June 18, 2024
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Our view: Amgen’s generous gift keeps KidSTREAM’s goal in sight


KidSTREAM, the children’s museum housed in a former library building that is one of Ventura County’s architectural gems, has taken a huge step toward opening next year.

On May 22, the Camarillo nonprofit announced a transformative, $2 million gift from Amgen and the Amgen Foundation, one that will put it within striking distance of its $5.9 million goal.  

“There is nothing like this in the region,” board Chair Brian Yee, told the Business Times shortly after the announcement. “Now we’re going to be able to push it across the finish line.” 

We’ve been advocating for KidsSTREAM ever since we learned that Jefferson Elmendorf, a noted modernist who designed the original buildings on the California Lutheran University campus and Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, designed the structure that’s going to become the KidSTREAM facility.

Amgen, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, has been testing the waters for deeper involvement for some time. It has sent staff to help assemble STREAMKits, boxes packed with supplies that help children conduct experiments at home. The kits are available in English and Spanish, Yee said.

Yee has more than just a passing interest in kidSTREAM’s success. He has three young daughters who will use the museum and he serves as Amgen’s director of R&D, knowledge and learning, where he says its mission is to “solve the problem of bringing medicine to patients as soon as possible.” 

He credits the museum’s earliest donors, who gave small amounts when the museum was just an idea, for paving the way for Amgen’s major donation.

 “Amgen is excited to support kidSTREAM Children’s Museum, as we share a mutual goal of fostering a lifelong love of learning,” wrote Emily Razaqi, senior vice president at Amgen and Chair of the Amgen Foundation in a statement. 

“kidSTREAM is already making a difference, and is poised for major impact,” wrote Scott Heimlich, president of the Amgen Foundation.

Michael Shanklin, executive director of kidSTREAM, noted that Ventura County has the largest population of school-age kids in Southern California who don’t have ready access to a local museum. He called the gift “truly inspiring.”

The museum seems like it will pair well with Moxi in Santa Barbara, which focuses on experiential games and exhibits. KidSTREAM plans a broad mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits. We can’t wait to see how the design team led by Sean Leonard reimagines the original Elmendorf structure.


Trattoria Vittoria and Arnoldi’s in Santa Barbara. Mother’s Tavern in San Luis Obispo.

Tough times have hit the restaurant business across Southern California and the Central Coast is taking its share of hits. Part of the reason why so many restaurants are tossing in the napkin is that tastes are changing.

New, smaller menu items are in and traditional dining fare is out. Younger customers seem to want more of an experience and less of a nightclub or bar atmosphere. 

Still, on balance, there are more losses than gains as we head into the summer season. In restaurants as in life, nothing is certain but change.