This is an inspiring and impressive moment for Meridian – strategically advancing its priorities, moving it to a new level of financial stability and philanthropic maturity, and building its hands-on, place-based program and learning opportunities for current students and future families.
—Tracy Bennett, Interim Head of School
The Meridian School has embarked on a new and exciting venture to expand our program and enrich our curriculum through the acquisition and renovation of the Corliss House.
Meridian’s current Strategic Plan put forth its first goal to “secure sufficient, safe, and flexible space.” To that end, Meridian purchased the Corliss House, immediately adjacent to the Good Shepherd Center, in November 2019. This property, located just steps from the South Annex, provided us critical space and flexibility beyond what we have in our current building.
Adding a prekindergarten program on the first floor will extend our exceptional program and accomplish several goals. We are designing Corliss to be a warm and nurturing learning environment for our future youngest students, retaining the period design elements of a 100-year-old residence with modern systems and features. The renovated space will provide ample room for students to learn, while integrating classroom learning in expanded garden areas. And, of course, the nearly seven-acre park next door will offer an urban oasis for our youngest students and an extraordinary outdoor classroom for our teachers.
Working closely with architect Anjali Grant, our goal is to achieve a high level of resource efficiency, reduce our impact on the environment, and provide a healthy and comfortable learning space for our children.
Extending our educational opportunities will align our offering with those of our peer schools, which will expand our outreach and pipeline for new student recruitment and generate additional revenue to cover operating expenses. Most importantly, we can better serve our families by offering an opportunity for younger siblings to begin their Meridian journey even earlier.
Meridian has long been challenged by the space limitations inherent in an urban, historic location. Adding administrative spaces on the second floor of Corliss will free up over 700 square feet of valuable space for student learning in the Good Shepherd Center building. We will also have the opportunity to leverage larger spaces for much-needed group meeting areas.
By incorporating elements of sustainable, locally sourced materials and green features into the design, the Corliss House becomes an exciting teaching tool and a visual demonstration of our commitment to sustainability. Given Meridian’s goal of educating our students about responsible global citizenship and environmental stewardship, Corliss will be leveraged as a teaching tool that integrates into our science curriculum. It will provide the foundation – literally – for teaching students about the importance of sustainable practices, and will offer new relevant, hands-on learning opportunities for students at all grade levels.
For example, being intentional about which plants we add to the landscape will provide learning opportunities for several science units spanning all grade levels. These units include plant life cycles, biomimicry, pollination, ecosystems, and adaptations. We will also be able to create a model for urban landscapes that benefit both nature and humans. Visibility and data from the roof’s solar zone will provide a lesson on renewable energy and carbon footprint. Our responsible selection of materials will promote students’ understanding of cradle-to-cradle materials. While educating children about the interdependent nature of our world is not new at Meridian, our teachers are excited to integrate these lessons into the curriculum at all grade levels.
It is very exciting to thoughtfully design this space and create something that is beneficial not only to our students, but also our community and environment.
—Kelsey Vollmer, Science Program Manager
Architect Anjali Grant is working closely with the school as we move through the various permitting and design phases. Our project timeline is as follows:
January 2022: Board Formally Approved Project
March 2022: Contractor Selection
May–June 2022: Groundbreaking/Renovation of Corliss
February 2023: Completion of Construction
May 2023: Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) Licensing
July 2023: Move-In and Preparation
September 2023: Opening of Corliss House for the First Pre-K Class
The Meridian School is truly at an inspiring and pivotal moment with this project, our first property and capital initiative. To make this project possible, we are setting our sights on raising one-third of the project budget – $750,000 – in philanthropy.
As of June 3, we have raised $647,000, 86% of our goal. Thank you to current and alumni families, including the 100% of our trustees, who have made early commitments to kickstart this effort. We are thrilled about the enthusiasm for our vision and support for this project.
This initiative will only be possible with our full community’s support. Our hope is that everyone who believes in a Meridian education will consider a special, one-time philanthropic commitment. It will take a collective effort from our current families, alumni families, and members of our community like grandparents to support this once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand and enhance our program.
To learn how to support this initiative, please review the following information:
As a current family, is there anything else we need to know before making our commitment?
Each family will receive a letter in the mail the week of May 2 from Tracy asking them to consider a commitment to support the Corliss House. We will also include a project overview, FAQs, and a commitment form. We ask that each family wait to make their commitment until receiving the letter.
Can I pledge a gift over a period of time?
A pledge can be spread over a two-year period. By spreading your pledge out over time, you have the flexibility to plan for your financial commitment. You can make quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payments toward your commitment. All Corliss House pledge payments are due by June 1, 2024. We ask you to contact Lauren Collette, Director of Development, to indicate a pledge and complete the commitment form enclosed with your letter from Tracy.
How do I donate and make a gift?
We accept your gift in the form of:
Can we invite extended family to contribute so that our gift or pledge is a larger contribution?
Some families have already contributed a “family gift.” For example, a current family may decide to make a contribution and ask their student’s grandparents if they would like to also make a commitment. The combined gift is made as a family gift to support the youngest generation in their family. If you believe someone else in your family would have interest in supporting the Corliss House, please share this campaign with them.
Can we submit a matching gift through a company as we would for the Monarch Fund?
Yes! Matching gifts count toward your family’s contribution and are a wonderful way to leverage your gift. Ask your organization’s HR department how they match gifts, and, for tracking purposes, please let the Development Office know if you have submitted a match.
Will supporters (and donation amounts) be publicly acknowledged?
Yes! Donors at all giving levels will be recognized, but specific gift amounts will not be listed. Supporters will be listed in the Annual Report, in newsletters, and on our website.
Are donations tax deductible?
Yes! The Meridian School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, qualifying for tax deductions to the fullest extent of the law. Meridian will send a receipt which can be used for tax purposes to all donors.
Who do I talk to if I have questions?
Lauren Collette, Director of Development, 206-805-6711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.