Congrats, Community of Saints!

November 8, 2018

The Healey Education Foundation has named Community of Saints Regional Catholic School (West St. Paul, MN) as one of two runners-up for the 2018 Founder’s Award. (See the press release for a full list of winners.) 

“The board, principal (Bridget Kramer), advancement director (Doug Lieser) and staff have improved upon so many components of their school’s offerings and operations,” said Lisa Anderson, Healey Director of Schools. “The Community of Saints team has exceeded our expectations in bringing their absolute best to every situation during their inaugural year rolling out the Healey approach. This group includes a very talented and hands-on board that has elevated all of its initiatives. We’re so proud of all of them.”

The school’s remarkable results include an 8% increase in enrollment and a 28% increase in giving to the annual fund along with the creation of a legacy giving program. Community of Saints also established a new Board of Specified Jurisdiction that guided the school in navigating some unexpected challenges.

The Founder’s Award for entrepreneurial spirit in action requires that a school be innovative as it masters and implements the Foundation’s Advancement Methodology. Criteria for the award include:

  • Leveraging human resources by empowering staff, laity, volunteers, parents
  • Demonstrated ability to be nimble and adapt to a changing environment
  • Demonstrated growth through calculated risk: growth via analysis, strategy development and execution

Cyber Monday, Walk-in Wednesdays

To achieve its strong enrollment results, Community of Saints undertook a cultural shift to move the school’s re-registration timeline forward. This began with a Cyber Monday sale offering families discounted registration fees and daily prizes throughout the week. By Catholic Schools Week, more than 80% of current students were re-registered.

For new student enrollment, Community of Saints designed more user-friendly enrollment forms and hosted Walk-in Wednesdays open houses. The school increased Latino enrollment by 14% through a strategic approach to engaging families. This included parish outreach, the hiring of a bilingual secretary, presentations to parents at Faith Formation classes plus providing materials and personal tours in Spanish.

Cultivating Community and Donors

The school’s development efforts resulted in a $60K increase in giving over the prior year’s annual fund. Community of Saints:

  • Increased the number of major donors through cultivation efforts including a donor of the day program, success postcard mailing and on-site visit days
  • In aggregate, retained 70% of donors from the prior year and acquired more than 240 new donors – for a total increase of 29% in donors
  • Empowered the volunteer team representing Alumni & Friends & Families to make connections with community members on the school’s behalf
  • Established a Loyalty Circle to recognize individuals who have been regular or substantial supporters of the school and to encourage individuals to consider the school in their estate planning

Navigating the Unexpected

Community of Saints also established a Board of Specified Jurisdiction that achieved impressive results in year one through all committees. Immediate priorities became obvious for a school on a campus without an operating parish:

  • The facilities committee secured a new 20-year lease for the facility – critical to financing a $300K project to replace boilers
  • The finance committee analyzed options and secured financing for the boiler replacement
  • The development committee established the school’s Loyalty Circle and secured initial financial support from donors for the new boilers
  • The enrollment committee revisited, fine-tuned and reaffirmed the school’s mission statement and is revamping the website, relying on the expertise of the board chair

Meeting Students Where They Are

Community of Saints Regional Catholic School participates in a blended learning pilot supported by the University of Notre Dame’s Higher-Powered Learning Program. Through this pilot, the school is taking a fresh, data-driven approach to learning by using software that presents tailored, unique learning experiences adapted to each student’s skill level and pace. Students receive feedback in real-time while algorithms adapt the material to the appropriate skill level and learning style. 

The goal – backed by research – is higher student engagement and performance. This collaboration demonstrates an openness to innovation. It also enables Community of Saints to deliver on a critical promise in its mission to develop each student’s unique talents.