Priorities for SFS
Dear Friends of St. Francis de Sales High School,
For more than 50 years, St. Francis de Sales High School has been educating young men in the spirit of St. Francis de Sales, who challenges us to “be who we are, and be that well.”
I am pleased to report that, across a variety of measures, the School continues to enjoy remarkable success:
- 100% college acceptance;
- 85% of last year’s graduates receiving college scholarships in excess of $13.8 million;
- 20 Advanced Placement course offerings;
- identification by the College Board as having “one of the best student success rates in AP math, science and technology courses” in Ohio; and
- recognition by the Catholic High School Honor Roll as one of the “Top 25 Catholic High Schools” in the U.S.
If you have not visited SFS recently, I invite you to do so. Not only will you see a beautiful campus, but also a vibrant and dynamic community at work, at play, in prayer, and in service to others.
As I look to the future, two things strike me as critical to ensuring not only the long-term financial health of the School, but also its place among the top Catholic college preparatory schools in the country. First, SFS must become a less tuition-driven school. Second, we must establish (and maintain) a deep and broad-based “culture of giving” among alumni. Fortunately, based on the overwhelmingly positive views that you -- our alumni, parents and friends -- tell us you hold of the School and its mission, I am highly optimistic that, in time, both of these strategic imperatives can be achieved.
Last year, the School provided more than $1.5 million in scholarships and financial aid to almost 50% of our students. However, this need continues to increase. Therefore, to ensure that SFS is accessible to all deserving and qualified young men, we must significantly expand our financial aid pool through additions to our Endowment Fund.
Currently, our Endowment Fund stands at $5.4 million. While, at first, this may sound sizable, interest income from the Endowment Fund amounts to less than $600 per student per year and covers less than 4% of the School’s annual operating budget. Therefore, not only in order to expand our financial aid pool (so as to keep the cost of an SFS education within reach for many families), but also to maintain our first-rate academic and religious programs and to strengthen the financial health of the School, we must seek to grow the Endowment Fund through our Capital Giving program.
At the same time, to further ease the School’s reliance on tuition and to combat increasing costs, I am pleased to announce that, as a part of our Annual Giving program, a more robust Annual Fund initiative is being established.
The Annual Fund is the primary means by which SFS bridges the gap each year between tuition and the actual cost of educating our students. Less than 15% of our alumni base made a free-will gift of any kind to the School. By comparison, many top independent schools routinely achieve alumni giving participation rates that approach or exceed 50%. Going forward, for the good of the School, all alumni, parents and friends will be called on throughout the year to support the Annual Fund. Please know that no gift to the Annual Fund is too small – every dollar donated makes a tremendous difference in the lives of students.
For our part, the Office of Development hopes to better connect our alumni, parents and friends to one another, to the School and to our students. Candidly, there is no better way to nurture a culture of giving than by building a strong sense of community. With a limited staff, we will do our best to meet this challenge, as we believe it is beneficial to the School and to our alumni, parents and friends to be reminded of the tremendous value and relevance of an SFS education.
In closing, let me say, “Thank you!” Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for St. Francis de Sales High School. Without the tremendous support of you, our benefactors, we would not be where we are today – where we want to remain for a long time to come – one of the top Catholic high schools in the country. Your support is greatly appreciated…
Sincerely in St. Francis de Sales,
Ronald Olszewski, O.S.F.S. ’62