Thrive's new building

Thrive recently purchased the old Red Chair building and plans to remodel the space to better serve its families.

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A Bozeman nonprofit recently finalized its purchase of the Red Chair building and launched a campaign to raise funds for its renovations as it saw an increased need for its family and school-based services during the pandemic.

Thrive, a family- and child-focused nonprofit, finalized the purchase of the building off South Ferguson Avenue on April 30 for $1.6 million. The building was previously home to the Red Chair Cafe and Bar, which closed in 2019 after five years.

“Even prior to the pandemic we were experiencing intensive growth,” said Vanessa Skelton, Thrive’s major gifts officer.

The purchase of the building and renovations will cost about $3 million. Thrive is working to raise $1.5 million, half of which met a two-to-one match from an anonymous donor who pledged to donate $1.5 million at the end of last year.

Skelton said the donation enabled Thrive to consider expanding into a larger space.

“Once we got that offer, that’s when we started looking for property,” she said. “Certainly, with real estate being so expensive in Bozeman, we were a little nervous.”

There were concerns that buying land and constructing a building from the ground up would be too costly, but when they discovered the Red Chair building, “we thought, ‘this is it,’” Skelton said.

The new building will help the nonprofit better serve the large increase in families it’s seen accessing its services during the pandemic, Skelton said.

The organization worked with 176 new families in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw a 481% increase last year in families requesting emergency assistance funds to help pay past-due bills, buy groceries, gas and other essentials.

It also saw a 167% increase in mental health referrals in its school-based parent liaison program in the 2019-2020 school year compared to the previous year.

“We have seen continued growth throughout the pandemic,” she said. “We saw a fair amount due to COVID-19 because so many people are in need of support.

The nonprofit, which has operated in the area for the past 35 years, said it pays over $100,000 per year in rent and associated costs.

Thrive estimates it will cost about $1.5 million to renovate the Red Chair building. Construction is expected to begin this fall with the organization planning to move into the new building in early 2022, Skelton said.

Thrive will participate in this year’s Give Big Gallatin Valley, an annual fundraising effort by One Valley Community Foundation for local nonprofits. The virtual event launches at 6 p.m. on May 6.

Skelton said the organization has a $50,000 dollar-for-dollar match for the Give Big fundraising event. Thrive hopes to meet its renovations funding goal during the fundraiser.

The renovations are designed to allow the nonprofit to grow into the space and continue serving the rapidly growing community, Skelton said.

“We plan to be in this building for the foreseeable future,” she said.

The building will allow the organization to expand classrooms for its parenting classes, create an early childhood learning lab and screening stations to ensure children are developmentally on track and ready for school, more meeting spaces for families and additional storage space for diapers, clothing and baby equipment for families.

The building is also on the bus route and easily accessible to the families it serves.

“Thrive’s new facility will be a reflection of our history, a commitment to our future, and to raising happy, healthy and thriving future generations,” said Thrive Executive Director Carrie Gilbertson in a press release.

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Liz Weber can be reached at or 582-2633.

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