Poppenhusen Institute wants more funds to keep running

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The Poppenhusen Institute, an institute dating to the 1800s, is trying to raise $50,000 to cover its operating costs.

In May, James Healy, treasurer of the Conrad Poppenhusen Association, started a campaign on the Fund Anything website, seeking to raise $50,000 to cover a shortfall in the institute’s 2015 operating budget.

The funds would cover such costs as salaries of staff members and instructors, utilities and daily maintenance. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign, which was scheduled to end this Friday, had raised only $750. The institute also received $240 in checks from individuals.

“The board worked together with the staff and the volunteers, everybody doing something in order to raise money. The Fund Anything campaign hasn’t met the goal, but every dollar that came in is most appreciated,” Susan Brustmann, the institute’s executive director, said.

The institute was built in 1868 with funds donated by Conrad Poppenhusen, the benefactor of College Point. In 1870, the first free kindergarten in the United States opened in the institute.

The institute needs roughly $8,000 to $10,000 a month to operate during the warmer months and $10,000 to $12,000 to operate during the winter months due to the cost of heating the building, according to Healy.

At the end of April, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) came through with $100,000 from the recently adopted state budget to help cover Poppenhusen’s operating costs for the coming year.

The funding comes from the more than $1.3 million Avella allocated from this year’s budget for programs and organizations in his district and throughout the borough.

But Healy said the funds are not immediately available and that the institute needs funds promptly.

“I don’t know for sure. They don’t give a firm date,” Healy said. “It could be maybe, if we’re lucky, as early as October or as late as December. It could even go into spring 2016. There’s no way for us to tell.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Updated 11:07 am, July 10, 2015
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