Wakefield School is excited to announce its selection to receive a $100,000 matching grant from The Edward E. Ford Foundation in support of its renovation of the campus’s former Lower School gym into The George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Theater & Auditorium.
According to its website, The E.E. Ford Foundation seeks to improve secondary education by supporting U.S. independent schools and encouraging promising practices. The Foundation makes a limited number of Traditional Grants each year to eligible schools and Associations to help them grow and develop in pursuit of their own missions. Wakefield School was one of only 13 schools nationwide to receive one of the Foundation’s 2021 Traditional Grants.
“The E.E. Ford Traditional Grants are needs-based, but selection is less about the specific project than about the school itself,” says Wakefield’s Head of School Ashley Harper. “The Foundation Board’s first consideration is, ‘Is this school worthy of investment?’ If so, then they want to fund what that school thinks it needs to move its mission forward.”
In addition to the school’s submitted grant proposal, the Foundation also weighs a campus visit, done virtually this year, during which the Foundation’s executive director, John Gulla, tours the candidate school’s campus, attends classes, meets with both students and faculty, and discusses with administrators and Board members the importance of the specific project the school seeks to fund.
In reporting back to Wakefield on his impressions from his visit, Gulla commented on the “happiness, excitement, and pride” the many constituents had for Wakefield, which was “both apparent and consistent” across his meetings. In notifying Harper of Wakefield’s selection to receive the grant, Gulla cited both the strong support of the school’s Board and the overall upward trajectory of the school as contributing factors to Wakefield’s selection to receive the matching grant.
“Wakefield School is truly humbled to have been chosen for the E.E. Ford grant,” says Harper. “The powerful message of support from the Foundation Board means so much to us all, both for this project and for the long-term trajectory of the school.” And, she adds, “The space this grant is funding is not just a new facility–it is central to our mission, and we need it. The Foundation Board completely got why this was the case.”
According to Wakefield’s Director of Development and long-time theater advocate Ann-Charlotte Robinson, “The George Ohrstrom Theater is a dream come true for us at Wakefield. Over the last two decades, I’ve watched our theater program mature and seen so many talented students and faculty bring ever more challenging and interesting productions to life–in a gym. This is a perfect facility to honor their work. To provide a theater for our community while also retaining an improved space for many other community gatherings is an extraordinary achievement.”
She adds, “The pursuit of a match for this very generous grant will also allow us to highlight the importance to Wakefield’s long-term stability and development of a collaboration with a highly respected, national foundation. I think it will be very attractive to our community to meet this challenge with donations of all sizes, knowing that each gift will be doubled through the match.”