Help Save the First Free Kindergarten in the USA the Poppenhusen Institute
Our Goal of $50,000 is needed to remain true to our mission by keeping the “Doorway to Opportunity” open at the Poppenhusen Institute, and by continuing to provide free and minimal cost cultural, educational and historical programs and events to the people of Northern Queens, and the entire New York Metropolitan area.
The $50,000 in donations we hope to raise will be used to cover a short fall in our 2015 operating budget, due to the loss of NY State funding over the past 7 years. This $50,000 will go to paying a portion of our operational costs, such as the payment of staff, instructors, utilities, and the day to day maintenance costs that come with trying to maintain a large building built in 1868.
Good News: NY State has awarded us a one time grant for $100,000 to help us keep our doors open to the Public. This grant is to be used over a 2 year period for programming and general operations of this historical College Point architectural gem which operates today as a cultural and community center with a museum component.
Bad News: These funds aren’t expected to be received for possibly 6 to 9 months.
Therefore, we need your help now!
The Issue: Our average monthly operating expenditures come to $17,500 or $210,00o annually. This doesn’t even take into consideration unforeseen repairs, unplanned expenses or our investing in structural upgrades or improvements. As you can clearly see our goal of $50,000 basically covers are operational expense for a period of only 3 months.
Capital Improvements: In order to further reinforce just how much Public support we have received from our elected NYC officials over the past 10 years which includes winning a “Public Referendums” with overwhelming voter support, we have received over $5,000,000 in “Capital Funding”* from the City of New York for 2 major capital improvement projects. This is “Proof Positive” that any contributions you make to the Poppenhusen Institute will be a solid investment in the future of New York City and the preservation of New York City’s key role in the history of our Nation. Your contributions will not be money thrown away on a lost cause.
Current Capital Improvement Projects:
1. The installation of an elevator and handicapped accessible bathroom which will greatly improve Public access to the Institute and our 2nd floor Grand Ballroom.
2. A window and masonry restoration project which when completed will restore the Institute to its former grandeur and make it the place to go to for many different types of venues.
Just a quick clarification of the term ”Capital Funding”: These are capital improvement dollars that are awarded by the City of New York and are administered by the City of New York’s Department of Design and Construction.
Bottom line, not a single nickel of NYC ”Capital Funds” ever goes directly to a Non for Profit organization like ours, and therefore; neither we or any other Non for Profit organization in NYC ever receives so much as a single penny of the awarded ”Capital Funds”. Accordingly; neither we nor any other Non for Profit organization in NYC has access to “Taxpayer Dollars” earmarked for capital improvement projects. Subsequently; we cannot under any circumstance have access to, nor use”Capital Funding” to cover any of our organization’s “Operational Expenses”.
Hence, our need for your support in keeping the doors of this 1868 Italian Renaissance open to our community, which is a culturally diverse and under-served population that includes the decedents ofthe early German, Irish and Italian immigrates (some of who’s grandparents actually attended Kindergarten at the Poppenhusen Institute), and our newly arrived immigrates from Asia and Latin America; who just like the waves European immigrates that preceded them have found a connection to their new home and its history, here at the Institute. In fact, today many of our hard working volunteers come from newly arrived Asian and Hispanic families.
Hopefully; your donation will make it possible for us to continue serving the public for many years to come, and even make it possible for us to celebrate our 150th Anniversary in 2018.
Please note that we currently have plans in the works that should allow us to become self sufficient in the future. We currently earn a small amount income from renting space for personal events such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. however; our plan is to greatly increase our income from rentals beginning in 2016 when our 2 major capital projects are completed.
The first project is the installation of an elevator and handicapped accessible bathrooms which will greatly improve access to the Institute and our 2nd floor Grand Ballroom.
The second project is a window and masonry restoration which when completed will restore the Institute to its former grandeur and make it “the place to go” for many different types of venues.
These capital projects have been funded by former Councilman Tony Avella, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, the Mayor’s Office, the Queens Delegation and former Councilman Daniel Halloran.
Likewise; we have also earned a small amount of income as a local site for the filming of television shows and independent films, and we believe that this source of income will also increase this year as more and more Site Scouts are now learning about us.
Although we do have the opportunity for a bright future, it could all fall apart in the next 2 or 3 months if we don’t get a quick infusion of cash now.
Our Service to the Community as an Educational/Performing Art Center
The original charter of the Poppenhusen Institute (1868) specified that, “the Institute be open to all, irrespective of race or creed”. The goal then was to give people the opportunity to help themselves either by preparing them for a better job, or by improving their leisure time.
Here are just some of the things we do today to execute our mission and remain true to the original charter. We are non-profit educational/performing arts community center and museum providing Art classes for children and adults, Drama classes for children, Keyboard and guitar classes for children, and School Tours for a number of Queens’, NY Public and Private Schools, and we also hold Self Help Workshops for adults. All of these programs and events are open to the public at no charge, or at a minimal charge.
We also have a resident Theater Company, “E Phoenix Idealis Theater, Inc.”
In order to further support our community, we make free space available for other worthy organizations such as the College Point Tax Payer’s Civic Association, AA, and we provide exhibit space for local artists.
Our Service to the Community as a Museum
We currently have 5 permanentmuseum exhibits.
The Kindergarten Room Exhibit is the very room that housed the first free kindergarten in the United States, established July 1, 1870. In 2005 Congressman Joseph Crowley introduced a bill in Congress acknowledging this fact.
Our Fire Department Exhibit is also housed in the Kindergarten Room and includes an original 1857 College Point Fire Department man drawn fire hose carriage.
The Jail Cells are a fun Exhibit that everyone loves, both children and adults, and of course everyone loves to have their picture taken in an 1870 jail cell.
Our September 11th Memorial is housed on our main floor in the room that was originally the town Library when the Institute first opened in 1870. We have dedicated one wall to everything that happened that day, and one wall that personalizes the day with a memorial to the losses suffered by our community. College Point lost 10 people that day.
Our Native American Exhibit captures another important piece of our history. In the 1930’s aboriginal tools and burial pits were found along College Point’s waterfront. Some of these artifacts are still on display and stored in our archives today. Included in this exhibit is wigwam and interactive exhibits for children that are always a big hit with the Kids on school tours. This exhibit is housed on our main floor in the room which was originally the town Reading Room when the Institute first opened in 1870.
I believe that you can now see just how important it is that we achieve our financial goal and continue to keep the Poppenhusen Institute’s “Doorway to Opportunity” open to all.
In closing, I thought you might want to know a little more about our founder and benefactor Conrad Poppenhusen.
- Born in Hamburg, Germany April 1st, 1818
- He and his first wife came to America in 1843 and settled in Brooklyn Heights, their house on Henry Street still stands today.
- He started out in the Whalebone industry in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- Later entered into the “Hard Rubber” business, a brand new product just discovered and perfected by Charles Goodyear. “Hard Rubber” replaced the use of Whalebone and was the plastic of its day.
- 1854 moved his family and business to College Point, NY.
- During our Civil War he paid extra bonuses to, and guaranteed the employment of any of his employees who joined Union Army, and if disaster struck and they died in battle, he took care of their widows, and paid for their children’s education.
- 1868 founded the North Side Railroad to connect College Point to New York City. His later extensions to this line would later evolve into the Long Island Railroad. Conrad Poppenhusen was the first President of the Long Island Rail Road.