It's been less than a month since Keystone Science School began its urgent campaign to raise funds to buy the land it operates on, but the school is already well on the way to reaching its goal.
The science school has been a part of The Keystone Center for more than 35 years. At the end of 2012, the decision was made that the two would officially separate, becoming two independent nonprofit organizations. To continue at its current site, the science school intends to purchase that land from the center. Due to the center's need to meet certain obligations within the first and second quarters of 2013, the science school needs to raise $2.5 million for the land by Jan. 31.
Thanks to a mix of pledges and public donations within the community, the school has raised nearly $1.8 million so far.
"We're getting closer every day," said Ellen Reid, executive director of the science school. "This community has been unbelievable in coming to the table and rising to the challenge. People are being extremely generous and hopeful."
Last week featured two fundraising events put on by the science school, including a concert by Mike Blakely and a barbecue dinner. Match grant challenges, in which a donor agrees to match other donations dollar by dollar, assured success. The first event raised $28,000 and the concert raised $52,000.
"It's a way to incentivize people to give because they know their gift will be matched dollar by dollar by another donor," Reid said. "It's a way for them to garner additional support. They know their money's going to go farther and mean more."
One particular donor stood out during the concert benefit - a science school camper and third-grade student heard the call for a $50 donation.
"She raised her hand and said, 'I have $77 in my piggy bank and I'll give you $50 for it,'" Reid recalled. "It was so sweet to think of a third-grade girl who's been saving her money and to give over two-thirds of it to the science school campaign. It was so touching and sweet."
The science school has also taken to the Web to campaign on Facebook. A donor offered to match up to $3,000. For every "like" the page received, $1 went to the campaign and eventually reached the 3,000 goal.
There are no more fundraising events planned for the Campaign for the Keystone Science School due to time constraints. However, donations will be accepted any time up to the Jan. 31 deadline. To those who have already donated, Reid expressed her gratitude on behalf of the science school and the center.
"How do you say 'thank you' enough? I'm so grateful, seeing how much this place that means so much to me and to the science school staff and the Keystone Center staff and seeing how much this community embraces the work that we do has been overwhelming," Reid said. "It's a heartfelt thank you more than anything, I'm deeply grateful that this community has stepped up."