OAKLAND (CBS SF)– The Chabot Space & Science Center launched a pilot program Thursday giving low-income families with an Electronics Benefits Transfer (EBT) card admission to the center for $1 per person, science center officials said.

“We are really hoping to open the doors to a much broader population,” Chabot spokeswoman Autumn King said.

The program allows groups of ten people or less to pay $1 per person for admission by showing an EBT from any state. In California, the EBT card is called the Golden State Advantage Card and is available to families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“These are really low-income families,” director of Oakland’s Human Services department Sara Bedford said. Bedford’s department serves more than 1,700 families in Head Start, a program that helps children from low-income families develop social skills and ready themselves for school.

The program is open to nearly all 1,700 families and all low-income families with an EBT card. Low-income families can visit the museum as many times as they want during the year. Payment for each visit can be made in cash, debit or credit card.

There is something about space exploration, Bedford said.

Chabot Space & Science Center is located in the Oakland Hills and the recent start of weekend service to Chabot by the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) will make it easier for some families to get to the museum.

The “AC Transit component is just essential,” Bedford said.

Chabot joins other museums across the nation in encouraging their cohorts to offer low-income families visits to museums for a minimal fee. The goal is to expand to 125 the number of museums in the U.S. that do so.

“With a looming shortage of scientists, and a critical need for diversity in science fields, it’s important that science museums like Chabot fill a need in our communities to provide informal science education, Chabot’s executive director and CEO Alexander Zwissler said in a statement.

King said Chabot is the first museum in the state to institute the low-income family program and Zwissler is challenging other museums to follow suit.

The program at Chabot ends in March of 2016 and the museum is seeking money to allow it to continue the program after that.

“It’s time to dream big for Oakland’s kids,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “Today we offer them the moon and the stars because we know the sky is their only limit.”

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments (2)