Phillips Fundamental Learning Center’s campaign, Transforming Education Through Literacy, provided funding for a new, 38,000-square-foot, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired building, increased capacity and expanded program services to advance the nonprofit’s mission.
PFLC, located in Wichita, Kan., empowers children, especially those with dyslexia, by teaching them to read, write and spell; educates adults by providing research-based literacy programs for children; and enlightens parents and the broader community to the educational and health needs of their children.
Reading is basic and critical, but the process of learning to read isn’t the same for everyone: one in five children struggle to read. Dyslexia, the most common reading disorder, can significantly hinder reading, writing, spelling, speaking, the development of vocabulary, and the understanding of spoken language. At the same time, those with dyslexia can be highly creative and innovative.
In fact, due the unique imagination and creativity of individuals with dyslexia, PFLC believes it can also be viewed as a “super power.”
The nonprofit’s previous building allowed for a limited number of students to be served. The new building doubles their capacity and provides space to train teachers, Certified Academic Language Therapists, reading specialists and tutors who work with struggling readers. PFLC raised an initial $10 million during its two-year, silent phase before launching the campaign publicly. This established a strong base for the many major gifts to follow. A $2-million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation created excitement and momentum for the new state-of-the-art teaching laboratory school. In order to receive the gift, the Mabee Foundation challenged PFLC to fulfill a goal of $5.8 million.
A $1-million gift was given by Dee Rolph, who helped start the Rolph Literacy Academy at PFLC, in memory of her late husband, Darrel. Darrel was a successful businessman despite living with dyslexia. “I really wanted to leave a legacy for him,” said Rolph. “He would be very happy and excited to see that we’re providing something for these kids to be able to learn in such a different environment.”
A $1.5-million gift from the Dwayne L. and Velma Lunt Wallace Foundation, also helped move PLFC significantly toward reaching its Mabee challenge.
Said Executive Director Jeanine Phillips—who co-founded the organization with Gretchen Andeel, “The building will contain multiple wings to house the Andeel Teacher Literacy Institute, the Darrel and Dee Rolph Literacy Academy, administrative offices, a courtyard and outdoor terrace and a place to host events.”
Children with dyslexia, the most common reading disorder, can significantly hinder reading, writing, spelling, speaking, the development of vocabulary, and the understanding of spoken language, yet they can be highly creative and innovative.
The IA O’Shaughnessy Foundation, a Minnesota-based foundation that supports education in underserved communities, donated a $1.5-million capstone gift to bring the campaign to its $20-million goal. But this was not the end of the story.
Due to the economic aftermath of lockdowns, as well as a number of other unpredictable world events including rising costs for steel, labor and other construction materials, actual expenses grew by over 36.1%. Adjustments were made by the building committee to reduce the initial costs by $2.2 million, but the campaign goal still needed to be stretched. Another $5 million was added to the goal to include additional support for technology, operations and scholarships for low-income students and teachers. When PFLC broke ground on its building, the challenge grant had already been met ahead of schedule.
Offered Phillips, “We couldn’t have done it without our consultants’ leadership. Our team has grown significantly with their guidance. We appreciate them taking us under their wings and guiding us successfully through the hills and valleys of this capital campaign.”
Phillips said that, through it all, when things got really tough, they just determined to follow the advice of their consultants: “You are going to think positively,” said Kinetic’s* President Karin Cox and Executive Vice President Janell Johnson. “You are going to move ahead.” They did, and it was a ground-breaking success.
*This campaign took place prior to Hartsook becoming Kinetic in 2022.