The Keystone Center Board of Trustees approved the transition of the Keystone Science School into a separate, independent nonprofit organization at the center's annual meeting Tuesday.
According to the terms of the separation, the science school will purchase its 23-acre campus and all school operations from The Keystone Center. Since late 2012, a local task force has worked on behalf of the school to raise the necessary funds for the purchase. After a two-month campaign it raised roughly $2.3 million, most of which came from the Summit County community.
Plans are in place to make the transition go smoothly, with the separation expected to be finalized in early spring. The majority of changes will be administrative, said The Keystone Center CEO Gary Grappo, and should not outwardly affect any of the organizations' programs.
The history between the school and the center has been long and close. The science school came into being just one year after center started in 1975. For the next 36 years, the two worked in conjunction to promote education and address societal challenges.
After founding the center, which brought professionals and the public together, Bob Craig had a younger generation in mind when he followed up by founding the science school.
"It was to bring these critical-thinking skills and the respect for science to kids ... in the same way that they were trying to garner respect for science and for the cooperative process in leaders," said Robyn Brewer, director of marketing communications at the center. Craig's vision, she said, was to "raise a generation of thinkers who already respect science and understand that collaboration can be a valuable way to solve problems."
With a multitude of camps, school, educator and community programs, the science school worked to make its mark on young minds - minds with the potential to grow into the very leaders and professionals that the center sought to highlight.
"Throughout its history, The Keystone Center has invested a great deal of time, money and energy in the success of the science school," Craig said in a statement. "The science school has been an extremely important facet of The Keystone Center's focus on science as the governing element in its public policy process. It is wonderful to see how the school's reputation has been solidified in the community and I'm grateful that it will continue to serve its original mission of instilling a love of science in children."
Although the center and the school will soon be separate organizations, the split is completely amicable, Brewer said, and the sense of connection remains.
"We really want the community to know that this effort, this split, has been a partnership effort," she said. "We were an organization with one mission and the school, under the care of The Keystone Center, has really been nurtured and gotten to this place where now it is strong enough to bloom on its own."
The center, which has an office in Washington, D.C., will retain its headquarters in Keystone and continue its programs. The two organizations have expressed interest in seeking ways to partner in the future.
"The science school is very grateful to The Keystone Center's board and staff for their support and partnership in taking this historic step," Doug Sims, chairman of the science school's board of directors, said in a statement. "We look forward to a very bright future."
Science school executive director Ellen Reid agreed. "We're grateful to the community and to everyone who supported our campaign," she said. "We're exited to look forward to the next chapter of this journey and continue to offer important educational programs."