Hundreds of area children and families in need will be able to visit the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, thanks to a $12,000 grant by Bankwell to the aquarium’s Children’s Opportunity Fund.

The fund is a restricted one that ensures the aquarium is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. The aquarium works with social service agencies in the area to identify underserved youth and families who could benefit from the educational and entertaining aspects of the aquarium, as well as the “safe space” it provides.

“We are grateful for Bankwell’s continuing support, and especially appreciate their enabling access to the aquarium by so many children and families who otherwise would not be able to afford it,” said Alicia Wettenstein, director of development for the Maritime Aquarium.

Bankwell also sponsors the IMAX movies National Parks Adventure, currently showing daily at the aquarium, and Dream Big, the first STEM-focused IMAX movie, opening daily Feb. 17.

Bankwell, which has a branch office in Wilton Center, is a commercial bank with nine branches and a loan production office that serve the personal and business banking and lending needs of customers throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties.