The Governor’s Academy Awarded E.E. Ford Foundation Grant for New Environmental Studies Center in Byfield

The Governor’s Academy Awarded E.E. Ford Foundation Grant for New Environmental Studies Center in Byfield

Educational Leadership Grant to Fund Key Staff for The Bass Institute

The Governor’s Academy, New England’s oldest boarding school, today announced that the Edward E. Ford Foundation has awarded an Educational Leadership Grant, a $250,000 matching grant, to the Academy to support a new, 6,800- square foot environmental studies center set to break ground next year on campus.

To capitalize on its unique location on the banks of the Parker River and Great Marsh and deepen its commitment to experiential learning, Governor’s plans to construct a state-of-the-art research facility called the Alfond Environmental Studies Center, which was designed in partnership with scientists from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. It will include a wet lab fed by water drawn from the river, a workshop, classrooms, and accommodations for a scientist in residence. There, students will engage in original scientific research, learn sophisticated field research skills, and contribute to the local scientific community’s ongoing study of these local ecosystems.

As part of the Alfond Center, Governor’s will establish the Bass Institute to support a range of programmatic initiatives. The E.E. Ford Foundation grant will fund the full-time director and part-time science outreach coordinator positions. These leadership positions will initiate, guide, and support faculty members in developing innovative approaches to teaching that engage students in real-life science experiments. The partnerships with scientists, laboratories, research institutes, and non-profit organizations will allow Governor's faculty to offer an educational experience in the field of science that will be unrivaled at the secondary school level, and will also contribute meaningfully to the advancement of regional scientific research and investigation. Furthermore, the Alfond Center and Bass Institute will serve as a template for other academic areas, generating innovative intellectual experiences across the Governor’s curriculum.

“It’s clear that the E.E. Ford Foundation was impressed by the work that we are already doing to engage our students and will do on an even greater scale for coastal research through the unique opportunities created by the Alfond Center,” said Head of School Dr. Peter H. Quimby. “They share our belief that inviting our students to wrestle with messy data, and challenging them to take part in answering questions that solve real world problems, has tremendous value at the secondary school level, and they are excited to see what we can accomplish through this initiative.”

The Governor’s Academy was awarded a matching grant of $250,000 on a 1:4 matching basis and receipt of the grant is contingent on the match being met by December 31, 2023.

Of the opportunities that the Alfond Center and Bass Institute will create, science teacher and Alfond Center Planning Committee Co-Chair Mike Lefebvre said, “It’s one thing to learn about water quality and it’s another thing to do the actual water quality testing on-site and then discuss what those data mean. That is just a richer experience for our students.”

Governor’s believes that students learn best when they conduct meaningful research and thereby understand how the principles of scientific inquiry can help solve real world problems. The Bass Institute will play a vital role in partnerships with other research institutes, non-profit organizations, and local municipalities to coordinate scientific research and share scientific data in the region.

Of Governor’s proposal, Executive Director of the E.E. Ford Foundation John Gulla said, “All of us at the Foundation are excited by the plans on the part of The Governor's Academy to develop the Alford Center and the Bass Institute. The Parker River and the Great Marsh provide the opportunity for fieldwork and the accompanying laboratory research that will benefit Governor's and many others. This ‘ripple effect’ is a central aim of this Leadership program at E.E. Ford. We eagerly look forward to following this project.”

Established in 1957 with a gift by IBM executive Edward E. Ford, the E. E. Ford Foundation “seeks to improve secondary education by supporting U.S. independent schools and encouraging promising practices.” The foundation makes three types of grants: Traditional Grants to support projects that grow a school’s own missions, Educational Leadership Grants to support schools in creating transformational programs, and larger, multi-­year Collaborative Innovation Grants to support projects that have the potential to influence secondary education more broadly and positively affect our democratic society.

The building of the Alfond Center and the launch of the Bass Institute are strategic priorities of Governor’s current comprehensive fundraising campaign, With True Courage. Gifts of all sizes count towards Governor’s meeting the E. E. Ford Foundation’s 1:4 matching grant of $250,000. For more information or to learn more about becoming a donor to the project, please contact Governor’s Director of Advancement Leslie Dickey at or 978.499.3174.