This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 Harker Quarterly.
At the annual Head of School’s Circle Celebration on May 2, Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement, announced that Jeff and Marieke Rothschild (Isaac, grade 12; Jackiel, grade 10) had generously made a $10 million matching gift challenge. The annual celebration honors Harker’s leadership donors, who are recognized, thanked and shown the impact of their donations.
The Rothschilds will match, dollar-for-dollar, all gifts to the capital campaign up to $10 million that meet the following criteria: 1) pledges must be made between April 21 and Oct. 12, 2014, and 2) pledge payments must be made in the years 2014, 2015 and/or 2016.
The challenge is meant to inspire all members of the Harker community to join in and make a gift to help build a much-needed theater and gymnasium. The matching gift challenge, if achieved, will allow the school to begin construction on the new events center a full year earlier than previously thought possible without a gift of this magnitude.
“Marieke and I looked at the Harker community, what the school has meant to our children; we know that this events center is not going to be here for their benefit, directly, but everything on this campus is here for a reason. It is here because the Harker community envisioned it and pulled together and made it happen, and this project will be no different,” Rothschild said at the event, surrounded on stage by performing arts and athletics students.
The Rothschilds had previously made a $1 million gift to the school to help with the purchase of the preschool campus. They decided to contribute again with a transformational gift, leading the fundraising effort for the events center because they recognize the impact the building will have on the entire Harker community. Structuring their matching gift challenge as they did – by matching the pledges and gifts made within the given time frame – will enable Harker to provide this much-needed facility to benefit the students and families one year sooner.
If the match is met and construction goes as planned, the Harker community will cut the ribbon on the events center in fall 2016. Current Harker families, as well as alumni and parents of alumni, will be able to enjoy games and productions in much more suitable facilities, improving the experience significantly. The enhanced school spirit and pride invoked by the activities that will take place in this new building is one of the most anticipated benefits.
Preparing students for college and beyond by providing academic and programmatic excellence is at the heart of the Harker mission and will continue to be the central focus of the school’s whole-mission approach. Head of School Chris Nikoloff said that the events center will have a positive impact on Harker’s century-old mission both directly, from the numerous activities and events that will take place there, and also through the ability to allow other departments to expand into spaces currently used by athletics and performing arts that will be vacated when those activities move into the new facility.
Donors who rise to the challenge and make a capital gift during the match period will be recognized as a member of the Partners’ Circle, with their name added to an inaugural plaque in the atrium of the events center. Securing the $10 million in matching gift pledges from the Harker community over the next few months is a tall order, but, as the Rothschilds said at the Head of School’s Circle Celebration, “Together we can all make this happen. The sooner, the better.”
Many parents and faculty members already have started planning their pledges and making gifts to be matched. Harker parents Alex Franz and Keiko Horiguchi (Kai, grade 7; Maya, grade 5; Nina, grade 3) stated, “We can see the strategic importance of the theater and gymnasium project for all of Harker, so we wanted to join the campaign to support this construction. Harker provides an exceptional setting where kids can unfold their potential and reach for the stars. The amazingly generous matching grant, which lets us double our contribution, led us to donate before the beginning of the next school year, and we wanted to support the best-case construction schedule so we just decided to make the donation right away.”
Those interested in learning more about the proposed events center can visit www.harker.org/eventscenter to review the “Case for Supporting the Events Center” booklet. A video featuring a virtual tour and several members of the Harker community – students, parents and teachers alike – sharing the impact they envision the new building will have on the Harker community is also available on the website, alongside Harker’s Vision Statement, which illustrates how the construction of the events center is aligned with Harker’s overall strategic plan through 2020.
Interest in making a capital pledge can be expressed by clicking the “Pledge Now” button on the events center website or by contacting Rosenthal directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408.345.9266.