After 36 years of enlightening, empowering and entertaining teachers and students from across North America, the Keystone Science School has apparently made a few friends. The Colorado-based school raised $2.3 million from alumni and other supporters over the past two months, allowing it to buy itself from its cash-strapped parent organization.

Thus ends the "Campaign for KSS," a fast-paced fundraising effort designed to save the school from being sold or closed. It launched quietly in December, then went public last month after having raised about $1 million. KSS officials said they needed $2.5 million by Feb. 1 to buy the school — and its 23-acre campus in the Rocky Mountains — from the financially struggling Keystone Center. They fell a bit short, according to the Summit Daily News, but raising $2.3 million in such a short amount of time is no small feat.

And despite a little last-minute drama, the campaign ultimately paid off, as KSS announced this week in a press release. The school, which has been a part of the Keystone Center since its founding in 1976, says it will now operate as an independent nonprofit. The separation is expected to be finalized in early spring.

"WE DID IT!" the school wrote on its Facebook page. "We're thrilled to embark on this new journey and are grateful for the overwhelming support we've received to get us to this point. We'll keep you all posted on our progress."

KSS takes a multipronged approach to improving U.S. science education, offering a variety of programs for far-flung teachers and students as well as community members in Summit County and around Colorado. Its programs include camps and "adventure-based expeditions" for kids and teens; customized programs for school groups; educator workshops on issues like urban sustainability and climate change; and community programs ranging from birthday parties to wilderness first-aid classes.

To learn more about the school, check out this blog post I wrote after a visit last July. (Full disclosure: My trip was paid for by Georgia-Pacific, a sponsor of MNN. GP has supported KSS for more than a decade, and helps send several teachers there every year.)

Despite parting ways under less than ideal circumstances, both KSS and the Keystone Center insist the move was in both parties' best interest. "The Science School is very grateful to the Keystone Center's board and staff for their support and partnership in taking this historic step," says Doug Sims, chairman of the KSS board of directors, in a statement. Keystone Center founder Robert Craig echoes that sentiment.

"The Science School has been an extremely important facet of the Keystone Center's focus on science as the governing element in its public policy process," he says. "It is wonderful to see how the school's reputation has been solidified in the community and I'm grateful that it will continue to serve its original mission of instilling a love of science in children."

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Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

Update: Keystone Science School lives on
The Colorado-based school raised $2.3 million over the past two months, allowing it to buy itself and its campus from a cash-strapped parent organization.