The Sunderland Foundation has pledged a $1.1 million donation over two years to Truman State University for the Greenwood project, which will likely be used as a match amount to get more funding from the state.
The Kansas City-based foundation has donated $600,000 already, but will give Truman the remaining $500,000 next year. The Sunderland Foundation provides grants and funding for construction and special interest projects to typically well-established, non-profit organizations.
This is the biggest private donation for construction on the Greenwood project Truman has received since the project started.
In 2016, Truman began the project of turning the old Greenwood elementary building into a regional autism therapy and diagnostic center where Truman students could work alongside professionals in diagnosing and serving patients. These plans have been continuously pushed back as state funding for the project has been withheld and decreased.
Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said the University is planning to use the donation from the Sunderland Foundation as a local match to show community support for the project and try to get more funding from the state.
“The state of Missouri — particularly the governor — really likes projects that have a local match or some kind of outside money,” Rector said. “Particularly they like to see outside funding as opposed to the institution saving up money and saying, ‘Here’s a match.’ They really like to see other people supporting it.”
So far, Truman has received a total of just over $2 million from the state of Missouri for Greenwood. Rector said the University is preparing to ask for an additional $4.4 million for the project for fiscal year 2021.
“One hope is with this match the governor and others will look favorably on it,” Rector said.
In total, the Greenwood project is expected to cost $7.6 million, but Rector said that cost can rise because of inflation and reworking designs as time passes.
In addition, Truman is now working with partners to complete the project, including the Northeast Missouri Health Council and Adair County SB40 Developmental Disability Board.
Ernie Hughes, vice president for university advancement, said the University was looking for funders who support construction projects in particular and would be interested in helping fund the Greenwood project. He said his office conducted research and looked for patterns in the projects the Sunderland Foundation has chosen to support in the past. Despite being on the outskirts of their typical funding region, Hughes and University President Sue Thomas met with the foundation’s CEO to talk about Greenwood and the project’s mission.
“All meetings are different,” Hughes said. “It kind of goes back to the story about who you are, what you represent and the impact that you want to have on the community, for one, but most importantly the students.”
The $1.1 million figure was formed by assessing the project cost and looking at how much the foundation has previously given to other projects. Hughes said most foundations won’t grant more than 30% of a project’s total cost, so they tried to find a good balance.
Hughes said he submitted the application in April and received a letter back just a few weeks ago confirming the donation.
Hughes said he thinks this donation will help move the project along and secure more funding in the future. He said there are plans to keep looking for support from a variety of donors, but could not give specific names because they are not definite.
“We’re in talks now to do something large — more of a campaign for Greenwood,” Hughes said. “The key is to energize individuals, corporations and foundations to support the project, along with the funding we get from the state.”
In the meantime, Rector said Truman will likely use the $1.15 million it received from the state this year to complete some site development and infrastructure work next spring.