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Grace Church School

music roomWhen New York City’s Grace Church School, a vibrant Downtown pre-K through Grade 8 coed day school, wanted to build an on-site gym, restore its music room, and expand its performance and kindergarten space, it was challenged by widely differing cost estimates, from $7 - $12 million, and the need to reliably assess what it could raise.

At the start of the campaign planning study, it looked as if a site a block or two away would ultimately house the gym. After the multi-talented real estate committee did its due diligence, weighing cost and other factors, the school chose to build on-site and underground. The subterranean gymnasium would require digging deep. In Manhattan, that is neither simple nor inexpensive. All kinds of permits, including ones from Landmarks and the MTA, had to be secured, as the landmarked site was within 15 feet of a subway line.

gymMeanwhile, Raybin Associates conducted 41 interviews with more than 70 members of the School community. The campaign planning study came quickly on the heels of a quiet $3 million endowment effort. Study participants cautioned that “this is a downtown school. We don’t have the money you find uptown.” Not only did we learn that the endowment donors would gladly give again, we also heard of potential gifts larger than the School had thought possible. Happy constituents said that they would stretch to help Grace Church School raise $15 million.

Now the campaign total stands at $19.3 million, exceeding even our suggested ambitious goal. The new gym, which cost every penny of the high-end estimate, is in constant use by students and other neighborhood groups. It is a handsome huge success. The former gym is now performance space and adjacent to it is the big, bright, and cheerful new kindergarten space. The campaign also raised funds for program development, technology infrastructure and endowment.

Enthusiastic and energetic parents took the lead as solicitors and donors. Head of School George Davison never missed a beat asking for gifts. The small, but remarkably efficient, Development Office kept on a steady course by Director Joyce Kuh, ensured that everyone and everything ran smoothly. And the printed materials perfectly captured and communicated the vibrant spirit of the School.

Joyce Kuh remarked:

“Grace Church School had never attempted to raise funds of such magnitude as this campaign required. The Raybin team advised and steered us from day one, and in doing so, gave our community confidence that we could succeed.”