Marco Island Academy has announced a $1 million matching gift challenge to help build new school facilities.

The match will be available to all new donations to the campaign until March 31.

Mark Melvin, member of MIA's leadership advisory board, awarded the matching gift for the new campus which will replace the current temporary modular classrooms.

Melvin said he previously pledged $250,000 to the school.

"As I began to understand more about the school and the achievements that they had made with so little to work with, it became apparent to me that I needed to do more," Melvin wrote in an email to the Eagle. 

"I hope that the match will bring to light the wonderful school that we are blessed to have on this island and that it will allow our kids to know that they have a home and a school here that they can call their own."  

Melvin is an engineer and recently became a resident of Marco Island, according to the school's website.

Melvin has been involved with the school for over a year and recently agreed to chair MIA's capital campaign steering committee, said Jane Watt, chairperson of MIA's board of directors.

The school is $4.8 million away from reaching its goal and the $1 million match will double donors' gifts.

"We are in the home stretch of the capital campaign now!" Watt wrote in an email to the Eagle.

In October, a Marco couple donated $1.5 million to MIA, allowing the school to speed up construction plans, the Eagle reported.

Rene and Tish Champagne originally pledged to donate $1.5 million within a five year period but recent cash flow projections made clear the school would have to borrow a significant amount of money.

Mr. Champagne is vice-chair of MIA's board of directors. 

The Champagnes had previously donated over $1 million to MIA, according to Watt.

"Originally the construction was going to be done in three phases," Watt wrote to the Eagle at the time. "Now it will be completed all at once."

"The early payment of the pledge reduces our carrying costs and allows us to do more with the limited funds the school has."

Students will start taking classes in the new building by early 2021, Watt said.

In May 2018, MIA launched a $12.5 million capital campaign to construct permanent buildings on the campus to replace the temporary modular classrooms and administrative offices currently in use. 

MIA is an A-rated, accredited, tuition-free, public charter high school open to all students in Collier County, according to the school's website.

"We are on the final stretch to this goal of graduating to a new campus and I know we will make it," Melvin wrote. "Every dollar counts."

MIA asks people to go to for ways to donate or to contact Hilary Noyes at 239-393-5133 or 

From October: Marco couple donates $1.5M to local school; MIA to speed up construction of new building

Read or Share this story: