Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama Blog

Proposed Challenger Learning Center in Northeast Alabama Receives $200,000 Commitment from CFNEA

The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama (CFNEA) has committed to grant $50,000 from the Northeast Alabama Education Impact Fund towards the purchase of a NASA-approved simulator and $30,000 a year for five years for education support from the Phillip A. Sanguinetti and Elise A. Sanguinetti Scholarship Fund

The simulator is the heart of the training center. It houses a briefing room (where 5th-8th grade students are introduced to the mission), a mission control center where the ground crew works with those in space to solve STEM problems and conduct lab experiments related to real-world issues, a shuttle for transport into space, and a spacecraft!

What is a Challenger Learning Center?

The center is a -

  • Simulative, fully immersive, space-themed STEM experience.
  • Takes place in four custom, specially fabricated rooms -Briefing, Transport, Spacecraft, and Mission Control.
  • Aligned with 5 – 8th grade national education standards and includes pre-and post-mission activities.

Programming is scalable for learners older than 8th grade.



Challenger Learning Centers are an outgrowth of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986. The global network of Challenger Learning Centers uses space-themed simulated learning and role-playing strategies developed by NASA to bring students' studies to life and ignite their passion for careers in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). It also helps cultivate skills needed for future success, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaborative work, as well as increases a child’s confidence in pursuing those fields. The majority of future jobs in our state will require a STEM background.

CFNEA’s funding, in partnership with many others, will enable students to participate in this high-tech, high-touch learning experience.

Currently, there are 44 centers in 27 states and 3 countries. The curriculum for each space mission is written by NASA and vetted against each state’s science and math curriculum to ensure relevance and continuity in education. This training augments the classroom by applying concepts and principles in an exciting, realistic space environment. Strong partnerships with K-12 are forged to ensure that attendance is equitable, distributed across school systems, and includes all students. As we work to diversify our workforce, we believe a Challenger Center will provide equal opportunity to young students who will be our future astronauts, engineers, pilots, healthcare workers, machinists, industrial analysts, electricians, etc.

To join CFNEA in bringing a Challenger Learning Center to Northeast Alabama, you can donate online at this link: or send a check to the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, 1130 Quintard Avenue, Suite 100, Anniston, Alabama 36201. CFNEA is serving as the fiscal sponsor for this endeavor until the Center is built.  For more information about the Challenger Learning Center in Northeast Alabama, visit:


Our future workforce and the first humans to walk on Mars are in school right now!