Museum’s environmental expertise and unique outdoor learning environment, Happy Trails blazes a path for urban families to engage in outdoor exploration.

MPACT Millennials: Piloting Adaptive Change and Training engages a new generation of Museum leaders, and advances institutional understanding about the needs and expectations of today’s parents, to better understand what resonates with this audience of Millennials that is vital to our Museum’s future.

EXPLORATION PORTAL Looking ahead, we seek to generate support for the next phase of outdoor expansion: a multi-use Exploration Portal that sparks creativity and curiosity through introductory experiences in science and the arts, offering a street-side point of entry for visiting groups.

A. Creativity Through the Arts
B. Science Learning
C. Environmental Stewardship
D. Early Childhood Development
E. Inclusion & Cultural Competence
F. Childhood Obesity Prevention
G. Community Service Learning
H. In-House Exhibit Development
I. Learning Research
J. Partnerships & Resource Development

Art Loft, Art Studio & Art Gallery
Cultural Celebrations
Sunday Matinees & Summer Music Series

Major Exhibits
Question Quest
BioSITE Open House
Family Science Nights

Bill’s Backyard: Bridge to Nature
BioSITE (Students Investigating Their Environment)

The Wonder Cabinet Early Learning Laboratory
Educare Partnership
NSPIRE Initiative

Audience Development Initiatives
Library & Family Resource Center Outreach
Cultural Celebrations
Cultural Competence Learning Institute

Major Exhibits
Foodshed Café
Kids Like to Move It

Discovery Youth
Summer of Service
Martin Luther King Day

Satellite Exhibits at Educare California
Prototyping Labs
Discovery Express Train

On-Site Research Lab
Partnerships with the University of California, Santa Cruz and Stanford University
In-House Research

Corporate Sponsor Programs
Legacy for Children Award
Team Teal and Corporate Volunteers
Community Partner Organizations & Cultural Celebrations Advisors

BILL’S BACKYARD We completed major outdoor expansion, launching a half-acre, one-of-a-kind nature education environment. Thanks to overwhelming cmmunity support, Bill’s Backyard offers a bridge to nature for urban children and families--sparking curiosity, promoting science learning and environmental stewardship, and encouraging families to connect with the natural world.

PORTICO MURAL Our Museum contributed to San Jose’s beautification goals through largescale mural artworks. Visiting families are now welcomed by a dramatic immersive experience of brightly colored motifs and symbols, created by acclaimed artist Jaque Fragua.

MUSEUMS FOR ALL We announced participation in Museums for All, a national initiative of the Association of Children’s Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Designed to remove financial barriers for low income families, Museums for All makes it possible for families to build lifelong museum habits that promote learning and discovery.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Children, their families, caregivers and educators

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Based on feedback from our visitors we increased the length of our play sessions from 2 hours to 3 hours.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    The feedback we have received via our COVES (Culteral Organizations Visitor Experience Survey) has been invaluable as we have navigated the the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing that our visitors feel safe in our indoor and outdoor spaces has been of utmost importance. Survey responses show that our attention to cleaning/disinfecting is well appreciated. Their input guides our daily operations and helps set priorities. All COVES data is collected anonymously.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 10/14/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Kevan Krysler

Pure Storage

Term: 2020 - 2022

Board co-chair

Alan Marks

Community Volunteer

Term: 2020 - 2022

Paul Smith

Bain & Company

Renu Bhatia


Laura Fennell

Intuit, Inc.

Jana Arbanas

Deloitte LLP

Sonny Singh

Oracle Corporation

Irene Wong

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Patricia Eastman


Channing Flynn

Ernst & Young LLP

Christine Spindler

Shutterfly, Inc.

Charles Lynch


Tom Livermore


Craig Martin

FireEye, Inc.

Jay Hanson

Community Volunteer

Jeanette Calandra


Kathleen Ramirez

Adobe Systems Incorporated

Cindy Carter

Facebook, Inc.

KIm DeCarlis


Vy Tran


Iris Chen


Brian Brewster

Stealth Construction

Paula Delaney


Dan Amend

Toeniskoetter Development

Jia Li

Stanford University

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/22/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/22/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.