This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
There is not a single student on any of Harker’s four campuses who doesn’t benefit directly from the school’s annual giving campaign. These charitable contributions fund Harker’s Margin of Excellence – programs not completely covered by tuition and fees.
“These are items such as athletics and clubs, performing arts, visual arts, technology, library, teacher training and day field trips,” explained Melinda Gonzales, Harker’s managing director of advancement.
Annual campaign funds aid the entire Harker community, including students of all ages, as well as their families and teachers. Even everyday activities such as enjoying a class party or simply checking out a book from the library are made possible by the annual campaign.
“The Margin of Excellence is what makes the Harker experience so exceptional,” said Gonzales.
At the new Harker Preschool, for example, annual campaign funding will enable the purchase of a chicken coop and bunny hutch for the farm, as well as light tables, outdoor play kitchens, library stations, xylophones and color printers.
At the lower, middle and upper schools, annual giving has funded many unique items during the past couple of years, including a tuba, trombone and harp for the upper school orchestra; a 3-D printer for STEM students; child-sized art tables for the lower school; equipment for middle school biology and physical education classes; and professional-grade DSLR cameras and lenses, GoPro video cameras and a drone for upper school journalism students.
“This equipment is transforming our potential and capacities for telling our stories, as well as giving journalism students experience with and training on high-end photojournalism gear,” said Ellen Austin, upper school journalism teacher.
Austin added that her students have started winning individual awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the writing, videos and design work they’ve done using the new equipment bought with funds from the annual campaign.
Meanwhile, Chrissy Chang, P.E. department chair for K-8, said, “Thanks to the monies from annual giving, we have been able to purchase new fitness equipment. Some of the items are kettle bells, body bars and battle ropes. Also, we have been able to restock balls and hockey equipment. This has allowed the P.E. staff to create new fun fitness lessons. We, the P.E. department, are very appreciative of all the funds received from annual giving.”
At the lower school, art teacher Gerry-louise Robinson said that the new tables have been an amazing addition to the her classroom. “Having the tables has not only opened up the art room’s space but also changed the way that the students are able to work.”
As an independent private school, Harker does not receive funds from government, religious or other organizations and must cover all operations and capital improvements through tuition and fees, and charitable and capital contributions.
Having a high percentage of participation is important, as it puts Harker in the best possible position to receive foundation and corporate grants.
“We are grateful to our many families who have already participated in annual giving this year. Their contributions benefit every student and teacher here at Harker!” said Gonzales.