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Living Coast Discovery Center Exceeds $200,000 Fundraising Goal to Avoid Closure
The Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit zoo and aquarium in Chula Vista, announced at a press conference Monday that it has successfully filled the $200,000 funding gap that threatened its closure. As a result of an outpouring of community support, the center has received a total of $401,064 in donations, nearly twice its goal, from private donors, foundations and local businesses over the last several weeks.

On Oct. 1, the Living Coast announced publicly that it was facing a $200,000 funding deficit and that it would be forced to close its doors to the public on Oct. 28 in preparation for a complete, permanent closure in December. With the funds that have now been raised, the center has canceled its phased closing plan, effective immediately. There will be no disruption in access to the center, which will continue to be open to the public seven days a week, 363 days a year.

“The community’s response to our financial situation has been completely overwhelming,” said Living Coast Discovery Center Chief Operating Officer Ben Vallejos. “So many people and organizations have stepped up to say that this is a resource that is vitally important to the San Diego community and is worth supporting. We are grateful to now be in a strong financial position to execute our new strategic plan and achieve long-term sustainability for the center. Our future has never looked more promising.”

Confirmed pledges and received donations to date include: $75,000 from an anonymous board member, $75,000 from an anonymous foundation, $25,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric, $25,000 from UTC Aerospace Systems, $25,000 from an anonymous local foundation, $15,000 from an anonymous foundation at The San Diego Foundation, $10,000 from the Stanley Stearns Foundation at the San Diego Foundation, $10,000 from the Wells Fargo Foundation, $10,000 from an anonymous member, $5,000 from Cox Communications, $5,000 from Sprouts Farmers Market Chula Vista, and$3,000 from Essential Support Service.

Countless other smaller donations came in from individuals, groups and businesses of all sizes that stepped forward to lend support to the center and its mission. Community fundraisers ranging from restaurant kick-back nights to school car washes to neighborhood bake sales and lemonade stands have all had a significant impact on the total funds raised.

What’s next for the Living Coast Discovery Center? 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 the center’s current budget deficit now closed, the comprehensive plan can be executed, allowing major new funding sources to be tapped, to secure the center’s long-term, sustainable future on San Diego Bay.

The plan focuses on three primary initiatives:

• The Living Coast Experience – a unique and intimate destination for families to enjoy nature and native wildlife

• Center for STEAM Education – expanded programs for students to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) through understanding of the natural environment

• Collaborative Research – working with the Port of San Diego, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other scientific organizations that provide better understanding and restoration of adjacent natural areas that share common birds, habitats, fisheries and other research interests.

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

Posted: October 29, 2013

City Of Chula Vista



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