Advancement Office reports record-high fundraising total for 2021-2022 school year


Printed with permission of Eli Goldsmith

DIALING FOR DONATIONS: A group of parent and alumni volunteers pose with President Rick Commons at the Spring Phonathon event at the Middle School in April. At the event, volunteers made phone calls to other parents and alumni encouraging them to make a gift to the school.

Grant Park

The school received a record $49.2 million during the 2021-22 school year in donations, despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual Giving, the school’s organized effort to raise funds on a yearly basis for the purpose of supporting the general operations of the school, alone reached a new record for raising over $9.77 million, with 100% participation from faculty and staff for the 14th consecutive year and nearly 90% participation from parents.

In a letter addressed to donors, Advancement Committee Co-Chairs Melanie Staggs ’85 (Cole ’16, Tyler ’18, Carter ’23) and Shirley Wong (Walter ’13, Chantalle ’17, Matthew ’18) said they are grateful for the school community’s steadfast support.

“The success of our Annual Giving program is a testament to the strength of our community and the belief in Harvard-Westlake’s mission,” Staggs said. “Additionally, our incredible Annual Giving parent volunteers and leadership team personally reach out to the entire parent body, building relationships between our families while sharing the importance of annual giving for the daily operations of the school.”

For the fifth consecutive year, faculty and staff salaries have risen at a higher rate than tuition, helping the school to recruit and retain educators while also maintaining a tuition level below the median of local peer schools.The school’s financial aid budget has also grown to nearly $14 million annually. Additionally, the school was able to provide weekly COVID-19 testing, free of charge, to the entire student, faculty and staff community.

Director of Advancement Eli Goldsmith said among many factors that lead families to give to the school every year, the opportunity to contribute to the River Park project also played a key role during 2021-22 and will continue to be a driving force in the coming years.

“Given the extraordinary impact River Park will make [on] not only Harvard-Westlake students, but also the local community and the environment, many families jumped at the chance to be a part of it,” Goldsmith said. “Given that River Park continues to make positive progress with the City of Los Angeles, there remains even greater enthusiasm to fully fund this transformational project for the school.”

Junga Kim (Emory ’18, Avery ’25) who has been involved in Annual Giving since 2014, said she attributes much of the year’s success to the community’s faith and commitment to helping every student reach their potential.

“Annual Giving is a part of a much larger team of people supporting our children, which includes all the parents who have generously participated in annual giving and effectively led other parents to do so,” Kim said. “ We give to provide our children with the optimal environment for learning. We give to open our children’s minds and transform their experiences. We give to help our children discover new knowledge.”

Despite many challenges due to COVID-19, Kim said the community as a whole working together was the critical driving force behind reaching the new record.

“It is truly about every corner of our village working together, pitching in and helping out during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kim said. “We came together during the most difficult time, and at the center of all of it was Annual Giving, exceeding expectations, adding the extra cushion and providing for the truly unexpected.”