The Ecology School in Saco is in the final stretch of its fundraising campaign. Ribbon cutting is now scheduled for Earth Day, April 22. Courtesy photo/Tim Greenway, The Ecology School

SACO — The Ecology School  has raised $13.5 million toward its $14.1 million fundraising goal and it plans to cut the ribbon on Earth Day.

When completed, River Bend Farm will be one of the greenest environmental residential learning centers in the country, according to a school press release. With a 9,000 square-foot dormitory, 7,000 square-foot dining area, and 718 solar panels, which will create 105 percent net positive energy. The property is substantial in size and vision and represents the latest example of Maine’s — and the nation’s — progress toward a carbon neutral future.

“The new Ecology School campus is unlike anything that Maine has seen,” said Drew Dumsch, president/CEO and co-founder of The Ecology School. “It will be entirely self-sufficient and will provide a living and breathing example of what a sustainable future might look like.”

Despite an unprecedented year amidst a global pandemic, the construction team and staff at The Ecology School have managed to increase their momentum, stay safe, and realize substantial fundraising wins.

The latest major gifts in support of the project include:

• $25,000 from Bernstein Shur, in support of the School Nurse Station & Office, which oversees the health and wellness needs of over 4,000 residential students a year.
• $75,000 from Bangor Savings Bank, in support of the school’s Eastern Pathway, which will be landscaped with educationally significant trees and shrubs and will connect the dormitory to 3.5 miles of on-site conservation trails.
• $25,000 from Central Maine Power
• $25,000 from Hancock Lumber
• $20,000 from Efficiency Maine
• $5,000 from ReVision Energy
This is in addition to $500,000 from Poland Spring last May, in support of the Poland Spring Education and Dining Commons.

The latest gifts propel the school to a new high, with $13.5 MM raised, $600,000 remaining, and only a few months of construction left.

“We are deeply grateful for our supporters across the country and here in Maine,” said Dumsch. “We believe The Ecology School is not only beautiful, but it offers a striking example of how institutions can combine the most cutting-edge technology on a working rural landscape, integrating buildings from the 18th century, sustainable living, agroecology, and elegant green design and construction.”

Supporters of The Ecology School include the Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust, Jane’s Trust, and Quimby Family Foundation, Saco & Biddeford Savings, among others. In 2019, The Ecology School was awarded an $8.66 million loan from the USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Direct Loan and Guaranteed Loans program, the largest community facilities loan granted to an educational facility in Maine within the past decade. In addition, CEI provided $1.75 million in long-term financing.

Upon completion, The Ecology School will become the most sustainable building in the Northeast, according to the release. Learn more at TheEcologySchool.org and follow The Ecology School on Facebook @EcologySchool, Instagram @TheEcologySchool and Twitter @ecologyschoolME.

filed under: