Ashokan Center: Fostering Deep Connections

Conference Proceeding


  • The case chronicles the transition of the Center from a public, nonprofit, entity under the supervision of the State University of New York at New Paltz to a private, nonprofit, social enterprise, dependent on program revenues, grants and donations. The case focuses on husband and wife, social entrepreneurs Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, co-founders of the Ashokan Foundation Inc. and Ashokan Center, Inc. Early in 2017, Ungar and Mason and the Center's Board faced several challenges. Ungar and Mason, were two well-known musicians who had recently taken on the interim management of the Center in response to the sudden departure of its Executive Director. The Center offered educational and community programming in: Natural Science including watershed studies and ecology; living history; culture; music and dance; and team building. Ashokan's 320 acre campus was located in Olivebridge, New York in the Catskill Mountains. Over 5,000 school children, mostly from New York, annually enrolled in the Center's programs. ACI 1916, revenues and net revenues were just over $1.7 million and $26, 220, respectively. The Center envisioned a living and working teaching campus with a focus on sustainability and protection of the physical environment and open space. Although the Board was firmly committed to the Center's vision they were concerned about having adequate funds and community backing to sustain its programs and campus. The current financial situation was concerning since the Center was barely operating at breakeven. ACI's Board estimated that it needed over $4,000,000 in additional funds by 2023 to maintain its building, natural resources and for strategic initiatives. The case ends with Ungar wondering whether the Board's actions were radical enough to sustain the Center's financial health and achieve its mission: "to teach, inspire and bring people together through shared experiences in nature, history and the arts."
  • Publication Date

  • March 8, 2018
  • Presented At Event


  • Social Entrepreneurship, Not-for-Profits, Environmental Education, Branding, Marketing Mix, Sustainability