“Even when this work might start to feel redundant to us, we have to continue to educate others on how to keep the school moving forward. We continually explore creative approaches to enrollment management and mission-based fundraising. We can’t become complacent.”
The Entrepreneurial School
In its first year as one of the Healey Education Foundation alumni schools, Saint Mary School (Vineland, NJ) aimed to achieve continued exceptional results through practicing the Healey Advancement Methodology.
St. Mary School lives its tagline: Minds at Work. Hearts with God. Lives of Service. The school tackled its ongoing challenges with the energy, strategic discipline and tactical follow-through typical of entrepreneurs. Among the achievements:
- To increase public awareness of the school, teachers were engaged to identify newsworthy events throughout the year. At least two media alerts or press releases were issued monthly, resulting in consistent coverage in print and social media. A front page feature in the local paper showcased the school’s 1:1 Digital Initiative and Chromebook Launch for middle school students.
- A technology committee including teachers, parents and administration is executing on a five-year plan. It addresses infrastructure and device upgrades as well as professional development.
- The finance committee and others, including regional parishes, have balanced the budget for four years and collected 99.8% of tuition.
- The school instituted a Student Ambassador Program for open houses and tours. The same students mingled with potential donors at the Lead Gift Event.
- For increased enrollment, St. Mary’s launched an initiative to meet the needs of the growing Latino community. Through a partnership with Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), the school embraced a plan to increase the Latino student population from 18% to 25%, beginning with its regional parishes. Based on situation analyses and data, the school board also took two calculated risks. The first was to add a second fourth-grade classroom. (In prior years, by not accepting wait-listed students, the school lost the opportunity to register their siblings.) The second calculated risk was to change the age requirement from 3 to 2½ for the PK3 program.
St. Mary’s efforts and two transparently-executed calculated risks resulted in 70 new students and a record number of registrations. Some of the nine new middle school students had learned in the news of the school’s technology initiatives. The school increased its Latino enrollment from 19 to 29 students, exceeding its first benchmark. In Annual Fund, $36,000 of the $100,040 total was raised through the Lead Gift Event. Saint Mary School was awarded the Founder’s Grant at the Healey Education Foundation 2015 SAGE Awards.
The Founder’s Grant Recipient Achieves Results Through:
- Leveraging human resources: empowering staff, faculty, laity, volunteers, parents
- A demonstrated ability to be nimble and adapt to a changing environment
- Growth through calculated risk: analysis, strategy, execution
“We need a group of people who are passionate about the mission and vision of the school. It’s very important to remain positive and to realize that everyone is part of advancement – not just the person in the advancement director’s office. We all work together and need to take ownership of the school’s advancement goals.”