Living Coast Discovery Center Asks for Community Support to Fill Funding Gap to Help Implement Strategic Plan for Sustainable Future

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The nonprofit zoo and aquarium in Chula Vista announced that significant progress has been made to fill a $200,000 funding gap that threatens its future on San Diego Bay. An additional $20,000 must be raised to take full advantage of the matching gifts pledged.

Living Coast Discovery Center Chula Vista California

The Living Coast Discovery offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with more than 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles

The oasis of the Living Coast Discovery Center has long been a source of tranquil encounters with nature’s wonders. It would be a loss for us all and for our children if it were to close. I hope we don’t let that happen.

The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium in Chula Vista, recently announced that significant progress has been made to fill a $200,000 funding gap that threatens its future on San Diego Bay. As a result of an outpouring of support from the community, over $180,000 has been donated or pledged since an announcement was made on Oct. 1 that the center would close its doors at the end of October due to severe budget shortfalls. An additional $20,000 must be raised by Oct. 28 to take full advantage of the matching gifts pledged. The $200,000 goal is the minimum amount of funds needed for the center to remain open for an additional 12 months. The Center is still seeking additional funds to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Over the last year, the Living Coast has been working with a task force formed by the Unified Port of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista to develop a strategic plan to move the center towards a sustainable future. With this comprehensive plan now approved, the center lacks the funding necessary to execute it. As a result, a staged closing plan was developed to allow for a potential re-opening if significant sustainable funds are raised in time.

Two donors have stepped forward to match, dollar for dollar, each contribution made to the Living Coast Discovery Center, for a total of $100,000 in matching funds. Now donors can have the opportunity to make an even greater impact on the future of the organization.

New pledges include:

  • $75,000 matching gift program pledged by an anonymous private donor
  • $25,000 matching gift program pledged by an anonymous local foundation
  • $10,000 pledged from the Stanley Stearns Fund by Lisa Stearns, a long-time supporter of the center whose mother served as a volunteer and docent for many years
  • $15,000 pledged by an anonymous donor through The San Diego Foundation

These pledges are in addition to a $25,000 donation announced by the center’s largest corporate supporter, San Diego Gas & Electric on Oct. 4.

An additional $30,000 has been raised by the general public, including individual donations from volunteers and members, school carwashes, and kids’ neighborhood bake sales and lemonade stands.

There are several fundraisers planned for the coming days, including three “Dine Out for LCDC” events, with restaurant partners Sea Rocket Bistro and Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro (on Oct. 20) and Eclipse Chocolate (on Oct. 26), where a portion of proceeds will go to the Living Coast Discovery Center.

In addition to these restaurant fundraisers, Sprouts Farmers Market in Chula Vista will donate five percent of all of its sales on Friday, Nov. 1 to the Living Coast Discovery Center. Ron Cohn, the owner of the market, located at 390 Third Avenue in Chula Vista, has been a long-time supporter and board member of the Center.

The Living Coast Discovery Center announced on Oct. 1 that if it was not able to close a $200,000 funding gap, it would be forced to close to the public on Oct. 28, in preparation for a permanent closing of the facility at the end of December.

More information about ways the community can help save this “hidden gem” can be found at http://www.thelivingcoast.org/about-us/sos/ or by calling 619.409.5900.

About the Living Coast Discovery Center
The Chula Vista Nature Center opened on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. The zoo and aquarium was operated by the City of Chula Vista until late-2009, when it transitioned to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In April 2012, it was re-branded as the Living Coast Discovery Center in preparation for the center’s 25th anniversary. Uniquely situated within a national wildlife refuge within minutes of downtown San Diego, the Living Coast Discovery offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with more than 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles, sting rays, leopard sharks, jellies, shorebirds, reptiles and a large collection of raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls, American bald eagle, golden eagle, and more.

The Living Coast Discovery Center welcomes 70,000 visitors each year. Another 15,000 students come from 266 local schools throughout the region to participate in organized school field trips about the importance of watershed ecology, habitat preservation and environmental conservation. Seasonal day camps for kids and teens, as well as programs for scientific career exploration, teen volunteerism and internships, and teacher training and resource development are also key components of the center’s environmental education mission. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at http://www.thelivingcoast.org.

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