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News Release

Date: September 19, 2006
Media Contact: Steve Simon, 301-251-7952; Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970

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The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Pledges $3 Million to Montgomery College
Largest Gift in College History to Go Towards Visual Arts Center

PHOTO EDITORS: For high-resolution architectural renderings of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Art Center, click on these links: ArtCenterDay.jpg and ArtCenterNight.jpg.

Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley announced today that the Montgomery College Foundation has received a $3 million gift commitment—the College’s largest single donation ever and the largest donation to a Maryland community college—from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

The Cafritz Foundation gift will help to enhance the College’s transformation of the former Giant Food bakery building in Silver Spring into a new, state-of-the-art visual arts center, which is scheduled to open in 2007. The $33 million project marks one of four new buildings that are part of a major expansion of the College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.

Funds from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation gift will go towards providing state-of-the-art equipment, technology, and furnishings for the visual arts center, as well as for future maintenance of the facility. A portion of the gift will also go towards the redesign of the planned entrance and its construction. In honor of The Cafritz Foundation’s gift, the center will be named The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Art Center.

“We are extremely grateful to The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation for its generous support of Montgomery College and the arts,” said Dr. Charlene Nunley, president of Montgomery College. “Our new visual arts center—which will now carry The Cafritz Foundation name—will be an exciting addition to the growing Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District, benefiting both the students we serve through a wide variety of arts programs and an array of artists from the community.”

When it opens next year, the new facility will be home to Montgomery College arts programs, including the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus’s Department of Visual Arts, the School of Art and Design at Montgomery College (formerly the Maryland College of Art and Design), and the Montgomery College Arts Institute.

The facility will feature a great hall, an art gallery, and an outdoor sculpture studio in view of the nearby footpath and Jesup Blair Park. In addition, the building will house individual studios for community artists, modeled on the working studios in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The artists will rent space to work and also hold open hours for students and the community to visit and ask questions.

“The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Art Center will be a beautiful facility where our students, faculty, staff and the community can come together to study and produce works of art,” said Dr. Brad Stewart, vice president and provost of the College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. “The Cafritz Foundation’s gift will help the arts center become one of the premier places for arts education in this region.”

"Silver Spring is fast emerging as one of our region's premier areas for the arts, and that has been a critical part of the revitalization of the downtown," said State Senator Ida Ruben, who was the catalyst for establishing the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District and who sponsored legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to designate the district. "This generous gift from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, which will help the College make its new visual arts center even more spectacular, continues that momentum."

Montgomery College acquired the former Giant Food bakery building, located on a four-acre parcel off of Georgia Avenue, just south of East-West Highway, in 2001. An agreement with the grocery chain allowed the property to be acquired for $6 million, which was $1.25 million below its market value. Montgomery County authorized the purchase and provided a portion of the funding. The Montgomery College Foundation secured a $33 million bond for the building’s renovation into a visual arts center.

Montgomery College will honor The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation for its donation at the Montgomery College 60th Anniversary Gala, to be held on October 19, 2006, at Indian Springs Country Club.

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation is the largest independent grant-making foundation that serves the Washington metropolitan area exclusively. The foundation is the legacy of Morris Cafritz, one of Washington’s leading commercial and residential real estate builders for more than 40 years. Known for his generosity, Cafritz established the foundation in 1948. His wife, Gwendolyn, was president of the foundation from 1964 to 1988. Their eldest son, Calvin, currently chairman, president and chief executive officer, has said that “in keeping with my father’s wishes, we have continued to broaden the scope of our grants' program to meet the ever-changing needs of our metropolitan area."

Since 1970, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation has awarded more than $243 million in grants. In just the last 10 years, the foundation has given out $128 million to more than 2,800 organizations. Community services and education projects lead the list, followed by the arts and humanities and healthcare.

The Montgomery College Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization governed by alumni, business and community leaders to enhance the work of Montgomery College. Through advocacy, influence, and financial support, these volunteer leaders work to ensure understanding of and commitment to the community college philosophy of opportunity, inclusion, and educational achievement for all. The work of the Montgomery College Foundation has placed Montgomery College among the top 10 community colleges in the nation in fundraising for six consecutive years.

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves more than 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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