Philanthropy at Sidwell Friends

2016/17 Opportunities

The best recreation is to do good.
—William Penn, 1644-1718

For Quakers, “doing good” has meant caring for others and addressing inequity through philanthropy since the faith’s founding. Quakers are known to have had a heart for philanthropy that supports children’s education—including the building and financial backing of schools, and an emphasis on providing education for those in financial need—as far back as the 1700s. At Sidwell Friends today, parents, alumni, and community members share of their time, talent, and treasure to help the School in its mission to provide an outstanding educational experience for every student. From making a financial gift to serving in one of dozens of volunteer roles that are aligned to your individual strengths and schedules, there are myriad ways to be a philanthropic partner.

Parents Association (PA)

Sidwell Friends supports a large and dynamic parent community that shepherds numerous key committees, programs, and events for students and the community alike. Volunteers are welcome across all three divisions and at every level of skill and time commitment—potluck dinner hosts and festival face painters are as essential as committee clerks.

All-school and divisional PA committees are organized to enhance the School’s many programs for students and parents: the arts; athletics; Quaker life; equity, justice, and community; room/team parents; parenting and peer groups; community service; new family welcoming; cultural affinity; and more. Grade representatives and room/team parents ensure strong communication between faculty and parents. And ad hoc volunteer groups plan and staff festivals, book fairs, sports team celebrations, and much more.

Find a good fit for your interests either by e-mailing, logging in to the Parent Portal at, or contacting co-clerks Lisa Ward ( or Priscilla Cheng ( Meetings and opportunities are announced in the weekly parent e-newsletters.

Annual Giving

The Annual Fund provides essential funding for the School’s operating budget. Priorities include financial aid and faculty professional development. More than $2.7 million in gifts ranging from $5 to $50,000 was gratefully received from nearly 5,000 individuals in 2014/15. Thirteen percent of gifts were more than $1,000, while 87 percent of the philanthropic revenue received was from gifts of $1,000 or less.

Volunteers are the primary reason that so many individuals choose to make a gift to Sidwell Friends. More than 100 parents, alumni, grandparents, parents of alumni, and other friends give of their time to encourage participation. E-mailing and phone calls make up the majority of the work, which can be done from home at convenient times. Contact Dia Karakantas at 202-537 8440 or

Special Events

Four annual events that comprise the Friend to Friend Program raised more than $521,000 for student financial aid in 2014-2015 and offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Contact Jessie Jacobson at 202-537-8442 or
Next-to-New Sale —Collect, sort, price, and sell gently used items at this giant, perennially popular indoor tag sale that generated more than $90,000 last school year.
Out & About with Faculty and Friends (November–May)—Host one faculty-led discussion in your home for 30–50 members of the community. Discussions take place on weeknights three times a year.
Online, Silent, and Live Auction—Lend your talents to the various committees that solicit prize donations, write catalog descriptions, generate publicity, and help with decor and setup for this key event that typically raises more than $500,000.
Tennis Round Robin —Recruit players and sponsors; help promote the event.

Alumni Involvement

One of Sidwell Friends’ greatest strengths is its active alumni community of nearly 7,000 former students. Nearly 2,000 alumni made gifts to the Annual Fund and increased their support by almost 10 percent in 2014/15. Just as important is their participation in a wide range of local and regional alumni events, including professional industry nights, alumni sports challenges, Homecoming and holiday parties, Reunion, and more. Volunteers help with planning, hosting, and turnout. The Alumni Association Executive Board (AAEB) is comprised of alumni volunteers who advise and promote alumni programs.

Board of Trustees

Sidwell Friends is governed by volunteer trustees, half of whom are members of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Trustees have fiduciary responsibility for the School and determine policies to ensure its spiritual, educational, and financial health. The Board meets monthly and follows a consensus-based, Quaker decision-making process. Members typically serve four-year terms.


At any given time at Sidwell Friends, volunteers are needed for as little as a few hours or as long as the school year, behind the scenes or in a leadership role, and there’s a place for you. Thank you for considering the invaluable gifts of your time, talent, and treasure. You will truly benefit your student and the entire School community.


Annual Fund —Contributions support the School’s operations and the current priorities, faculty professional development and financial aid.
Clerk—The Quaker version of a committee chair. He or she follows the Quaker model for business meetings. (In one example, traditional vote taking is eschewed in favor of the clerk’s reading of the “sense of the meeting,” or collective prevailing opinion.)
Cultural affinity committees—Examples include the Parents of Latino Students and the Parents of Black Students.
Division—The breakdown of grades by “school”: Lower School for grades PK-4, Middle School for grades 5-8, and Upper School for grades 9-12. Lower School is located in Bethesda, Maryland, while Middle and Upper schools are located in Washington, DC.
IA/Institutional Advancement—The department of the School responsible for philanthropy, parent programs, alumni programs, and communications.