Annual giving breaks independent day record

Kaitlin Musante

Parents, alumni, faculty and staff donated a record $9.3 million to Annual Giving last year, making the school the first independent day school to raise more than $9 million in annual giving, Advancement Committee Chair Melanie Ramberg Staggs ’85 (Cole ’16, Tyler ’18, Carter ’23) said.

100 percent of faculty and staff participated for the 10th year in a row, and 92.8 percent of parents participated.

“We have an extraordinarily generous parent body who believe that what’s happening at the school is worth investing in,” President Rick Commons said. “When you step back, people feel like we are one of the best schools in the country and that their kids are lucky to be here and that they ought to invest whatever they can above and beyond tuition.”

The school used the budgeted funds to increase the salaries of faculty and staff, invest in classroom technology and add security on both campuses, Commons said.

Since the school has access to an extra $700,000 due to the record funds, the school may be able to increase salaries further, add another teacher or plan for a potential jump in healthcare costs, Commons said.
Head of Annual Giving Junga Kim (Emory ’18) attributed much of the year’s success to the community’s belief in the school’s values, even reading the mission statement to parents and faculty to remind them of their love for the school’s message.

“Passing on that mission statement to the student body, to the parents, to the community, to the staff, truly differentiates us from all the other schools,” Kim said. “If you look behind the numbers, we were able to raise as much as we did because we believe in those values. We as a community are truly united by ‘the joyful pursuit of excellence.’”

Kim also stressed to potential donors that annual giving affects the community as a whole and allows the school to continue its legacy.

“It’s important just to continue the tradition of giving, not just for our children but for our children’s friends and the next generation, and to continue this legacy of Harvard-Westlake,” Kim said.

This is the fourth year in a row that the school has exceeded its annual giving record. Last year, the school raised $8.3 million, which also broke the independent day school record.
Both Kim and Commons expressed that they were happy to see parents and faculty coming together to support the school.

“It’s so amazing that we reached the actual dollars and the participation numbers, but I am most proud of the community as a whole,” Kim said. “It was such an enormous feat based on incredible efforts of so many different people from parents to faculty to the office of advancement.”