The Rabbit Hole
1520 Clay St. Suite B5
North Kansas City MO 64116
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 492-7915
Mission Statement
The heart of The Rabbit hOle mission is to create a living culture around literature that will nourish, empower, and inspire the reading lives of children and adults. To this end, The Rabbit hOle, a 501(c)3 established in the spring of 2015, is developing the world’s first Explor-a-Storium to preserve and advance the art and culture of literature among young people for generations to come. National in scope, The Rabbit hOle’s Explor-a-Storium promises a brand new type of museum experience where stories come to life and visitors become explorers in a multi-sensory narrative landscape filled with radically immersive, discoverable environments.
 
In conjunction with the Explor-a-Storium, The Rabbit hOle will house a printing press and bindery, a library and archive, writing and story labs, a theater, and a working bookstore. Taken together, The Rabbit hOle will deliver a wealth of dynamic programming options and special events drawing visitors to Kansas City from both regional and national markets while providing an invaluable, ever-evolving, one-of-a-kind experience to thousands of families, students, and educators across the Metro.
 
Currently, we occupy a temporary office and workshop in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City where we’re engaged in research and design development, capacity-building efforts, and cultivating broad-based support as we search for a building and a permanent hOme for The Rabbit hOle vision.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Pete Cowdin
Board Chair Mr. Peter Sloan
Board Chair Company Affiliation HOK
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2015
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 heart of The Rabbit hOle mission is to create a living culture around literature that will nourish, empower, and inspire the reading lives of children and adults. To this end, The Rabbit hOle, a 501(c)3 established in the spring of 2015, is developing the world’s first Explor-a-Storium to preserve and advance the art and culture of literature among young people for generations to come. National in scope, The Rabbit hOle’s Explor-a-Storium promises a brand new type of museum experience where stories come to life and visitors become explorers in a multi-sensory narrative landscape filled with radically immersive, discoverable environments.
 
In conjunction with the Explor-a-Storium, The Rabbit hOle will house a printing press and bindery, a library and archive, writing and story labs, a theater, and a working bookstore. Taken together, The Rabbit hOle will deliver a wealth of dynamic programming options and special events drawing visitors to Kansas City from both regional and national markets while providing an invaluable, ever-evolving, one-of-a-kind experience to thousands of families, students, and educators across the Metro.
 
Currently, we occupy a temporary office and workshop in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City where we’re engaged in research and design development, capacity-building efforts, and cultivating broad-based support as we search for a building and a permanent hOme for The Rabbit hOle vision.
Background Statement
The Rabbit hOle is the brainchild of Pete Cowdin and Deborah Pettid, longtime artists and proprietors of the Reading Reptile, one of America’s most beloved children’s bookstores for nearly 28 years. Over the last quarter century, Cowdin and Pettid have developed powerful relationships throughout the publishing industry. These relationships will be integral to bringing The Rabbit hOle to fruition.
There are only a handful of people in the U.S., Cowdin and Pettid among them, who have the skills, background, knowledge, artistic chops, and wealth of industry connections required to execute something as ambitious as The Rabbit hOle’s extraordinary vision as the world’s first Explor-a-Storium.
 
COMPETENCIES
  • Twenty-eight years in the publishing industry.
  • Engagement with Kansas City’s educational community spanning 30 years.
  • Relationships with hundreds of award-winning authors and illustrators nation-wide.
  • Endorsements from the five largest U.S. publishers.
  • Accomplished artists with numerous honors, including grants from the Art-in-the-Loop Foundation, the Charlotte Street Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation. 
RECOGNITION
  • WNBA Pannell Award in 2005 for Excellence in Bookselling and Programming for Children.
  • Johnson County Library Foundation’s Pinnacle Award in 2015 for Excellence in Education and Literacy.
Impact Statement
In 2016, as part of our planning process, we set out to demonstrate some of the programmatic opportunities that are in store for Kansas City when The Rabbit hOle’s vision is fully realized. The result included two carefully executed, mission-based prototypes (described below) that helped us better understand our own operational models while creating an immediate impact on the community at large:
  1. A Traveling Outreach Pop-up based on The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey that has visited more than 20 schools since March 2016.
  2. A full-scale Immersive Storybook Experience based on The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee that hosted 3,400+ visitors and 20 school groups over a six-week period in April and May.
Our accomplishments in 2016:
  • Modeled important aspects of our vision through successful exhibit prototypes that also delivered on our mission.
  • Built strong relationships with the nation’s largest publishers and a growing legion of award-winning authors and illustrators from around the country.
  • Developed important local partnership opportunities with schools and a wide variety of community and civic organizations, including The Kansas City, Johnson County, and Mid-Continent Public Libraries, The Kansas City Art Institute, Turn the Page KC, The Paul Mesner Puppets, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and many others.
  • Executed a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised more the $100,000 from nearly 1,000 donors across the country.
Our goals for 2017:
  • Identify and secure a building that will serve as The Rabbit hOle’s permanent home.
  • Build staff capacity and organizational readiness in anticipation of forthcoming capital campaign and build-out.
  • Initiate capital campaign (summer 2017) with top-down fundraising strategy.
  • Continue limited prototyping of new exhibits, including: a second full-scale Immersive Storybook Experience; a new Traveling Outreach Pop-up.
  • Continue event-based programming that heightens The Rabbit hOle’s national profile while delivering on its mission. Examples include our first annual downtown children’s literature festival - LitFestKC - in partnership with the Kansas City Public Library and featuring seven of the nation’s finest authors and illustrators. (Read more here: https://www.litfestkc.org)
Needs Statement
We conceptualize our growth in four phases:
  1. Planning & Start-Up (March 2015- November 2016)
  2. Transition-to-Capital (December 2016 - July 2017) - Contingent upon building acquisition
  3. Capital Campaign & Build-Out (July 2017 - May 2019)
  4. Operational (June 2019)
Looking ahead to 2017, our most pressing needs include:
  • General Operating support for staff capacity-building in our transition from Start-up to Capital Phase.
  • Capital support for the acquisition and development of our permanent hOme.
  • Targeted support for prototype execution and associated programming in the spring and summer of 2017.
  • Programmatic support and sponsorships related to our programming and outreach efforts.
  • Equipment upgrades, including computers and office equipment, and power tools.
Service Categories
Children's Museums
Remedial Reading & Encouragement
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
Programs
Description
The Rabbit hOle’s Explor-a-Storium concept is in the vanguard of a growing number of cultural institutions dedicated to providing multi-sensory immersive experiences to a new generation of museum-goers eager for physical and social engagement.
Imagine if you could walk into your favorite book? Classic and contemporary works of children’s literature will be brought to life through discoverable narrative environments, curated exhibits featuring original book art, live performances, and an evolving array of permanent installations throughout the space that will surprise and delight visitors young and old.
 
Ensconced in a matrix of innovative artistic and literary programming, The Rabbit hOle’s Explor-a-Storium will deliver on project-based strategies that are not only visionary and mission-strong, but established as proven revenue streams behind the extremely successful business models employed by the City Museum in St. Louis, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Museums
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
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.
  • Serve as an American center for the children’s book, bolstering Kansas City’s reputation as “America’s Creative Crossroads.”
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 (performances, author events, writing labs, bookmaking workshops, etc).
  • Exhibition-specific goals and outcomes.
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
  • “Your concept of a place where both children and adults can immerse themselves in a range of programming that will foster the love of reading strikes us as not just ingenious and a lot of fun, but also much needed. The scale of it is breathtaking and there is nothing like it in the country.” - Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher, Random House Children’s Books
Description
Please Note: The Rabbit hOle, at this stage, is in the planning and development phase. Our “programs” are prototypes: their function is to introduce audiences of all ages to the The Rabbit hOle’s aesthetic, experience, and programmatic possibilities. While they are integral to The Rabbit hOle’s current operations, they do not represent the entirety of the organization’s ultimate offerings.
 
Our Traveling Outreach Pop-Ups are life-size interactive pop-up books that tour schools and libraries around the KC Metro. They bring the story to the students, who can then walk through the narrative and discover the literary environment with all senses. Teachers can use them as tools for imaginative lessons about reading, writing, art, math, and life sciences.
 
Currently Touring (2016):
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Upcoming (2017):
  • My Garden by Kevin Henkes
  • Underground by Shane Evans
Category Education, General/Other Elementary & Secondary Education
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS TRAVELING OUTREACH POP-UP
  • Participation: 12 schools, six libraries; 6,000+ students (K-6), 9,000+ student contact hours
  • School Schedule 2016-17: Began touring February 2016, booked through February 2017
Long-Term Success
Feedback from educators has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating both the need and the desire for new and engaging experiences around literature. The Captain Underpants Traveling Outreach Pop-Up prototype sets a precedent for program sustainability, as this type of programming will be ongoing and regularly scheduled throughout the school year.
Survey responses have indicated:
  • The experience is applicable to a range of curriculum areas like language arts, fine arts, math, and technology;
  • The exhibit has positively affected students’ attitudes toward reading, reading and writing stamina, abilities to generate conversation, development of visual literacy skills, and has brought non-readers closer to literature;
  • There’s room to grow, as it has generated positive constructive feedback in maximizing the program’s instructional usefulness.
Program Success Monitored By Formal exit surveys and requests for written feedback from teachers and librarians.
Examples of Program Success
Teachers and librarians who facilitated the Pop-Up visits responded with overwhelming positivity after their students’ experiences:
  • “Wonderstruck! This describes the K-5 students at my school as they immersed themselves in the Captain Underpants story. This was a unique experience that left them craving more hands-on interactions with stories!” - Heather James, Valley Park Elementary
  • “The Captain Underpants Pop-Up brought literacy to life for our students. Students were excited to walk through the pages of the book, act out scenes, and interpret characters. Parents were just as interested!” – Tysie McDowell-Ray, Crossroads Academy
  • “I think what was most beneficial to the students was that the pop-up really engaged the children in a hands-on way that sparked their attitudes towards reading (…) The pop-up really encouraged discussion among the children that was very beneficial to my students who are mostly English language learners.” – Online Teacher Survey Respondent
Description
Please Note: The Rabbit hOle, at this stage, is in the planning and development phase. Our “programs” are prototypes: their function is to introduce audiences of all ages to the The Rabbit hOle’s aesthetic, experience, and programmatic possibilities. While they are integral to The Rabbit hOle’s current operations, they do not represent the entirety of the organization’s ultimate offerings.
Immersive Storybook Galleries are built narrative environments based on children’s books. They are places of discovery, exploration, and immersion in the imaginative art of children’s storybooks.
Previous Exhibition (Spring 2016)
  • The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee
Upcoming Exhibition (Spring 2017)
  • TBD
Category Education, General/Other Literacy
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
Short-Term Success
FELIX CLOUSSEAU IMMERSIVE STORYBOOK EXPERIENCE
  • Book: The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee
  • Exhibit Duration: April 9, 2016 - May 22, 2016
  • Space: 3,500 sq. ft., 17th & Oak St.
  • Participation: 3,417 students and adults, 20 school groups
Long-Term Success
The long-term success of our Immersive Storybook Experiences depends upon our acquisition of a building that can provide the type of space we need to create a world of literary exploration, an all-encompassing experience dedicated to celebrating the rich cultural fabric of children’s books. We intend to have two rotating exhibition spaces specifically for the Immersive Storybook Experiences in our permanent home.
This new model of immersive experience has proven its sustainability and financial feasibility, as it has been implemented on a larger scale by:
  • The City Museum (St. Louis) - 700,000 Visitors / 300,00 sq. ft. / Gross annual revenue: $7 million
  • Meow Wolf: House of Eternal Return (Santa Fe) - 500,000 visitors / 35,000 sq. ft. / Gross annual revenue: $5 Million
  • ExploratOrium (San Francisco): 1.1 million visitors/ 330,000 sq. ft. /Gross annual revenue: $23 million
Program Success Monitored By In the future, we will use formal exit surveys and requests for written feedback from teachers, parents, and librarians.
Examples of Program Success *
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Pete Cowdin
Term Start Mar 2015
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, local ties, 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
Term Start
Compensation Last Year
Senior Staff
Title Operations Coordinator
Title Graphics & Marketing
Title Grants & Development
Title Artist
Title Artist
Title Artist
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 8
Paid Part-Time Staff 0
Volunteers 0
Paid Contractors 0
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
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Peter Sloan
Company Affiliation HOK
Term Mar 2015 to Mar 2018
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Ms. Kim Ansari Community Volunteer
Ms. Suzie Aron Aron Real Estate
Mr. R. Crosby Kemper III Kansas City Public Library
Ms. Sonja Shaffer Kids to the Rescue
Ms. Marny Sherman KC Symphony
Mr. Peter Sloan HOK
Ms. Anne St. Peter Global Prairie
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 5
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 1
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Under Development
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $400,000
Projected Expenses $200,000
Form 990s
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2015: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
 
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$56,801----
Administration Expense$27,692----
Fundraising Expense$86,652----
Payments to Affiliates$0----
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.31----
Program Expense/Total Expenses33%----
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue22%----
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$249,033----
Current Assets$238,042----
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$1,000----
Total Net Assets$248,033----
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities238.04----
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%----
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Organization Name The Rabbit Hole
Address 1520 Clay St. Suite B5
North Kansas City, MO 64116
Primary Phone (816) 492-7915
Contact Email studio@rabbitholekc.org
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Pete Cowdin
Board Chair Mr. Peter Sloan
Board Chair Company Affiliation HOK
Year of Incorporation 2015