The Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community Foundations have pledged gifts totaling $6.6 million to Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham for endowment and project planning.
Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham, which will serve Richmond County and the surrounding regions, will be the second Discovery Place KIDS museum, following last weekend’s successful opening of Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville outside of Charlotte. Discovery Place KIDS museums offer creative learning experiences that aid in the development of essential childhood skills by encouraging curiosity, discovery and fun.
A feasibility study conducted with local and regional leaders and community members indicated an overwhelmingly positive response to the proposed museum, but indicated the crucial need for an endowment to prove long-term sustainability.
“Discovery Place Inc. is charting new ground by entering a Tier 1 community,” said Neal Cadieu, a Cole Foundation board member.
The Foundation For The Carolinas subsequently linked Discovery Place Inc. with the Cole and Richmond Community Foundations. Based upon the findings of the feasibility study, Discovery Place Inc. requested funding from the foundations to support project planning costs and an endowment for long-term sustainability of the museum.
The total cost of the project has yet to be disclosed.
The endowment will help support ongoing operations, exhibit maintenance and replacement, and subsidize an outreach for underserved populations.
“We were overwhelmed by the opportunity to invest in the children and future of our community,” Cadieu said. “Our gift will primarily help provide long-term sustainability for Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham. We now look forward to working with other leaders whose generosity will help to build the facility.”
“The Richmond Community Foundation supports projects that enhance the well-being of our community,” said Roger Stanley, vice chair of the Richmond Community Foundation board. “Having a resource such as Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham is rare for a rural community. Our hope is that this endeavor becomes a reality; if not, we will have missed a great educational opportunity that will build confidence, self esteem and character for our young people.”
Funds raised from the newly-launched capital campaign will be used for the acquisition and up-fit of the museum building as well as exhibition design and fabrication. The proposed building for the museum is the old McKenzie furniture building on East Washington Street in downtown Rockingham.
The phased development of the project will be contingent upon fundraising progress. A firm campaign goal will be released in the coming months once the scope of the project has been determined.
“Our primary focus as we move forward will be securing leadership gifts for Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham,” said John Mackay, president and CEO, Discovery Place. “These commitments along with funding from the community are the vital building blocks that will help us actually create the museum. Eventually we will seek support from the extended community, including civic organizations, religious groups and schools.”
“This demonstrates the commitment by the two foundations, not only to Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham, but to Richmond County,” said Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin. He sees this campaign and the commitment of the foundations as encouragement for others to step forward.
Though no official date has been announced for the opening of Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham, the museum could potentially open as early as late 2012.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.