The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

growing children naturally

aka The Village School   |   Royalston, MA   |
GuideStar Charity Check

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

EIN: 04-3065810


PRESCHOOL, K-12, AND ADULT EDUCATIONThe Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC) is an educational non profit organization dedicated to meeting the challenge of developing and providing continuous well rounded education, from early childhood to late adulthood in north central Massachusetts. MREC's main operation is the Village School, an independent elementary school in Royalston, Massachusetts serving children in preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-6, with the aim of offering a unique curriculum based on challenging hands-on academics, direct contact with the natural world, and kindness. MREC and the Village School are located on the Camp Caravan campus in Royalston. The Village School moved into its new building on the campus in August 2018.

Ruling year info



Ms. Rise Richardson

Main address

253 S. Royalston Rd.

Royalston, MA 01368 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Elementary education

Adult education

Environmental education

Population served info

Children and youth

Infants and toddlers




NTEE code info

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Programs and results

Reports and documents

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our organization is working to address the needs of children in rural areas, by reducing class sizes, connecting children to nature and making learning a hands-on experience.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Village School

A full independent elementary school for children in Preschool to 6th grade, serving north central Massachusetts. The program includes hands-on, project based learning, challenging academics, with lots of contact with nature and the outdoors. As an independent school, parents pay tuition, and there is a financial aid program, so the school is affordable to all families.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Village School Summer Program offers programs by the week, for day students, for children from the local area. There is a Nature Arts and Play program for Early Childhood, there is an Art and Science program for ages 7 and older, and Woodworking for Children, for ages 8 and older. All are hands-on programs, all outdoors (weather permitting), with professional artists, scientists and woodworkers!

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers

The Village School Music Program serves both enrolled Village School students, and students from the surrounding areas. There is an 'in-house' program that teaches recorder and music to all students, including private lessons. There is also an after school program that provides individual and group lessons to any local children, in a variety of instruments.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC) offers Summer Seminar Programs for adults at Camp Caravan in Royalston. These programs are varied, some in meditation, some in dance movement, some in gardening, and some in education. Adults can stay at Camp Caravan for a week, and are provided with food and housing, along with the program experience. For many, it is a retreat, and a chance to recharge in nature, away from cell phones and busy city life. Programs focus on peace and quiet and inner space.

Population(s) Served

The Village School offers over $110,000 in financial aid for families who qualify. This enables ALL children from the local area to attend the school, regardless of financial ability. More funds allow more children to attend.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our organization aims to provide a choice in elementary and adult education in the Central Mass. area. We aim to serve those children who are not served, or ignored by the public school system. We plant seeds and help the children grow, hopefully becoming independent young adults with compassion, persistence, a strong sense of self and a sense of responsibility to others and society. We connect children to nature and to a responsibility for community.

Our strategies include providing an intensive education based on doing. We have developed a curriculum that creates independent self motivated learners who are kind. We have reached one long term goal: our own campus and our own building, sited on 55 acres of woods, fields, ponds and streams.
We also plan to do week long seminars for 17-24 year olds, to immerse themselves in hands on learning, such as cooking, farming, spinning, dance, meditation and more.

We have a terrific group who has been working at and developing curriculum for over 40 years, many of whom were trained by J. G. Bennett in England in the 1970's. This group meets weekly at the Camp Caravan property, to develop new forms of teaching , both for elementary school, and for young adults. The Village School also attracts terrific teachers and teacher coaches, who are using the latest proven practices in the field of education.

We are doing a strong job of serving elementary children. From starting with 5 children in preschool in 1989, we are now serving over 65 children in preschool-6th grade, larger than many of the local small town elementary schools. Our students come from over 20 towns in the surrounding area! We are in the early stages of figuring out how to reach young adults (16-22), so they can find meaning in useful work and avoid the potential path of drugs and alcohol.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)
Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.28 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 5.3 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 10% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $15,010 $68,786 $648,129 $342,093 $245,110
As % of expenses 2.3% 10.8% 87.3% 45.1% 27.6%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$49,673 -$10,699 $568,373 $254,198 $147,898
As % of expenses -6.8% -1.5% 69.1% 30.0% 15.0%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $681,701 $781,917 $1,313,289 $1,159,453 $1,099,505
Total revenue, % change over prior year -7.2% 14.7% 68.0% -11.7% -5.2%
Program services revenue 84.9% 79.2% 48.9% 64.9% 83.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.7% 1.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 14.4% 19.9% 44.9% 27.0% 15.5%
Other revenue 0.7% 0.9% 6.3% 7.4% 0.5%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $666,691 $635,836 $742,456 $758,844 $887,678
Total expenses, % change over prior year 24.6% -4.6% 16.8% 2.2% 17.0%
Personnel 54.3% 61.8% 59.8% 59.6% 57.5%
Professional fees 3.9% 3.0% 2.3% 3.2% 6.8%
Occupancy 3.1% 2.2% 2.2% 2.5% 2.8%
Interest 6.8% 7.4% 6.2% 5.9% 4.9%
Pass-through 19.4% 17.8% 17.8% 17.0% 15.2%
All other expenses 12.5% 7.8% 11.7% 11.8% 12.8%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Total expenses (after depreciation) $731,374 $715,321 $822,212 $846,739 $984,890
One month of savings $55,558 $52,986 $61,871 $63,237 $73,973
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $18,233 $142,475 $24,759
Fixed asset additions $377,563 $0 $113,040 $92,420 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $1,164,495 $768,307 $1,015,356 $1,144,871 $1,083,622

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Months of cash 2.1 4.5 11.6 7.1 5.2
Months of cash and investments 2.1 4.5 11.6 11.8 12.9
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets -1.3 -0.4 8.0 10.1 11.0
Balance sheet composition info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Cash $114,359 $236,800 $715,128 $451,573 $385,896
Investments $962 $962 $962 $292,894 $566,095
Receivables $58,567 $61,812 $44,356 $55,049 $40,961
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $2,999,371 $3,069,121 $3,181,845 $3,269,627 $3,317,419
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 6.5% 8.9% 11.1% 13.4% 16.1%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 41.7% 41.7% 36.1% 30.0% 28.7%
Unrestricted net assets $1,747,751 $1,737,052 $2,305,425 $2,559,623 $2,707,521
Temporarily restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $0 $77,295 $0 $0 $0
Total net assets $1,747,751 $1,814,347 $2,305,425 $2,559,623 $2,707,521

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization


Ms. Rise Richardson

Rise Richardson is one of the original founders of the Village School, in 1989. She was on the initial school board for a number of years, and volunteered at the school in the early years of its development. The Board appointed her to represent the school in all legal and public matters, and work with teachers and parents. Over time, Rise became an experienced executive director who is guiding the school into its next phase. She has been head of the school for over 20 years. She and her husband also have a small farm, to which all of the classes take field trips.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

The Village School (Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc.)

Board of directors
as of 12/04/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Mr. John Richardson


Term: 2022 - 2023

Board co-chair

Mr. Walter Thornton

Vice President

Term: 2022 - 2023

John Richardson


Walter Thornton

Vice President

Penelope Sullivan


Nanji Davison


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/27/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/27/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.