Learning center

Phillips Fundamental Learning Center receives $ 1.5 million grant

While it looks like a pandemic can be a tough time to raise funds, the Phillips Fundamental Learning Center raised an additional $ 1.5 million in its fundraising campaign for a new east side campus. Yet, this is not all good news, and the pandemic is to blame.

First of all, the good news:

The IA O’Shaughnessy Foundation, a Minnesota-based foundation that supports education in underprivileged communities, has donated $ 1.5 million that complements the $ 20 million fundraising campaign for the new Fundamental Learning Center campus at the corner 143rd northeast and Central with a design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The center teaches dyslexic children and their educators. In an emailed statement, the foundation called the center “a source of hope and help for so many young people both in the local Wichita community and, through its teacher training program, to across the country “.

Now the bad news:

Rising construction costs and supply chain issues are forcing the center to raise an additional $ 1.5 million to cover surpluses.

Co-founder and Executive Director Jeanine Phillips was stunned and demoralized to hear the news.

“I’ll tell you, this COVID story, it was the most difficult year of my life,” she said.

“I was devastated when we sat down and heard how much our original material offerings had increased,” Phillips said. “I felt like I had used every ounce of energy.”

She said her fundraising team has been amazing and is starting over with a second $ 4 million fundraising campaign.

This includes $ 1.5 million for construction costs; $ 1 million in scholarships for teachers and students; $ 500,000 for operations; and $ 1 million for an improved outdoor play and learning space.

“We felt like we needed something exciting. . . to encourage new donors, ”Phillips said of the outdoor space.

She said she didn’t know when construction on the new campus would begin.

“We decided to shoot the bullet and order steel. “

The 25 tonnes needed for construction are taking so long that they won’t be there until next summer.

Foundation work will start before that, so probably around May.

“So that’s still a bunch of ifs,” Phillips said.

Still, she said she didn’t want to diminish the impact of the O’Shaughnessy Foundation grant.

“This donation does not build our building, but it certainly brings us closer and closer to the start of construction on this building. “

This story was originally published October 21, 2021 2:45 pm.

Carrie Rengers has been a journalist for more than three decades, including almost 20 years with the Wichita Eagle. Sound did you hear? Business Scoop Column operates five days a week in The Eagle. If you have any advice, please email or tweet or call 316-268-6340.


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