Academy fundraising effort intensifies

Trust trying to raise $5M for purchase by end of May

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

How to contribute

The Fort Vancouver National Trust needs $16 million to buy and restore The Academy. To contribute, visit Academy Campaign or call 360-992-1800.

A fundraising effort to preserve Vancouver's historic Academy building and grounds is being multiplied in the final two months of a yearlong campaign to raise the first $5 million needed for the purchase.

Launched this month, the "PSquared" program is a new phase of the overall effort to include citizens, business and community leaders in the push to raise the $5 million by the end of May. That money is the Fort Vancouver National Trust's first step toward raising $10.6 million over five years to buy the Academy, several smaller buildings and the 7-acre property.

The nonprofit has set a longer-term goal of raising $16 million in total to buy and restore the 140-year-old former Catholic school, 400 E. Evergreen Blvd.

Organizers of the PSquared effort chose 50 leaders and asked each of them to find 40 donors willing to contribute $100 each for a potential $200,000 total. Vancouver-based Columbia Credit Union has also said it will match up to $100,000 of the donation, giving everyone the chance to double their contribution.

The property has been owned since 1969 by brothers Monte, Bill and Oliver Hidden, descendants of the Vancouver family that supplied the bricks for the Colonial-style structure, said to be one of Washington state's most historically significant.

As the 1873 home of Pacific Northwest pioneer Mother Joseph and the Sisters of Providence, the Academy's historic relevance interested the trust's extensive board of preservationists. The trust also has said it views the site as a natural westward progression of its work to restore and maintain the city-owned nineteenth-century West Barracks' buildings and stately Officers Row mansions that are part of the Fort Vancouver National Site. The Academy site is just across Interstate 5 from the historic site.

The trust's major efforts to secure the initial $5 million include the sale of naming rights for the Academy's bell tower for $1 million. Renton-based nonprofit hospital system Providence Health and Services is pursuing that purchase by offering fundraising opportunities to employees of the organization, which also is tied to Mother Joseph. PSquared is a potential $200,000 fundraiser; community philanthropist Ed Lynch has pledged $2 million.

"There are multiple strategies in place to make sure we have a stable revenue stream to get to the purchase price," Alishia Topper, senior director

of development for the trust, said while admitting that she is getting anxious as the days tick down to the campaign deadline.

Once they have raised the initial $5 million, campaigners will have to show that pledges from the nonprofit's largest donors are already in place to make up the remaining $5.6 million.

"We'll have to have (the money) lined up to come in over a five-year period," Topper said. She explained that some donors can't write a $250,000 check all at once but choose instead to donate $50,000 per year.