In the course of the last two months, the Keystone Science School has conducted an urgent campaign to raise $2.5 million to buy the land it sits on from The Keystone Center. At the passing of the deadline, the school has raised a total of $2.3 million dollars and is confident that the remainder will be gathered shortly.
"We came very, very close and have a few generous donors who have indicated they may increase their gifts in the next week or so to help us reach our ultimate goal," Ellen Reid, executive director of the Keystone Science School, stated in an email. "We are truly amazed by the incredible and swift responses we've received to this campaign."
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. The next step was for the Keystone Science School to purchase its current site from The Keystone Center. Due to the center's need to meet certain obligations within the first and second quarters of 2013, the science school needed to raise $2.5 million for the land by Thursday.
A task force was created to raise the necessary funds and to develop a transition plan should the fundraising be successful. The task force consisted of 10 individuals who met every week for the past two months to develop a strategy. Fundraising was the most pressing aspect of this process.
Throughout the month of December, the task force conducted the "silent phase" of their campaign, contacting donors and supporters of the science school. January began the public phase, in which the task force turned to the community at large for support in quickly raising the necessary funds.
Two public events, a fajita dinner and a benefit concert, were arranged in short order. A Facebook campaign raised $3,000, with a donor offering to match every "Like" with $1.
"We used every kind of media we could, from the Summit Daily News to Twitter and Facebook and email, to contact all the families and friends of the science school," said Doug Sims, chairman of the task force. "It was truly a Summit County community effort."
The support rolled in on all sides, from day one and up to the end. On the last day of the fundraising campaign, Reid reported that the Keystone Science School received donations totaling $35,000. That amount was then matched by another donor. Overall, Reid said that 244 people donated to the campaign.
"I think the important thing for those of us on the task force was this wasn't a handful of people who did this," Sims said. "It was everything from young campers who shared their piggy banks to donors that wrote fairly sizeable checks to help us and everything in between."
"We are optimistic that our formal proposal to The Keystone Center's Board of Trustees next week will be received favorably," Reid stated.
The positive feelings of the campaign's success appear to be mutual, as The Keystone Center expressed its encouragement through a statement by Gary Grappo, president and CEO of The Keystone Center. The statement mentioned the partnership between the center and the science school and the desire to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
"I am impressed by the efforts of the KSS Task Force and heartened by the community's response, which I view as a testament to Keystone Science School's strong reputation in and importance to the community," the statement read.
Plans are in place to make the transition go smoothly, providing the board approves the task force proposal, said Reid. Most of the changes will be focused internally and should not outwardly affect any of the science school's programs.
"It's uplifting to see this kind of support in such a short amount of time," Reid said. "We're just gratified. ... We feel like we're in the right place."