Major Gift Initiatives

Major gift initiatives at Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool fund specific projects that enhance the student experience. Through the generosity of donors who have the capacity and affinity to make a major gift, projects are completed without the use of tuition or operating dollars. This major giving program focuses on building relationships with constituents of the school such as families, both past and present, grandparents, alumni and friends to help accomplish goals aligned with the school’s strategic plan.

Jim Heus Field Turf Renovation

The Heus Field, named after Jim Heus, the Academy’s first head of school, was renovated in the summer of 2020 following a major gifts effort. Originally built in 2004, the turf had long surpassed its 10-year life expectancy, and when Head of School Tom Main joined Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool in 2018 he identified a need to resurface the aging turf field.

After receiving approval from the Board of Trustees and presenting the opportunity to the community, a plan was in place to complete the project within a year. Work on the field began during the summer of 2020 and was finished in time for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Today a newly-resurfaced field, filled with environmentally-responsible, acrylic-coated sand, provides a state-of-the-art athletic area for the community. The $420,000 project was solely funded by restricted gifts from eight generous donors, and has brought much joy to the students who use this field daily. As an expression of gratitude, those donors were invited to enjoy a small, physically-distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony in the center of the field in the fall of 2020, with remarks from the Head of School Tom Main and 2020-2021 Board Chair Rachel Sondheimer.

Outdoor Campus Center & Playspace

In the fall of 2019, Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool began considering the significant maintenance needs of the Lower School Playground. The process created an ideal opportunity to consider the purpose, location, and impact the space had on the Ridgefield campus. Within this context, it became clear that relocating this important landmark to the center of campus provided the most impactful solution for RA/LP. With Board approval, a committee was formed to move the project along and fundraising for this initiative began.

The planning committee carefully managed the scope of the project, including a competitive bidding process, while donors were simultaneously being approached to support. Careful considerations about the natural landscape, playground equipment, and accessibility helped secure all the necessary approvals from the Town of Ridgefield. Construction began on the last day of the 2020 school year and was completed on time for the first day of school, taking only three months.

With extraordinary donor generosity, this stunning Outdoor Campus Center was completed within the $1.1 million budget. No tuition or operating dollars were used thanks to the support of 23 donors; the top three gifts of $500,000, $250,000 and $200,000 helped secure funding for this initiative in only 18 months. A reception was held for the donors and their children in the Outdoor Campus Center during the fall of 2021. This small event was a chance to say “thank you,” it included a sparkling cider toast and a tour by Head of Preschool and Lower School Alison O’Callaghan.