Museum of Prairiefire Foundation
5801 W. 135th St.
Overland Park KS 66223
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (913) 333-3500
Mission Statement
Through a unique collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, as well as with other cultural and educational institutions in the nation, the Museum at Prairiefire provides access for all to understand and celebrate natural history and science in our region and around the world. The Museum engages visitors and students with world-class exhibitions, important programming, and significant educational and STEM opportunities.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Donna M. Deeds
Board Chair Mr. Fred L. Merrill Jr.
Board Chair Company Affiliation Merrill Companies
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2008
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement Through a unique collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, as well as with other cultural and educational institutions in the nation, the Museum at Prairiefire provides access for all to understand and celebrate natural history and science in our region and around the world. The Museum engages visitors and students with world-class exhibitions, important programming, and significant educational and STEM opportunities.
Background Statement
Opened in May of 2014, the Museum at Prairiefire (MAP) is a 42,000 square foot facility with the following key features and experiences: a gallery (8,000 sq. ft.) with exhibitions organized by American Museum of Natural History; the Great Hall (1,500 sq. ft.); the Discovery Room (5,000 sq. ft.); plus classrooms, a gift shop, and an outdoor terrace and wetlands reserve.
MAP is an affiliate of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, and the only Museum outside of New York entitled to host full-scale AMNH exhibitions with a full complement of education materials developed by AMNH staff. All of the education programs offered at MAP are aligned with state and federal standards.
Donna M. Deeds became President of the Museum in December 2015. Ms. Deeds was the original leader, designer and executor of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program for the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas from 2008 – 2014. Additionally, she served as the Regional Executive Director of Northland CAPS, responsible for seven school districts in the northern part of Kansas City.
Impact Statement
Accomplishments in FY2015:
  • Created a partnership with the Church of the Resurrection to bring students from their Adopt-a-School program to MAP. These students come from elementary schools in the six lowest income districts in the region (three in KCMO and three in KCK).
  • Secured early booking for Brain: The Inside Story field trips, with 95% of available spots scheduled before the exhibition opened.
  • Introduced Junior Adventurers at the Museum (JAM), an after school program of inquiry-based learning activities for children in the 3rd to 5th grades.
  • Launched 2016 Paleontology Rocks! Summer Camps for middle school students.
  • Developed Uncovering Science, a weekend program for families with hands-on, inquiry-based science experiments.
Goals for Current Year (FY2016):
  • Launch Kansas City Urban Advantage, a comprehensive K-6 education program that brings students from the inner city to the museum for a field trip experience that also includes standards-based education materials for the classroom, professional development activities for teachers, and special museum events for the students and their families.
  • Repurpose the under-utilized Science Theater, creating in its place a Virtual Reality Theater.
  • Continue to cultivate and form partnerships with corporations, institutions of higher learning, and foundations.
Needs Statement
1. Increase financial sustainability
  • 30% increase in ticket sales
  • 40% renewal rate of memberships
  • 3,000 new memberships
  • 20 Corporate memberships
2. Improve organizational effectiveness
  • Consolidate and streamline all financial processes, e.g. purchasing, donations, field trip billing, events
  • Streamline facilities and IT support to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Create a culture of innovation, cutting edge technologies, collaboration, and accountability
3. Raise community awareness of the Museum
  • Develop a marketing and communications strategy using multiple channels to meet the needs of different stakeholders
  • Social media targets
  • Exhibition marketing, e.g. billboards, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines
  • Newsletter – shorter and more frequent
  • Perform 400+ MAP informational presentations to businesses, Rotary, Optimist, Chamber events, etc.
4. Develop or strengthen strategic partnerships
  • Develop deep, long-term business partnerships with corporations in the KC region
  • Develop partnerships with Kansas City school districts
  • Develop partnerships with nationally recognized higher education institutions to provide guest lecturers, access to cutting-edge scientific research, and potentially college credit for participants
5. Continue to develop world-class programming and exhibitions
Service Categories
Natural History, Natural Science Museums
Areas of Service
KS - Johnson County
KS - Wyandotte County
MO - Clay County
MO - Jackson County
MO - Platte County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
The Museum at Prairiefire is an institution with great potential, and we realize more of that potential every day. With the help of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and program partners such as Saint Luke’s Health System, Garmin, and Black & Veatch, we are offering some of the finest STEM-related educational experiences in the region. Our Kansas City Urban Advantage program is innovative in this regard, for it brings underserved students from the urban core to the museum for first-rate STEM educational activities, and serves the students’ teachers and families as well.
The full-scale AMNH exhibitions, which change twice yearly, are a source of delight and wonder to young and old alike. Educators can take advantage of high-quality education materials that AMNH has developed specific to each exhibition; these materials can be used in the classroom both before and after the students’ visit.
There is much more happening at the Museum than this statement can possibly cover. Our challenge is to keep developing innovative programs while meeting the financial needs of the organization. We are grateful to our donors for supporting these efforts.
Description As an affiliate of the world-renowned American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, the Museum at Prairiefire (MAP) is the only institution authorized by AMNH to show its exhibitions in another part of the country. The 8,000-square-foot Main Exhibition Gallery at MAP was designed and constructed with these exhibitions in mind. Their subjects cover every aspect of science and natural history, from the innermost workings of the human brain to the world’s largest dinosaurs. The exhibitions contain interactive features to keep museum goers of all ages engaged. Teachers have access to Educator Guides and other educational materials prepared by the more than 500 scientists and educators at AMNH. Teachers can use these standards-based materials to help prepare their students for seeing the exhibitions, and for further exploration back in the classroom. The exhibitions change twice each year, and are seen by approximately 160,000 guests annually.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museum Education
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years), ,
Short-Term Success
Students who have experienced the Museum’s AMNH exhibitions are eager to learn more about the subject areas covered. They have a new or renewed interest in science-based education, leading to better school attendance, more participation in the classroom, and better attitudes toward school.
Long-Term Success
As more schools and families become familiar with the quality and content of AMNH exhibitions at Prairiefire, museum attendance will increase. Visitors will watch for the openings of new exhibitions, and schools will take advantage of group scheduling to plan their field trips.
The standards-based educational materials provided by AMNH will be used in classrooms pre- and post-visits, reinforcing the STEM-related exhibition content and leading to increased performance by students on standardized tests.
One measure of long-term success would be the number of students pursuing further STEM-related education and eventually entering STEM-related occupations (including teaching jobs).
Program Success Monitored By
Students will demonstrate better school attendance and participation in the classroom. They will also demonstrate higher scores on standardized tests.
Examples of Program Success Every day we see success stories taking shape in the Main Exhibition Gallery. Students love the subjects of the exhibitions, which include rare animals and dinosaurs. The interactive features of the exhibitions keep students engaged, and they leave the Museum with a new or renewed interest in STEM-related education.
Kansas City Urban Advantage (KCUA) brings underserved inner-city youth to the Museum for standards-based STEM education. Six urban elementary schools—three in Missouri and three in Kansas—currently participate. Students and teachers enjoy free transportation, lunch, and a half-day or full-day field trip. They tour the AMNH exhibition, visit the Discovery Room with its seven learning areas, and learn digital literacy skills in the museum’s classroom. Students receive passes so they may return to the museum with their families for free; teachers receive classroom materials and are invited to professional development events during the year.
Museum educators visit the students’ classrooms to monitor their progress. Students take a second trip to the museum later in the year, when a new AMNH exhibition is on display. At that time they are given a post-assessment on their digital literacy skills, to be compared with the pre-assessment they took on their first visit.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museum Education
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years), ,
Short-Term Success
Students who have been excited and challenged by what they have experienced at the museum are likely to show a new interest in attending school, staying attentive and completing assignments. Because they are able, after their field trips, to return to the museum with their parents and siblings, they will enjoy family time in a setting where the whole family can work on a science inquiry together.
Teachers will receive excellent learning materials to use in the classroom, and this will improve their morale as well. The professional development sessions at the museum will boost their confidence; mentorships and apprenticeships offered by Garmin and Black & Veatch will give them exciting new insight into STEM-related fields.
Long-Term Success There are not enough workers to fill the STEM-related jobs that are growing fast in the U.S. Also, there are not enough STEM teachers to train students to take these jobs. KCUA addresses this situation by providing young students with STEM experiences that will interest them in science and STEM-related careers, including teaching. Exposure to STEM education at the museum is a quality experience they are not offered in their public schools.
Program Success Monitored By
The MAP educator visits to the schools are an important part of program evaluation. Educators will get a firsthand look at the effects of KCUA in the classroom, and gauge students’ progress in learning the digital literacy curriculum from their computer session at the museum. When students return to the museum for their second field trip, they take a post-assessment test to compare their skills to the pre-assessment test from their first trip, measuring their success in learning the principles of digital literacy.
Midway through the program year, focus groups and a random sample survey will gather anecdotal and perception data. At the end of the school year, focus groups will again be convened and a random sample survey conducted. At that time a Partner Satisfaction Survey will also be administered. Teachers will also give feedback on the program, and families who participate in related activities at the museum will be asked to complete surveys.
Examples of Program Success At this time it is still early in the program to gather success stories. We have confidence, though, that KCUA will make a difference in the lives of students, their teachers, and families. The original Urban Advantage New York program has been operative for more than 10 years now, and has yielded data showing that it has a dramatic effect on students’ interest in and involvement with science. Similarly, an Urban Advantage Metro Denver program has also shown good results. KCUA is only the third Urban Advantage program to be founded in the country.
Description Soon after the museum opened, staff noticed that families and caregivers were bringing in very young children, ages 3-5. These children have great curiosity and are eager to learn; they are still developing their language skills, but they can understand scientific concepts if they are communicated in the right way. Parents were also very interested in getting their children to learn. The Little Explorers Club was founded to meet this need. The Club meets twice a month on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. There is also a Tuesday afternoon session to accommodate children who are in day care in the morning. Each 45-minute session is focused on hands-on activities—learning by doing. A short and exciting lesson is followed by story time, an activity or experiment, an artifact or animal encounter, and a craft. For example, in a session devoted to learning about preservation, children made “mummies” by wrapping string around small wooden figures.
Category Education, General/Other Early Childhood Education
Population Served Infants to Preschool (under age 5), ,
Short-Term Success Active children become absorbed in learning and listening, through activities as simple as learning to use a magnifying glass. They ask questions and express interest in learning more. They understand new words and concepts from session to session. Little Explorers Club is a destination for parents who are seeking high-quality activities for their kids; many of them are regular attendees.
Long-Term Success This activity stimulates young minds and introduces scientific inquiry as a pleasurable pursuit. As a result, children will perform well in science classes and may go on to STEM-related careers.
Program Success Monitored By There are no learning standards for children in this age group. However, direct observation shows that the Club sessions are engaging, stimulating, and fun for Little Explorers. They enjoy coming back, and their parents enjoy bringing them.
Examples of Program Success In FY2015, 1,800 children participated in the program. Children and parents alike enjoyed the program, and there were many repeat visitors.
Description Paleontology Rocks! is a summer camp experience for rising 5th to rising 8th graders. The students have a 4-hour Museum visit four days in a row. These are interactive sessions that teach the basics of geology and paleontology, of identifying and preparing fossils. After students learn the essentials, they are eligible for an overnight camp-out near Russell, Kansas. In that setting they look at outcrops and make observations of the rocks and fossils, speculating on what the environment was like when the rocks were forming, and how long animals had been around.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museum Education
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years), ,
Short-Term Success By receiving more intensive education in geology and paleontology than they get in school, students quickly take an interest and become absorbed in science-based activities.
Long-Term Success
Students will pursue education in geology and paleontology, and consider academic and professional careers in those fields.
Program Success Monitored By Students express their enthusiasm, apply to return to camp in the following years, and recommend camp to others.
Examples of Program Success The best success stories have to do with students who are having so much fun in the program that they don’t even realize they’re learning. Some students don’t want to go on the overnight camp-out, but have a great time when they do.
Description For the curious at heart, Science Happy Hours feature informal, expert presentations on diverse topics ranging from astronomy to zoology. The Bioscience Happy Hours feature animal, plant, environmental, and biotech topics. Appetizers and drinks are included with the ticket price of $10.00.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museum Audience Services
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success Guests will experience a new curiosity about science, and will want to return to the museum, bringing their families with them.
Long-Term Success Because their interest in science has been stimulated or rekindled, guests will be open to ongoing science-related experiences and activities going forward.
Program Success Monitored By Attendance is one success measurement, and these sessions are well-attended. Invariably, guests approach the presenter after the session with more questions. Guests also suggest topics for future sessions.
Examples of Program Success Informal, anecdotal evidence suggests that adults have the same museum experience as their kids—they are enjoying themselves so much they don’t realize they’re learning.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Donna M. Deeds
Term Start Dec 2015
Ms. Deeds has been President of the Museum at Prairiefire since December of 2015. Prior to that she was original leader of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) for the Blue Valley School District. She also served as the Regional Executive Director of Northland CAPS, covering seven school districts in northern Kansas City.
CAPS provides high school students the skills needed to succeed in competitive college environments and the global work force, particularly in STEM-related fields. In 2011 the CAPS program won the prestigious Edison Gold Award for most innovative product. In 2013, CAPS won an Innovation Incubator Award from the National Business Incubators Association. To date, 33 school districts in 9 states are replicating the CAPS model in their communities.
Ms. Deeds has also consulted for Lore International and held senior management roles at Sprint.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start
Compensation Last Year
Senior Staff
Title Manager of Marketing and Communications
Title Education Visit Manager
Paid Full-Time Staff 10
Paid Part-Time Staff 12
Volunteers 97
Paid Contractors 2
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistleblower Policy No
Saint Luke's Health System, Black & Veatch, Garmin, Kansas City Zoo, Johnson County Community College, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Baker University, Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead, Friends of Alvin Ailey KC, American Jazz Museum, all local school districts.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Fred L. Merrill Jr.
Company Affiliation Merrill Companies
Term May 2014 to Dec 2016
Board Members
Ms. Mary Birch Lathrop & Gage, LLP
Dr. Ted Cable Kansas State University
Dr. Michael S. Engel American Museum of Natural History
Dr. Michael Grossman QM Power, Inc.
Mr. David Hill Hill Financial
Mr. Fred L. Merrill Jr.Merrill Companies
Ms. Candy Merrill Merrill Companies
Ms. Suze Parker Parker Communications Group
Mr. Bill Snyder Kansas State University
Dr. Joseph M. Sopcich Johnson County Community College
Ms. Debbie Sosland-Edelman Sosland Foundation
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 11
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $3,451,547
Projected Expenses $3,451,547
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2015, 2014, 2013: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$2,024,480$856,104$238,556
Administration Expense$1,109,214$1,316,904$92,561
Fundraising Expense$33,050$0$53,740
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.301.682.05
Program Expense/Total Expenses64%39%62%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue17%0%7%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$3,739,942$4,255,876$897,933
Current Assets$1,004,774$1,758,481$896,534
Long-Term Liabilities$2,331,259$962,343$527
Current Liabilities$1,485,049$1,161,890$92,973
Total Net Assets($76,366)$2,131,643$804,433
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.681.519.64
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets62%23%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $65,000 -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $50,000 -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountAnonymous $20,000 -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Organization Name Museum of Prairiefire Foundation
Address 5801 W. 135th St.
Overland Park, KS 66223
Primary Phone (913) 333-3500
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Donna M. Deeds
Board Chair Mr. Fred L. Merrill Jr.
Board Chair Company Affiliation Merrill Companies
Year of Incorporation 2008