Vernonia School District: Catalyst campaign

Two 500-year floods in 11 years ravaged the historic logging town of Vernonia, Oregon. The 2007 flood filled all of the school buildings with tainted water from the nearby sewage facility. Students were displaced into nearby minimally repaired buildings and old modular classrooms. With all of its schools in the new federally designated floodplain, the cost to repair and insure these schools against future floods is prohibitively expensive and imprudent—leaving Vernonia in the unprecedented position of having to rebuild a complete kindergarten through 12th grade school district all at one time. Metropolitan Group was hired in 2009 for a four year campaign to work with the Vernonia School District and the Vernonia Education Foundation designing and implementing a campaign to raise $40 million in state, federal and philanthropic resources to rebuild these schools and create a community center and economic catalyst that will support Vernonia’s future. The project centered on rural sustainability creating a LEED platinum campus and integrating environmental services and natural resources sustainability across the curriculum.

Metropolitan Group worked closely with the Vernonia School District and an Oregon Solutions public/private committee of volunteers to develop a four-year fundraising plan to support the construction of an innovative new K-12 school and community center located high above the floodplain. MG developed a resource development framework that included strategies and recommendations related to infrastructure, financing, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. MG then developed a case for support and produced a suite of campaign materials (brochure, stationery, website and video). MG provided communication support to the final passage of a $13 million local bond measure. MG built a powerful campaign committee and worked with these business and public sector leaders to raise an additional $27 million in funding and financing from philanthropic and public funding sources.