Keystone Science School striking out on its own |

Keystone Science School striking out on its own

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

One year after The Keystone Center’s inception in 1975, the Keystone Science School came into being. Starting as a science camp and school program, the school has grown to include a slew of educational programs, summer camp offerings and educator programs. Now, the school is taking the next step, separating from the Keystone Center to become its own independent nonprofit organization.

The Keystone Center’s Board of Trustees recently approved the formation of a task force to assess its options. Citing divergent markets and business models, its top recommendation was to restructure the organization into two independent non-profit organizations: The Keystone Center and Keystone Science School.

“The Keystone Center and Keystone Science School have been formally linked for nearly four decades,” Keystone Center president and CEO Gary Grappo stated in a written statement. “While our missions continue to be complementary and our goal is to continue working together as partners, moving forward independently, with focused attention on individual mission and markets, can ensure continued success for both Summit County-based organizations.”

The school is currently in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In order to continue on in its current site, the school plans to purchase the land from The Keystone Center. Due to the center’s need to meet certain obligations within the first and second quarters of 2013, the school needs to raise $2.5 million to buy the land by Jan. 31. The fundraising committee has already raised $1.4 million in pledges and has now opened the campaign to the public in hopes that community support will help achieve its goal.

Despite the changes, the school does not intend for this to affect any of its programs.

“We’ll continue to offer the same strong suite of programs we’ve developed, remaining true to our mission and working on strengthening partnerships within the community,” Ellen Reid, executive director of the school, stated in an email.

Currently, the school serves more than 5,000 students and several hundred teachers each year. Throughout the year, school programs give students the opportunity to learn more about the environment and methods of scientific inquiry. The goal is to teach students to develop critical thinking skills in a natural outdoor setting. Various community programs offer similar experiences to adults, both guests and residents of Summit County. Educator programs for teachers revolve around science, engineering, technology and math skills, with emphasis on such skills as critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving. The trainings are free of cost to the teachers.

“I fully support this course of action as the best way to ensure that both The Keystone Center’s work and the science school’s excellent programs will survive and flourish,” Bob Craig, founder of The Keystone Center, said in a written statement. “I and the staff of both organizations are very committed to preserving the important legacy we have built together over the past 38 years. It is urgent that we take action now to do so.”

Though the school will no longer be a part of The Keystone Center, that doesn’t mean the relationship is over, said Reid.

“Having worked together in tandem for nearly 40 years, we would love to continue to explore mutually beneficial ways to work with The Keystone Center wherever our missions intersect,” Reid stated in an email.

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