The Rabbit Hole
919 E. 14th Avenue
North Kansas City MO 64116
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 492-7915
Mission Statement

The Rabbit hOle is building a major new cultural institution in Kansas City: a visionary center for the children’s book, national in scope, that will preserve, advance, and transmit the art and history of children’s literature to children, parents, and educators for generations to come. It will be the first of its kind in the United States and will position Kansas City as the new epicenter of the children’s book world.

Our mission is to create a living culture around literature that will nourish, empower, and inspire the reading lives of children. To this end, The Rabbit hOle will be home to the world’s first Explor-a-Storium, a new museum experience where children’s books come to life and visitors become explorers in a multi-sensory narrative landscape filled with radically immersive, discoverable environments. The Explor-a-Storium will feature an ever-evolving landscape of permanent and temporary exhibits celebrating both classic and contemporary works of children’s literature.

In keeping with our business models (including the City Museum in St. Louis and Meow Wolf in Santa Fe), The Rabbit hOle will create all of its own exhibits in-house in a fabrication studio employing more than two dozen artists, designers, and fabricators. This will enable us to create a fresh, ever-evolving experience within the Explor-a-Storium and deliver a constant flow of new exhibits that will inspire visitors to return to the museum again and again.

In conjunction with the Explor-a-Storium, The Rabbit hOle will house a printshop and bindery, a full-service bookstore, story and writing labs, a resource library, and a theater space, enabling an abundance of dynamic programming and partnership opportunities that will allow us to reach children and adults of all backgrounds, both inside The Rabbit hOle and beyond.

Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Peter Cowdin
Board Chair Ms. Diane Power
Board Chair Company Affiliation
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2015
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer
ANNUAL OPERATING SUPPORT
 
Individual Support: individuals can donate online at rabbitholekc.org or mail a check to 919 E. 14th Avenue., North Kansas City, MO 64116. (Sign up on our website to be added to the mailing list, where you'll receive event announcements, project updates, and volunteer opportunities.)

Monthly Giving: visit rabbitholekc.org/donate and select monthly giving. 
 
Join hundreds of other Kansas Citians and become a Foundling Member!
At just $100 a year, your Foundling Membership includes: three members-only events throughout the year including a hard-hat tour of our future home! Monthly perks from Rabbit hOle friend businesses! Members-only “VIP” time with visiting authors! (visit rabbitholekc.org/foundling/) 

Foundations & Trusts: we welcome the opportunity to visit with you about your grant making guidelines and procedures.  
 
SUPPORT OUR CAPITAL CAMPAIGN 
 

Make a Pledge: make a pledge over a two-to-five-year giving period.

Make a Gift of Securities: gift a highly appreciated asset, such as stock. We can assist you in transferring assets to the Rabbit hOle through our GKCCF account.

Make a Deferred Gift: consider a planned gift - or other type of deferred giving.

Tax Credit Opportunities: The Rabbit hOle, in partnership with the City of North Kansas City, has secured $2 million in tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board. These are 50% tax credits for contributions, available to qualified donors. 

Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement

The Rabbit hOle is building a major new cultural institution in Kansas City: a visionary center for the children’s book, national in scope, that will preserve, advance, and transmit the art and history of children’s literature to children, parents, and educators for generations to come. It will be the first of its kind in the United States and will position Kansas City as the new epicenter of the children’s book world.

Our mission is to create a living culture around literature that will nourish, empower, and inspire the reading lives of children. To this end, The Rabbit hOle will be home to the world’s first Explor-a-Storium, a new museum experience where children’s books come to life and visitors become explorers in a multi-sensory narrative landscape filled with radically immersive, discoverable environments. The Explor-a-Storium will feature an ever-evolving landscape of permanent and temporary exhibits celebrating both classic and contemporary works of children’s literature.

In keeping with our business models (including the City Museum in St. Louis and Meow Wolf in Santa Fe), The Rabbit hOle will create all of its own exhibits in-house in a fabrication studio employing more than two dozen artists, designers, and fabricators. This will enable us to create a fresh, ever-evolving experience within the Explor-a-Storium and deliver a constant flow of new exhibits that will inspire visitors to return to the museum again and again.

In conjunction with the Explor-a-Storium, The Rabbit hOle will house a printshop and bindery, a full-service bookstore, story and writing labs, a resource library, and a theater space, enabling an abundance of dynamic programming and partnership opportunities that will allow us to reach children and adults of all backgrounds, both inside The Rabbit hOle and beyond.

Background Statement

The Rabbit hOle was founded in 2015 by Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime artists and operators of the Reading Reptile, one of America’s most beloved children’s bookstores for nearly 30 years. Because of their reputation as innovators and their vast network of relationships throughout the publishing industry, The Rabbit hOle enjoys the support of hundreds of award-winning authors and illustrators from around the country giving it unprecedented access to the licensed content and properties that will populate its exhibitions. In addition, Cowdin and Pettid bring with them an extensive and fiercely loyal following within Kansas City’s educational community.

From 2015 to 2017, The Rabbit hOle set up shop at a temporary site in the Crossroads Arts District where we developed our concept, our mission, and our brand, conducted fundraising activities, and designed and executed a series of full-scale exhibit prototypes to test future educational programming. In 2017, we also hosted a metro-wide children’s literature festival in partnership with the Kansas City Public Library that drew over 2,000 visitors to the Central Library in downtown KC. The overall success of these efforts validates both the strength of our mission and the viability of our business model, demonstrating a clear-cut demand among both educators and parents for meaningful enrichment opportunities around literature.

In February 2018, with help from the Sherman Family Foundation and a generous financing package from Country Club Bank, we purchased a $2.2 million, 165,000 square-foot building in North Kansas City’s industrial district that will serve as our permanent home where the full vision of The Rabbit hOle will be realized. All of our efforts are now focused on construction activities, exhibit design and development, staff building, and fundraising efforts in support of our Campaign for The Rabbit hOle, with the intent of celebrating our national grand opening in the coming year.

Impact Statement

In 2018, the Rabbit hOle made monumental strides toward the realization of the world’s first Explor-a-Storium beginning with the purchase of a 165,000 square-foot building in February, just across the river from downtown Kansas City in the industrial district of North Kansas City. Since then, we’ve secured $2 million in Missouri state tax credits (MDFB), raised $6.5 million in capital commitments, doubled our staff, engaged Gould Evans as Architect of Record, completed interior demolition of the first two floors of the building, and completed Design Development and Construction Document phases for the purpose of embarking on major core & shell renovations with our General Contractor, J.E. Dunn Construction. In May 2019, The Rabbit hOle completed construction on our new 6,500 square foot exhibit fabrication shop where we will make all of our own exhibits, moved from a temporary co-working space into the future home of The Rabbit hOle, and accelerated exhibit design efforts. All of our efforts are focused on opening The Rabbit hOle to the public in 2020.

In support of this timeline, our goals for 2019-2020 include

  1. Ongoing implementation of a strategic, multi-tiered fundraising agenda;
  2. The launch of our public capital campaign;
  3. Timely release and execution of planned construction packages for building renovations in coordination with our exhibit production schedule;
  4. Steady phasing of essential creative and administrative staff to meet operating, exhibit fabrication, and program development needs;
  5. Development of innovative arts and education programming for children, parents, and educators.

 

Needs Statement

Project Costs & Critical Funding Areas in 2019-2020:

Our project is in full capital mode right now as we bring this one-of-a-kind museum experience to life for the people of Kansas City and book-lovers everywhere. With 50% ($6.5 million) of our capital funding in hand, we are kicking our capital campaign into high gear in late 2019 with the launch of a public campaign that will extend through July 2020. At the same time, we are busy building our staff, creating a successful internal organization to meet our operating and program development needs. These capacity building efforts are critical to the success of our capital campaign and to the realization of our capital/construction timeline.

Capital Project Expenses (through June 2020) = $13,056,000

     Real Estate - $2,200,000

     Construction/Exhibits - $10,856,000

less $6,570,000 (capital contributions and pledges raised to date)

Total Capital Need in 2019-20 = $6,486,000

Non-capital Expenses (through June 2020) = $1,257,850

     Administrative Staffing - $853,000

     Overhead - $404,850

less $400,000 (operating grants pending)

Total Operating Need in 2019-20 = $857,850
 

 

Service Categories
Children's Museums
Areas of Service
MO - Clay County
National
MO
KS
AR
NE
IA
OK
IL
Geographic Area Served Narrative The Rabbit hOle will live at 919 E. 14th Avenue, in North Kansas City. It will serve the entire Kansas City metropolitan area and surrounding regions. It will attract visitors and tourists from all over the country. We anticipate 75,000 public visitors and 25,000 school visitors within our first year of operations. The Rabbit hOle's education team and resource library will generate online curriculum and virtual exhibit extensions that will extend the Rabbit hOle’s impact to a national audience. 
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

The Rabbit hOle is bringing together book lovers, national authors and illustrators, publishers, educators, literacy advocates, and leading philanthropists to create a new experience around children’s literature, national in scope, that will transform Kansas City’s cultural and educational landscape. As home to the world’s first Explor-a-Storium, The Rabbit hOle will provide unprecedented opportunities for learning, discovery and adventure to children, parents, and educators for generations to come. Working with partners both local and national, our collaborative programming agenda will reach well beyond the walls of the museum to impact the reading lives of children in underserved communities here in Kansas City and across the region.

Because stories comprise the very foundation of our culture, and reading lies at the very core of our success in work and life, it’s strange to think that places like The Rabbit hOle don’t already exist. Places where empathy and imagination reign, where literature is at the center of family life, where educators find new ways to inspire and be inspired through books, where non-readers become readers, where life-long readers become life-long learners, where budding young authors and illustrators come face-to-face with their favorite writers, artists, and characters on a regular basis - places where the culture of reading and the wonder of books are celebrated every day.

We hope you’ll consider joining us in our bid to create a new institution unlike any other in the country, a visionary museum experience around literature that will make Kansas City the epicenter of the children’s book industry and breathe new life into the beautiful and fundamental activity of reading.

Pete & Deb
Co-founders/Directors
Programs
Description In addition to the experience and adventure of the Explor-a-Storium itself and its ever-evolving exhibitions, The Rabbit hOle will offer a vast array of programming options for visitors of all ages. In connection with Rabbit hOle's resource library, performance space, bookstore, print shop and bindery, and the makerspace, our arts and education programs will include: live productions of classic and contemporary children's books; hands-on, experiential creative play opportunities and programs inspired by current exhibitions; story times, book clubs, readers theater, and other family-centered opportunities to read together; professional development opportunities for educators; Title 1 school visits; ongoing author/illustrator events and presentations; story labs and bookmaking workshops; national author and illustrator residencies; and more!
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museum Education
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success As soon as the Explor-a-Storium opens, visitors will:
Have access to literature and the culture of books in new and inspiring ways. Gain a new platform for learning, with new enrichment opportunities for students, teachers, and lifelong learners that supports core standards, scaffolds academic growth, and inspires creativity. Find new opportunities around literature that create new points of contact between children and adults that normalize the practice of reading aloud and together. Find their own voices and the tools to tell their own stories. 
Long-Term Success Our long-term success projections are based on our unique mission and the outputs of business models like ours.

Once operational, The Rabbit hOle Explor-a-Storium will:
Serve as an advocate and sanctuary for literacy concerns both local and national. Spur economic development, boost tourism, and draw visitors from local, regional, and national markets. Be a long-term collaborative partner with area libraries, schools, and a host of arts organizations. The Rabbit hOle will build a robust exhibitions program featuring classic children’s literature, while extending the impact of these curated exhibitions beyond the walls of the Rabbit hOle and into the community with high-quality educational programming, resulting in improved literacy and educational outcomes for visiting students, an increase in family reading time, and community-building through shared experiences.
Program Success Monitored By The success of the Explor-a-Storium will be monitored through our tracking of:
New and return attendance. Time spent (contact hours) within immersive spaces and engagement with exhibitions. Number of books sold and checked out at area libraries and schools related to our exhibitions. School and civic organization visits (will include pre- and post-surveys for usefulness and alignment with standards). Attendance figures for special programming and events. The Rabbit hOle education director will design an evaluation plan to measure short-term and long-term program success, using pre- and post- visit surveys to measure education outcomes. Quantitative results including number of students, schools, and family visitors; number of contact hours; and visitor demographics will complement educator, author, illustrator, and visitor testimonials to help us convey the enormous educational potential of The Rabbit hOle to the broader community and to our donors, partners, and other stakeholders.
Examples of Program Success After discussing this project with our stakeholders in the publishing & writing industry, here’s what some had to say:

“This is an amazing idea...the Reading Reptile has thought into the future. This idea for The Rabbit hOle is so smart, and so forward thinking, and so right, that I’m 3000% behind it.”- Jon Scieszka, first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

“Your vision for what this immersive interactive center for children’s books in Kansas City can become for families all over the Midwest - indeed the entire country - is impressive, and you are to be congratulated for taking on this project.” - Gary L. Gentel, President, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing“

“Count me on board. Count Simon & Schuster on board. The minute we can start planning events with you, we will do so...in a major way.” - Justin Chanda, VP & Publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
 
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Peter Cowdin
Term Start Mar 2015
CEO Total Compensation $0 - $50,000
Experience Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid operated the Reading Reptile bookstore in Kansas City for 28 years. Part museum, part community center, part retailer, the Reading Reptile celebrated the pure joy of reading, delighting visitors young and old. Beautiful book-inspired papier-mâché sculptures filled the space along with a steady stream of ground-breaking programming, prompting the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, to dub the Reading Reptile a “national treasure.” The pair’s community involvement extended well beyond the bookstore’s walls. They hosted numerous book drives and partnered with area organizations to build and deliver portable libraries to schools devastated by the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Today, Cowdin and Pettid are marshaling their business experience, artistic prowess, deep local ties to the educational community, and their vast connections throughout the publishing industry to create The Rabbit hOle, a national center for the book on a scale never imagined before.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Co-CEO/Executive Director Ms. Deborah Pettid
Term Start Mar 2015
Co-CEO Experience See above.
Senior Staff
Title Rights & Permissions Coordinator
Title
Title Architect
Title
Title Office Manager
Title Development Director
Title Accountant
Title Concept Art and Design
Title Exhibit Design and Fabrication Lead
Title
Title Graphics, Web Design, & Marketing
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 8
Paid Part-Time Staff 5
Volunteers 14
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 7
Male 6
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Collaborations
Community and National Partner Opportunities:
The Kansas City and the Johnson County Libraries (events + programming) The Kansas City Art Institute (real-world classroom) The Mesner Puppet and Coterie Theaters (performance and programming) Turn the Page KC (outreach + enrichment) Guys Read (national) The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (programming) North Kansas City School District (story lab pilot) We Need Diverse Books (national) The Children’s Book Council (national) Operation Breakthrough (story & writing lab collaborative) and many others.
Affiliations
AffiliationYear
American Alliance of Museums2018
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Diane Power
Term Mar 2018 to Mar 2021
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Ms. Christine FielderThe McDonnell Foundation
Mr. R. Crosby Kemper IIIKansas City Public Library
Ms. Diane PowerCommunity Activist/Volunteer, Past Director, Ronald McDonald House (1986-2001)
Mr. Jon ScieszkaNational Ambassador for Young People’s Literature; author of The Stinky Cheese Man
Ms. Sonja ShafferKids to the Rescue
Ms. Marny ShermanKC Symphony
Mr. Peter SloanHOK
Mr. Ethan WhitehillFounding Principal and Managing Director, Sandbox Advertising; Founder/CEO of Two West, Inc.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 1
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Capital Campaign
Finance
Executive
Marketing
Building
Advisory Board Members
NameAffiliation
Ms. Lisa Campbell ErnstAuthor and illustrator of The Gingerbread Girl, Goldilocks Returns, and Stella Louella’s Runaway Book
Ms. Kate DiCamilloNational Ambassador for Young People’s Literature; two-time Newbery Medal winner for Flora and Ulysses and The Tale of Desperaux
Mr. Shane EvansCreator of Chocolate Me! with Taye Diggs and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom
Mr. Daniel HandlerAka, Lemony Snicket, creator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions; winner of the Gold Medal
Mr. Leonard Marcus
Dr. Michelle MartinBeverly Cleary Professor for Children and Youth Services, University of Washington
Ms. Linda Sue ParkAuthor of A Long Walk to Water and winner of the Newbery Medal for A Single Shard
Mr. Brian SelznickAuthor of The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins and winner of the Caldecott Medal for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, now a film by Martin Scorcese
CEO Comments “Mary Anne and I committed to the Rabbit hOle because we remember the joy and wonder that filled Madeline and Kiloh when we read books together. The Rabbit hOle will exponentially compound the creative power of the stories and art through experiential learning, confidence building and fun for children and families in ways that other media cannot. In a turbulent world the Rabbit hOle will be a safe and fertile place for children to be inspired by goodness and hope for a better world.”
- Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Steve and Mary Anne McDowell

“The Rabbit hOle will elevate the celebration of outstanding children’s literature with the support of writers, illustrators and publishers from across the nation. It will create an unprecedented experience where readers can be immersed in books in a three-dimensional world that will inspire them to extend their reading skills. It will unleash the creative capacity of children, families and others to create and produce their own stories.”
- Capital Campaign Co-Chair Terry Ward
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $852,713
Projected Expenses $592,075
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2018, 2017, 2016: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
 
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201820172016
Program Expense$132,740$151,208$207,700
Administration Expense$112,819$91,481$75,260
Fundraising Expense$106,079$82,036$119,786
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses18.361.060.90
Program Expense/Total Expenses38%47%52%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201820172016
Total Assets$7,594,580$255,454$236,108
Current Assets$5,092,256$190,858$227,804
Long-Term Liabilities$1,200,000$0$0
Current Liabilities$60,162$25,881$25,678
Total Net Assets$6,334,418$229,573$210,430
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201820172016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities84.647.378.87
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201820172016
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets16%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201820172016
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountSherman Family Foundation $1,100,000R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust $50,000IndieGoGo $35,176
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountSunderland Foundation $1,000,000Individual Donor $35,000R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust $25,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountR.C. Kemper Charitable Trust $500,000Haggerty Family Foundation $30,000Muriel McBrian Kauffman Foundation $25,000
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Purpose The Campaign for the Rabbit hOle is bringing together book lovers, authors, illustrators, publishers, educators, literacy advocates, families, and philanthropists to create the world's first Explor-a-Storium, a brand new experience around children’s literature, national in scope, that will transform Kansas City’s cultural and educational landscape.
Dates Jan 2018 to July 2020
Amount Raised to Date $10,035,745.00 as of Sept 2019
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Other Documents
Organization Name The Rabbit Hole
Address 919 E. 14th Avenue
North Kansas City, MO 64116
Primary Phone (816) 492-7915
Contact Email studio@rabbitholekc.org
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Peter Cowdin
Board Chair Ms. Diane Power
Year of Incorporation 2015