This story originally appeared in the fall 2013 Harker Quarterly.
by Ellen DiBiase
The Harker School has submitted a grant application to the Wayne & Gladys Valley Foundation for a gift of $5 million to be used in the construction of a sports and performing arts complex on the Saratoga campus.
Independent schools do not often qualify for large grants from community or educational foundations, as most educational grants target underprivileged populations. However, the Harker advancement team has identified a few foundations for which the school does meet the baseline criteria and has worked to articulate the school’s especially strong case for support.
The primary appeal highlights the importance of providing quality facilities not only for academics, but for athletics, the arts and student clubs as well, in order to help students achieve their full potentials. The addition of a sports and performing arts complex to the upper school campus is a greatly needed facility that will benefit the daily lives of students in profound ways, whether it is on the court, on the stage or in the classroom.
“Parents play a critical role in the success of any application we make to a charitable foundation,” explained Joe Rosenthal, Harker’s executive director of advancement. “Parent participation in annual giving is the common metric used to determine how broad
a school’s base of support is for its annual operations. Having a high percent of participation in annual giving puts the school in the best possible position to secure additional funding from foundations, because foundations want to add value and not replace stakeholders’ responsibility. Other independent schools in the Bay Area that have received foundation support have participation rates in the mid-to-high 90th percentile. Foundations may eliminate from consideration schools that don’t have a high percentage of participation.”
Rosenthal went on to add that as Harker was wrapping up the 2012-13 school year, “We made a special end-of-the-campaign appeal to increase participation in order to put Harker in as good a position as possible to secure the $5 million grant from the Valley Foundation. It was then that we asked the Harker community to rally and encouraged anyone who had not yet given to the annual giving campaign to please do so. We explained the importance of participation as it relates to the grant application. During the end-of-the-campaign appeal, we embarked on ‘The 5-for-5 Campaign.’ The premise was simple: give $5 (or $50, $500 or even $5,000) to help the school secure the $5 million grant. Parent response to the 5-for-5 campaign was very good, and we were able to boost our parent participation rate by an additional 17 percentage points in the final weeks of the campaign.”
It is anticipated that Harker’s application will be reviewed by the Valley Foundation this fall. The school will also be submitting grant proposals to additional foundations in the spring of 2014. With the Valley Foundation and other grant applications in the works, the school is increasing its effort to get the word out, which is why making a gift or pledge now, in the fall of 2013, is of the utmost importance.