The School Launches a Historic Campaign to Light the Way Forward

The School Launches a Historic Campaign to Light the Way Forward

Homecoming Weekend at Sidwell Friends School always brings alumni, students, and families together to enjoy an array of athletic events and social gatherings. This year it also marked a historic moment in the School’s history: the public launch of a $152 million fundraising campaign called Together We Shine.

The campaign is the largest ever for Sidwell Friends and thanks to the generosity of its donors, the School announced that it had raised more than $120 million—nearly 80 percent of its goal. The campaign will end on June 30, 2024.

Roughly two-thirds of the money raised during the campaign will fund the renovation of its Upton Street property into a new Upper School, which Sidwell Friends expects to open in the fall of 2026. The School purchased the property, a former nursing home, in 2015 after the company that owned it decided to transition its business to become a provider of in-home hospice care. Opening a new Upper School will enable Sidwell Friends to consolidate all its programs on its Wisconsin Avenue campus later in the decade.

Head of School Bryan Garman, in an email to faculty and staff last October, noted that the campaign has had a significant impact even before the launch. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have benefited greatly from this campaign already,” he wrote. “We have endowed two faculty chairs and are close to funding a third. The directorship in Equity, Justice, and Community has also been endowed, and we have begun programming through the Center for Ethical Leadership. The $20 million we have raised for the endowment is restricted largely to support faculty salaries and financial aid.”

As outlined on a new website the School debuted in October, the campaign will focus on three thematic pillars that will help to define the School’s future: Reimagining the Future of Learning, Welcoming a Wider Community, and Building a More Ethical World.

Reimagining the Future of Learning centers on the many benefits the environmentally responsible, renovated Upper School will bring, including new science labs, an enlarged robotics center, more classrooms, open areas to foster collaborative learning, and outdoor spaces for students and faculty to gather and observe nature. The Upper School also will be the home of the new Center for Teaching and Learning, which will be a focal point for faculty to share best practices and study new pedagogies.

Welcoming a Wider Community will strengthen the School’s endowment to ensure that a Sidwell Friends education is financially accessible to students from across the region without regard for their ability to pay. It also supports the addition of three endowed chairs—in Spanish and Latin American Studies, African and African American Studies, and Asian American Studies—to ensure that teachers with deep expertise in these fields are a permanent part of the faculty.

Building a More Ethical World is guided by Thomas Sidwell’s vision to educate each child to think independently and act ethically. The Center for Ethical Leadership will help students frame and explore ethics in the Quaker tradition, facilitate conversations that connect academic study to social challenges and opportunities, and encourage leadership through new programs. The School’s partnership with Howard University School of Education has already led to the creation of last year’s inaugural LEAD (Leadership in Equity, Action, and Discourse) Conference that brought together educators to discuss issues of race, equity, education, and workforce preparation. The second LEAD Conference will take place this summer.

“This campaign is a historic first step to unifying our campus and transforming the way our students learn and faculty teach,” said David Milner ’86, a co-clerk of the campaign. “We have a unique opportunity to impact future generations of students and faculty. I am eternally grateful that Sidwell Friends shaped my life in countless ways, and we now have a role in ensuring that legacy of learning, friendship, and action continues.”

“As the only Quaker school in our nation’s capital, it’s important that we continue to invest in our campus, programs, and community,” said Charis Menschel Drant P '25, '27, '29, a co-clerk for the campaign. “We are contributing now so future generations will continue to grow and thrive in an ever-changing and challenging world.”

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