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The Schaberg Foundation Offers Challenge Grant to Complete River Education Center

Foundation’s $400,000 commitment will serve as a catalyst to raise necessary funds to reach $9 million goal for the James A. Buzzard River Education Center.

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Last May, the James River Association (JRA) broke ground on the James A. Buzzard River Education Center, which will serve as an environmental landmark on Richmond’s historic riverfront.

Located off Dock Street adjacent to Great Shiplock Park, construction has been steadily underway since the initial groundbreaking. The Center will provide a new hub for river-based education, connecting students and the region with the river and advancing JRA’s vision of a fully healthy James supporting thriving communities.

As part of their $25 million James Changer Campaign, JRA reached their initial fundraising goal of $7 million set for the project in 2022, allowing the Center to move forward. This included the purchase of 0.85 acres of the now preserved 5-acre Dock Street site and the completion of extensive planning and development.

While the Center is expected to open this summer, due to the rise in construction costs, the budget to complete the project increased to $9 million. Thanks to the support of donors, JRA raised an additional $1.2 million by the end of 2023, but still shy of the $9 million goal.

In December of 2023, JRA received tremendous news from the Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Foundation that they will provide a $400,000 challenge grant to encourage other supporters to donate toward the completion of the Center. The foundation shares JRA’s goal to ensure that every child growing up in Outside magazine’s “Best River Town” gets introduced to the James River and enjoys the many benefits that the river provides.

“We are pleased to report that the James A. Buzzard River Education Center is moving forward on schedule,” said Bill Street, President and CEO for JRA. “Because of the Schaberg Foundation’s remarkable gift, and the support we hope it inspires within our community, we can now envision the completion of this exciting project that will provide river access and transformative experiences for students in the region.”

Thanks to the Schaberg Foundation’s generous commitment, every dollar donated to the Center will be matched until the $9 million goal has been reached. To learn more about the challenge and how to support the Center, please visit https://www.jameschanger.org/donate.html.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.