Coastal Bays Nears Endowment Fund

SNOW HILL – With another $15,000, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) can create a $1 million endowment fund.

The program has three weeks left to raise the remaining $15,000 required by an anonymous donor for a two-to-one match that will yield another half million dollars in endowment funds.

The unidentified donor started off giving MCBP $500,000 for an endowment fund, no conditions attached last winter, then dangled another half a million in front of the program, if it could raise $250,000 on its own.

As of this week, fundraising efforts have met 94 percent of that goal, but the full $500,000 in endowment funds will not be secured without that last $15,000 by Dec. 15.

“We’re almost there. We only have $15,000 more to raise and it looks very, very good,” Development Director Evelina Erickson said. “With how supportive this community has been we’re going to reach it, and hopefully we’re going to pass it.”

Every dollar raised will be matched, said Erickson, whether the goal is reached or not.

All money has been raised in the community, donated by individuals and private groups.

“The community’s been extremely supportive. A lot of people confuse us with a government agency because a lot of our funding comes from government sources,” Erickson said.

Government funding is uncertain, said Erickson, which is why the program made the switch.

“We’ve been doing most of our fundraising in the community for the last two years,” she said.

The donor challenged the program to raise funds privately to encourage MCBP’s switch to community support.

Another reason for the challenge was to give back to the community through a revitalized environmental education program.

“We are working this year to reinvigorate our environmental education program,” Erickson said. “One of the goals of the donor was to help make that happen.”

In 2004, MCBP had to discontinue its education efforts for lack of funding. The more environmental education you have in a community, the more people are made aware of clean water and healthy bays, she said.

“This is a major need. It’s so vital,” Erickson said. “Every child needs to be given the opportunity to connect with nature. Our goal is to give kids the opportunity to get their hands dirty and their feet wet.”