We are asking for a slice of your philanthropy pie!

‘Tis the season of fresh fruit pies, and the Ely Folk School is poised for a fresh start.

We are hopeful, we are excited, and we are prepared for a safe and busy summer. 

We have received a pledge for a $10,000 matching donation from an anonymous donor! Please help us secure these funds by donating to the Ely Folk School before July 1. 

Keep reading to learn how we’ve grown this past year, how your support can make a difference, and what makes a donation to the Ely Folk School a valuable investment.  

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Greetings,  My name is Lacey Squier. I’ve been on the Ely Folk School board since 2019, and recently took on the role of board chairperson. I’m reaching out to you to ask for your financial support. My personal investment in the Ely Folk School is rooted in the fact that it is the local institution I turned to when I was new to town. My Ely Folk School experiences connected me to future friends and mentors. The skills I gained became the foundation for how I passed the time during challenging, solitary months. 

There are many changes afoot here. It is my pleasure to share with you that we weathered the hardships of 2020 by offering virtual classes. Those virtual classes are now incorporated in our 2021-2022 strategic plan. Furthermore, Betty Firth will be retiring from her role as Program Coordinator, and Lucy Soderstrom will be stepping into that role as of July 1. Stay tuned for details regarding a gathering in honor of Betty’s tremendous contributions to the Ely Folk School during her tenue. 

My heart swells with pride when I think of responses to a recent organizational review. Respondents affirmed that the Ely Folk School successfully serves its mission to create community by providing learning experiences that celebrate northern Minnesota. Our students appreciate the down to earth, friendly, and knowledgeable instructors. Our instructors are compelled to come back time and again thanks to our helpful staff and enthusiastic students. 

We know there is room for improvement. The organizational review also helped me see that investments in technology and creative marketing, as well as updates to our facilities and increased staff hours would help our programs truly shine. These efforts will require increases to organizational overhead not covered by grants. Although we were able to secure a record $30,000 in grant funding this past year, we are restricted in how those funds can be used. This is why we are asking for a slice of your philanthropy pie. Help us secure this $10,000 match!

We recognize that you give elsewhere; we are honored to be part of a network of generous and socially conscious people. Even so, please consider including the Ely Folk School in your annual giving

Supporters of our mission can also chip in by serving as an Ely Folk School ambassador within their personal network — encourage an acquaintance to register for a class, or write a positive review online. Volunteering is another way to contribute. We have a variety of volunteer responsibilities to choose from (including virtual options); one is sure to suit your interests. 

And, don’t forget! Whether you are based locally or celebrating the Northwoods from afar, you can share an Ely experience with friends and family via the Ely Folk School. Speaking of classes, allow me to invite you to register for my upcoming blueberry hand pie class, taking place both virtually and in person in July. I would be delighted to meet you, and to share in the sheer joy of making things

Thank you, 


How we’ve grown: 

  • We learned how to execute successful virtual classes, expanding our organization to have a national presence with students tuning in from all over the United States. Offering virtual classes helped us to serve a record number of registered students in 2020!
  • We hired Alexia Springer to work on our marketing as well as redesigning our website. Additionally,  Alexia is an Ely Folk School instructor, offering Morning Meditation paddles, Backcountry Baking, and more.
  •  Our ceramics studio is now complete with six electric pottery wheels and two kick wheels, a slab roller, a kiln, and more. Check our website for upcoming ceramics classes. 

Your support will make a difference: 

  • In 2020 we proved what we can achieve when we add to our team. Your financial support will ensure our ability to offer more staff hours. 
  • With additional funding we would further invest in technology to help expand our virtual programming, as well as creative marketing to increase class registrations. 
  • A recent organizational review highlighted the need for a handful of facilities updates. We would like to improve our lighting to better support contra dances and other kinds of events, invest in an updated oven in the kitchen, and make a few structural changes for greater guest comfort.

The Ely Folk School is a valuable investment:  

  • The Ely Folk School has a prominent place atop the hill of downtown Ely. You can help us continue to serve as a welcoming presence to tourists, established residents, and newcomers alike. 
  • An investment in the Ely Folk School is an investment in lifelong learning in a world that’s proven there is an infinite amount to learn. 
  • Donors have shared that they give for a variety of reasons, but a common theme is recognition that a donation to the Ely Folk School brings people together. And some people give because they know others can’t

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