Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to take a pause in our activities to assess what we’ve accomplished. As opposed to the cash donations, all of the valuable in-kind contributions to the Institute since its founding in 2000 have been challenging to quantify. For example, how much is a 5-year old, gently-used 700 gallon acrylic reef aquarium (pictured) really worth? Does an attorney’s pro bono work drafting a contract for our nonprofit have a dollar value based on how many hours he spent and what his normal hourly rate would be to a paying customer? What if a vendor never sends a bill? You get the idea.
Aletha, my wife and our board chair, and I took a recent afternoon and reviewed all that the Institute has now received from our community (and beyond) through March 2013 and came up with just over $5 million in cash and in-kind value. That is truly astounding!
Where has all this money and value gone?
- In has been leveraged to create, refine and deliver important educational outreach programs in our central San Joaquin Valley schools and in our community focused on aquatic habitats and our watershed.
- It’s been invested in our 10 acre property adjacent to State Highway 99 overlooking the San Joaquin River, donated to the Fresno Aquarium project in 2006 by the Roy and Betty Jura family in the form of paying for governmental fees and studies required to be able to build in the future.
- It is in the 12 major aquarium exhibits and numerous life support systems, quarantine tanks and other equipment donated to the Institute by the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, a part of the California Academy of Sciences, all of which are now being stored here in Fresno and Madera.
- It is in the plans created in 2009 – 2010 by Arthur Dyson, A.I.A., our marvelous architect, for our 20,000 square foot Phase One Fresno Aquarium designed to incorporate all 12 of the Steinhart exhibits in addition to two more we will build ourselves. Art’s original 100,000 square foot design has now become our Phase Two Aquarium, which will be constructed next to our Phase One facility after it is completed.
- It is in the value engineering work we undertook during 2010 – 2011 to separate the Phase One Aquarium itself into manageable sub-phases.
- It is in the 2012 completed engineered drawings, created by our structural engineer, Bob Parrish, P.E., for the Fresno Aquarium’s basement, which will contain the life support systems to serve the entire Aquarium, lab and quarantine tanks.
With this milestone, it’s natural for people to ask, “How much more do we need to raise?” In order to construct the life support basement, based on estimates we have received from several local contractors, we now estimate the Institute needs to raise $730,000 more to build this stand-alone Aquarium facility. The expansion areas above it will, of course, require more fundraising in the future.
Considering the Institute’s reaching of the $5 million raised milestone this month, we believe $730,000 more is achievable. To that end, we have launched a new campaign called From the Ground Up, where we are selling concrete blocks for $100 (regular) and $200 (large). Please donate to this campaign now by putting your name on a block (or several blocks!)
How long it will take to raise enough to begin construction on the Fresno Aquarium is totally dependent on the rate at which these blocks are sold. But in the meantime, we’re celebrating raising $5 million and we think that milestone is an accomplishment our entire community can be very proud of!