St. Anne's-Belfield School
Head of School

Oct. 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

As a prelude to our parent Annual Fund drive which starts next week, I write today to discuss what independent schools refer to as "the gap."  


This term is used widely among independent schools, colleges, and universities to identify the funding gulf that exists between what a school receives in net annual tuition and the full cost of operating its programs.  


As we have discussed at parent and town hall meetings, the reasons for this gulf at St. Anne's-Belfield, and among great schools nationally, are rooted in our resolute commitment to providing our students with the absolute best educational experience that we can and that we know is possible. We must continue to offer the breadth and quality of programs that we promise and you expect, most notably the finest teachers to be found anywhere, a culture of innovation, and a community ethos that ensures every child is known and nurtured well. Furthermore, we must continue to cultivate exemplary citizenship within a diverse community that ensures access to outstanding children of all economic means.


Fulfilling these essential educational imperatives, however, is a significant investment and neither we, nor like-minded schools as a whole, take in the necessary tuition revenue to cover the full cost of our ambitious programs; hence "the gap."


This school year, it will cost more than $22 million to cover our programmatic expenses, with the majority of that cost going directly to faculty and staff (over 70%, in fact). When we subtract this cost from net tuition received, there is a gap of just over $4,300 per student.


Like thousands of other schools and universities, it is gifts from annual donors, like many of you, that primarily make up for this gap per child. Annual philanthropy provides approximately $3,200 per child in resources each year, with an additional $1,100 per child, to fill the remainder of the gap, coming from auxiliary revenues and endowment earnings. With almost $1.5 million from our Annual Fund and another $1.5 million in annual restricted giving in each of the past three years, we are in the top tier of annual giving for independent schools. This is remarkable. Such generosity has not only supported the core experience, but has made it possible to create new programs like the Computer Science Initiative and add new teaching positions like Singapore Math specialists in the Learning Village, additional reading and learning specialists, and technology upgrades, to name just a few. We are excited to recognize your generosity in the most recent issue of Impact, found online here.


With more than 1,000 donors each year and over 70% of parents participating, our Annual Fund is truly a community effort. It is also true that our Annual Fund and our entire community has benefited enormously from a small handful of donors who are willing and able to make uncharacteristically large annual gifts, and that has been a huge difference-maker for us. However, if we are to make the aforementioned programmatic changes permanent and to make our aspirations a reality, we will need more families to step forward and increase their annual giving.


Our shared goal must be that everyone steps up to fill this gap. One hundred percent of our families must be part of this effort to cover the entire cost of the program. No matter each family's particular capacity to give, I exhort you to stretch as far as possible to make up the gap for each child you have in the School and be the difference for our students and teachers. Your support goes to every part of the School: faculty and staff, athletics, arts, facilities, transportation, financial aid ... truly each aspect of the experience. No matter your area of greatest interest, the Annual Fund supports it.  


The Annual Fund is the bridge toward educational excellence now and a more sustainable funding model in the future. The Board of Trustees is planning and aiming for a day when we are not pushing to fill this gap primarily with annual philanthropy, but through other means, such as endowment earnings. Nevertheless, this is the reality for the students who are here now and who deserve the best educational experience possible. I hope that 100% of our current families, joined by alumni and other friends of the School from whom we will ask the same, will rally to make this year's Annual Fund drive our most successful to date.  


Thank you in advance for making the difference in the life of our students and teachers, and please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions. 



David Lourie

Head of School

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