Boeing: The Library is a Launching Pad Where Curiosity Takes Flight

The Library is a Launching Pad Where Curiosity Takes Flight

Categories: Summer Learning Challenge, Support the Library Foundation

The Boeing Company likes to say it makes the impossible, possible. “From producing a single canvas-and-wood airplane to transforming how we fly over oceans and into the stars…” And it’s that reaching for the stars, and inspiring young people with possibilities, that distinguish the transformative programs Boeing supports through its gifts to the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

That support is fueled by two serious library champions: Dave Dohnalek, Senior Vice President of Finance and Treasurer of Boeing who is a Library Foundation Board Member and has three CPL Librarians in his family. And, Mike Cassel, Boeing’s director of Global Corporate Citizenship, is an avid life-long library user (he has the library card to prove it) and is a regular at Merlo, his local branch in Lakeview.

According to Mike, Boeing’s corporate vision also plays a role.

“The world is changing. Jobs are changing. Education is not always quick to adapt to changing times,” explains Mike. “As part of Boeing’s Centennial (1916-2016) we wanted to think about investing in the next generation for the next 100 years.”

boeing-team“One of our key commitments is to education, particularly project-based challenges with a STEM focus,” notes Mike. “Of course, we work closely with universities. But we know that when young kids are exposed to the building blocks of aviation engineering they want to go into it.”

Boeing discovered the perfect training ground for the aviation engineers of the future with the Library. And the Foundation is the perfect co-pilot to navigate support. “Chicago Public Library specifically aligns with the way Boeing looks at education,” Mike says.

In 2015, Boeing served as a lead sponsor for CPL’s award-winning Summer Learning Challenge. The program uses the library branches as launching pads for STEAM-based programs designed to captivate and challenge children and families.

CuriosityMachine_explorerguide_SLC2016“I expected the Library and the Foundation to be great partners. But they have gone above and beyond great. It’s incredible to see how passionate and professional the Library and Foundation staff members are about their work,” Mike continues. Now Boeing is taking its commitment even further. “From Boeing’s standpoint, sparking a love of learning is critical to the future of our country,” says Mike. Boeing will be introducing Iridescent Design Challenge in three branch libraries. Developed by Boeing engineers, this is a new project-based learning program, facilitated by trained librarians. “Design Challenge will harness the inherent curiosity in young people while engaging parents. Kids will work in teams to build specific projects using household items,” Mike explains.

“Library branches are welcoming settings for parents. We want students talking about their projects at home. Boeing aspires to start a new conversation about learning.” Mike believes Boeing has found ideal partners in Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Public Library Foundation. “What we have learned is the Library can reach so many kids and will work to develop programs for specific audiences,” Mike explains. “The Library has a wide and deep impact that moves the needle on education.

“If education is the jet fuel of innovation, curiosity is the throttle. And the library is where young people take flight.”

We Asked: What’s on the Boeing teams’ bookshelves?

  • Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence
  • Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  • Patti Smith, M Train
  • Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes


This article originally appeared in the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Library Foundation’s joint Annual Report. Thank you to our good donors who make these successes possible at Chicago Public Library. Please consider contributing a donation of your own here.