What is the length of time that the Capital Campaign will last?
The 2016 Capital Campaign will last through the end of 2016. We fully expect to launch a very similar campaign in early 2017 which will run through the end of that year. In November of 2017, we will evaluate our progress and the need to continue concerted, internal capital fundraising. Barring ridiculous and unexpected delays, the gym project should be well underway if not complete by then. We believe that this will have a profound impact on our ability to attract donations, but we have no way of knowing how it will affect the need for internal capital fundraising. We look forward to the discovery.
How has the land been paid for up until now without any Capital Campaign?
MDCS has made 2 major land acquisitions. The first came about after a chance encounter one of our founders, Katy Travitz, had at the Gateway Flea Market with Gail Cooper (who was running the register at the time).
Gail (to Katy as she was checking out): “Need anything else?”
Katy: “Not unless you have anything for a charter school we’re starting in Bryson City?”
Gail: “As a matter of fact, my husband has 11 acres of land that he wants to be used for a special purpose.”
That conversation lead to negotiations with Steve Cooper, who donated 25% of the purchase price and financed the rest on terms that a start-up on a shoestring budget could meet.
The second land acquisition (the 9.75 acres on which we’ll build the new school) was funded by a combination of donations from individuals and foundations totaling over $250,000. It is only through the generosity of these donors that we are able to start further capital development at this time.
How have the buildings been paid for up until now without any Capital Campaign?
The buildings were purchased on a lease to own basis from Modular Technologies in Kinston, NC. The 10-year deal was structured in way that allowed us to service the debt out of the regular operating budget.
How have the buses been paid for up until now without any Capital Campaign?
One of our buses was purchased outright by the school while the second bus was funded largely by parents-The Ugly Bus Retirement Fund Drive took place in the fall of 2012.
Why hasn’t the school asked us for money before now?
We did ask for money for the bus.
We have not started a capital campaign until now because we needed to acquire land on which to site the new buildings and pay down our debt (all debt retired in July of 2014). The bulk of the “capital effort” during the 2014-15 school year was been spent forging a partnership with Swain County, which is still an ongoing process (we can publish more details on this as we firm things up). The reason we are asking parents for money at this time is because we have to in order to strengthen our case to larger donors. Several foundation executives, many of whom represent foundations that could easily fund the entire project, have indicated that grantors typically look for a level of commitment from the community to which they might contribute. One of them said that her foundation makes grant awards “based on the character of the community”. Another said that the first thing a potential grantor is going to ask is, “What is your community giving to this project?”
“It” works a lot like it does between individuals. Who wants to do something for someone who is not willing to make an effort on his own behalf, especially when he is very capable of helping himself?
What are the chances of pulling this off?
If we ALL work at it, our chances are very good. But the other option is certain- if we don’t try the odds of success are zero.
What’s wrong with just getting more trailers when these are no longer usable?
- The collected single classroom buildings would have a much larger footprint, leaving less room for outdoor space.
- Less opportunity to “collect” additions to the physical plant, like the roofs over the deck and the concrete slab.
- It is hard to teach sustainability in a “disposable,” inefficient physical plant with the carbon footprint of a brontosaurus.
- We would have no opportunity to use the buildings as an energy conservation laboratory.
- From a business plan standpoint, it is tenuous at best for an organization to be required to completely rebuild its physical plant every 20-25 years.