In a message today from Ohio Conference president Ron Halverson, Jr., news came that efforts to save Mt. Vernon Academy from closure fell short. In a special constituency session on January 11, Ohio Conference constituents voted to give the beleaguered boarding academy an ultimatum: raise $3 million by March 10, or begin taking steps to cease operations. Today served as a preliminary deadline, after which conference leadership would assess the school's progress.
Writing on the Ohio Conference website, and Faithpoints, the conference news bulletin, President Halverson stated that to date, only $17,069 came in to the conference.
An online fundraiser through the Faith Partners crowdfunding site created by Allegheny East Youth Director Patrick Graham originally set out to raise the entire $3 million needed to keep Mt. Vernon afloat. After only a handful of donations trickled in through the site, the campaign was changed to $1.5 million by today's date. As of press time, the effort only attracted seven donors, who gave a total of $970.
Mt. Vernon Academy students used social media to push their own fundraising campaign called #DoSomething MVA. The most-watched YouTube video in the campaign by MVA senior Alyssa Thompson was viewed over 900 times, but the #DoSomething campaign ultimately failed to garner the needed money.
In his memo to constituents, Halverson wrote,
We had the monumental task of raising $3 million dollars in a short time. Unfortunately, despite the earnest efforts of many students, families, alumni, and supporters of Mount Vernon Academy, I’m sorry to report that we did not receive enough funds to meet the first benchmark.
You will recall that after considerable study and research the Blue Ribbon Committee, MVA Board of Trustees, Ohio Conference Executive Committee and the delegates at the January 11 Special Constituency Meeting voted a process which called for $1.5 million to be raised by February 10, and another $1.5 million by March 10. This amount would have enabled MVA to remain operational next school year. Since we fell immeasurably short of the first financial deadline, MVA will have to cease operations at the end of this school year.
Halverson noted that conference leaders are "committed to seeing this school year through and hope you will join us in supporting the MVA family during Alumni Weekend (April 24-26) and Graduation (May 22-24)."
The conference will now create two committees. The first will search for ways of providing Adventist education to the academy-aged students in the Ohio Conference. The second will oversee the MVA property until the close of this school year.
Halverson went on to say that funds raised to date and funds given in the future will go to constituent students wishing to pursue Adventist secondary education.
"Secondary education will continue to be a part of the big picture for ministry in Ohio, but we will have to do it differently," Halverson said. "Though there are fewer school-aged students in our Ohio families, we want to see more of them receive an Adventist education. In order to make this a reality, we will look to collaborate with more of our ministries to create avenues of support for secondary education."
Jared Wright is managing editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.